Planning Ahead for a Walk-in Tub



By Kerry Knight

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I’m retiring.  Every time I say that it still sounds strange to me.  “I can’t retire,” I think to myself.  “I’m too young.  I feel great.”  It’s as if I’m speaking of someone else.  Yet, then I realize I am at retirement age, 65-years-old. 
 
Where have all the years gone?  I think back to certain events in my life that were 20 or 30 years ago and it seems like they were just a few years ago.  It can’t be that far back.  But it is.  So, I realize I have to accept it and move on.  

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And I now have a Medicare card.  I feel guilty, as if I have something that should belong to an older person.  But I qualify.  When I go to the movies, I qualify for the senior discount.  At first I refused it, then I thought, “Why not enjoy the benefits of retirement?”  In one short year, I’ll qualify for Social Security. 

My wife and I are building a new home.  I don’t plan to ever move again once it’s built, so we’re being careful to include everything that we could possibly want, as long as it’s affordable.  In the master bath, the original plans called for a huge Garden Tub and a separate shower unit.  The tub is beautiful, but here’s the caveat: it’s not right for us at this point in our lives.  It’s designed for someone much younger, someone who doesn’t have to ever worry about falling or stepping over a tall ledge into a deep basin. 

My wife was quick to notice how impractical that tub will be.  “I want to replace it with a Walk-in Tub,” she said.  At first, I was surprised.  Most women would go to their grave before admitting they need a tub designed primarily for seniors with mobility issues.  However, she’s the smart one in our family.  In requesting a Walk-in Tub, she was being pragmatic and realistic.  “The day will come when we’ll need it,” she stated matter-of-factly.  

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She’s right.  I can already feel a tinge of arthritis in my hips and back.  It probably won’t get any better.  The day will also come when getting light-headed will be more common when I get up out of bed or stand up from sitting in a chair, so even maintaining balance everyday will be a real challenge.  We both know that day is coming, it’s just a matter of time.

Statistics don’t lie: most fractures among older adults are caused by falls, and the most dangerous and frequent place senior fall is in the bathroom.  Most common are fractures of the hip, forearm, leg, ankle, pelvis, upper arm, and hand.  Furthermore, the risk of slamming one’s head on a hard surface in the bathroom (and there are several of them) is frightening real.  Twenty to 30% of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries.  Once experiencing a fracture, it makes it much harder for seniors to get around or live independently, thus increasing the risk of early death.  Many people who fall, even if they aren’t injured, subsequently develop a fear of falling.  This fear may cause them to limit their physical activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness, thus again increasing the actual risk of falling.  In 2010, over 21,700 older adults died from unintentional fall injuries.

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My wife and I both eat right and we visit the gym almost daily.  We both know the value of preventative care.  We strive to live a healthy lifestyle, but eventually we will need some type of assistance.  In this regard, a Walk-in Tub can be of tremendous assistance.

My mother is 83 years old.  She now requires around-the-clock care.  She can’t even bathe herself.  In nearly 20 years, when I reach her age, I hope I can still take care of myself.  

The Walk-in Tub could definitely provide a significant advantage in this regard.  The Walk-in Tub is a self-contained unit.  It stands about 40 inches off the floor and will hold about 50 gallons of water.  You enter it by a hinged door on the side of the tub and step in.  The threshold for entering and exiting is only six inches, so raising the legs and causing instability doesn’t happen due to its inherent design.  Once the door is closed and locked, because of its water-tight seal, it doesn’t leak.  Then you sit down in the slip-resistant, molded seat designed into the tub and soak in warm water.  You can easily reach across the tub to the controls and turn on the hot or cold water, empty the drain, and utilize the hand-held shower sprayer with its four-foot, metal-braided hose.  You can also control the water and/or air jets.  There is a convenient grab bar on the inside for assisting with getting up and down.  In other words, even if you were feeble, you could take a bath without the help of anyone.  I like that.  We do have our pride, you know.  Independent bathing is vitally important to seniors.  In requesting that the contractor switch out the Garden Tub to a state-of-the-art Walk-in Tub, my wife had looked forward 20 years and saw the eventual need.

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But that’s not all.  Just like many elderly seniors, my wife and I will probably develop a few aches and pains as we get older.  Age often brings on things like psoriasis, arthritis, eczema, neuropathy, muscular aches, and joint discomfort, just to mention a few.  The Walk-in Tub comes with air jet hydrotherapy where its jet ports fill the tub with thousands of therapeutic bubbles that stimulate the skin and relax the body.  Just the act of sitting in warm water creates buoyancy and takes pressure off the joints, muscles and ligaments.  The Walk-in Tub can also come with a water-jetted massage system with inline heater.  This means you can target certain parts of the body for specific “aquatic massage” treatment.  The jets are adjustable as to force and direction.  It’s like having your own massage therapist around the clock.   

When I was younger, and long before I was part owner in a specialty bathtub company, I dreamed of having my own portable spa in my home, where I could walk in and get the same treatment that I would get from a professional health spa.  Now I can have it, and not a minute too soon.

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It really doesn’t matter if you’re retired or facing retirement, it makes sense to plan ahead.  The Walk-in Tub can be enjoyed at any age.  Many who have medical problems are enjoying it long before retirement.  And some who are presently in very good health, who simply enjoy the pleasure of having their own year-round, private Jacuzzi, have them as well. That’s great, too.  

Getting to our senior years and existing comfortably during those years when we really might need help will provide new challenges for my wife and me.  Sure, having that beautiful Garden Tub in our new master bath might be tempting, but it’s not our best choice in the long term.  The Walk-in Tub might cost a little more, but overall, it will be one of the best investments of our lives.  We don’t want to spend our retirement years fighting pain and ailments when we can install something now that can help us later.  After all, that’s what planning ahead for our golden years is all about.  

In this article, I shared some of my thoughts and issues upon facing imminent retirement. I then went on to discuss how swapping out our new home’s Garden Tub with a safety-featured Walk-in Tub makes much more sense for my wife and I.  Then I shared some of key benefits Walk-in Tubs can provide, such easy access and egress, water-tight door, safety bar, ergonomic controls, water and jet-therapy and more. 



Customer Testimonial for a Walk-in Tub from Tub King

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Kerry Knight is a former co-owner of Tub King, Inc., and SeniorBathtub.com  in Jacksonville, Florida (now retired). He and his brother, Alan, have many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. Their companies not only provide superior products, they are also award winners, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” four years running. If you’d like to contact them, call (800) 843-4231 or send an email to Alan@tubking.com.


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