Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Last week we talked a bit about how to keep your home from becoming your enemy, especially as illness, injury or the aging process compel us to make changes in our daily lives. “Be unlimited” is our motto, even when there are very real challenges to face.

This week, let’s consider the bathroom in more detail. On a good day, it’s often the most dangerous room in the house. Many newer homes are equipped with grab bars, safety valves to prevent scalding and walk-in showers. However, even some of those features are not enough. And, how many of us have moved into a brand new home lately? (The national statistics say the numbers have leveled off for the moment.) The bathtub, place of great pleasure with long soaks, can become (literally) a slippery slope of destruction with just a tiny misstep. You want to be sure always to have mounted grab bars on the walls around your tub. Please do not hang onto the towel rack. Even the best of towel racks is not meant to offer support over and over again. And be sure those grab bars are mounted into studs, or with molly bolts. We like to add a tub bar that clamps onto the side of the tub to provide another sturdy handle for steadying as you take that first step into or out of the tub.

Some folks have taken to using their tub only for showers, putting a bath bench or shower chair with feet that grip inside the tub. There are numerous styles and colors to choose from, including the type called a “transfer bench” that straddles the tub, allowing you to scoot from outside the tub to the inside while sitting.

One of the more dramatic, and the safest, change you can make is to take out that tub altogether. Many are converting to a walk-in shower big enough to allow a wheelchair to roll in, if necessary one day. But, oh, the tub, you say. I love soaking! Well, there are a variety of walk-in tubs on the market today. We have looked at them all. We like the idea very much, and there’s one in particular that has a number of features we especially admire. Like a door that opens out instead of in, as does one of the more popular brands. Not only does this feature allow for a more spacious entry into the tub, there is the psychology of knowing you could open that door if you absolutely had to, although it’s not advised. Be prepared for quite the flood if you do! And a very low lip that makes navigating the climb in quite manageable for most circumstances. This one comes with jets, too, for your own personal whirlpool. It holds nearly the same amount of water as a regular tub and has a seat cushion to make you comfy. With the included handheld shower attachment, you can easily wash your hair. Some also mount the tub in a spare bathroom or near the laundry room where access to water sources make the installation quite easy.

We often hear people say, though, that they’ll wait until they need it. Remember Sally’s caution from last week’s blog. Sometimes it’s too difficult to do once you lose the chance to make these changes before you absolutely need them. We also hear about the “mess” of converting a bathroom. While it does take some doing to pull out an existing tub, once it’s done, the installation of the Safety Bath is a straight-forward process in most cases. We have a video you can watch that gives the details so you can get comfortable with what it takes.

The other objection we hear is often about cost. We can’t argue that to transform your bathroom takes some money. We offer this reflection, though. When you compare the costs of modifying your home to make it safe and comfortable for your circumstances with moving to either a new home or to a living situation within an assisted community, you will almost always find greater economic value in staying at home. While this is a very personal decision with lots of dependencies, some folks forget to include it among the options. Watch our blogs for more on making the economics of staying at home work. We will feature specialists of all sorts in the future who weigh in on interesting alternatives.

We have a variety of models available in the Store.

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