There’s nothing more relaxing than a lovely warm bath. It is unquestionably one of life’s simple pleasures. But imagine feeling so worried about being able to safely climb in and out of the bath, or scared about the risk of slipping and falling, that suddenly this simple pleasure is taken away from you. Walk-in baths allow people with low mobility, whether that be the elderly, people with disabilities, or people who are suffering from recurring injuries, to continue taking baths safely and confidently.
I was recently commissioned by Bathing Solutions to take a look at the different health benefits associated with using a walk-in bath for people with low mobility and I came up with five very good reasons.
1. Pain Management
A warm bath is a great way to temporarily relieve pain, as the heat from the water aids blood circulation which in turn allows muscles to relax and for any joint pain to be eased. A walk-in bath goes one step further in that bathers can make use of added features that aid pain relief even more so. For example, many walk in baths have a fitted seat, allowing the user to sit at a 90 degree angle rather than lying down or sitting with their legs out in front of them. Anyone suffering from arthritic pain, lower body injuries, or joint pain etc., can sit comfortably whilst still being able to soak in the bath. And it is the soaking that offers such a good form of restorative pain relief.
Some walk-in baths also come equipped with water jets, which offer up even more health benefits. The force of the water coming through the jets will massage targeted areas of the body and this will help ease aches, pains, swelling, muscle fatigue, and any tension you may be holding in your body. The streams of warm water will also help to release any tightness in the muscles and it is when our muscles relax that we start to produce endorphins, our happy hormones and natural painkillers.
Another factor to consider is that when we are in water we are buoyant, which means we feel weightless. So for people with mobility concerns this weightlessness can come as a huge relief, as the body is no longer having to exert force to hold itself upright. The water takes over as the supportive force and this results in a temporary form of pain relief.
2. Improved Wellbeing
Mental health can often be overlooked in people with mobility issues; the physical problems are visible and are therefore given precedent, however as we all know, mental health is just as important. Just because your mobility is compromised doesn’t mean that you are incapable of doing things for yourself. Although it can certainly feel that way if you haven’t made the right adjustments to your home to enable you to live the independent life you want to live.
One such adjustment is changing from a regular bath to a walk-in one. Knowing that you can safely get in and out of the bath yourself, that you can sit in the bath and be able to get yourself up again, that you have something to grab hold onto if you need it, and that you won’t slip will make you feel much more confident about having a bath. And this increased independence and confidence all contributes towards a positive mindset.
The act of having a bath is in itself a relaxing experience, which naturally helps with our overall sense of wellbeing. Being immersed in warm water allows us to escape our problems for a while, it allows our minds to switch off, our bodies to rest, and gives us permission to slow down and to just be in that moment. When we enter this almost meditative state, the negative influences of stress, anxiety, and worries are all quite literally washed away.
3. Accident Prevention
Bathrooms are one of the most likely places to have an accident in the home and it’s no wonder really. Water, soap, slippery surfaces, hard floors, marble tops… it is quite literally an accident waiting to happen. For people with low mobility, the risk of an accident is even greater, which is why installing a walk-in bath is such a great option. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, and so one of the best health benefits a walk-in bath can give is to help lower the risk of falls and other bath time accidents.
One of the hardest movements for people with decreased mobility to do is the physical action of getting in and out of the bath. Walk-in baths however have a door installed in the side panels of the bath that allows easy access. Whereas a standard bathtub would require you to life your leg up and over a panel of at least half a metre in height, a walk-in bath will only be a couple of inches, thus significantly reducing the strain on joints and lowering the risk of tripping or falling.
In addition, most walk-in baths are also kitted out with various other safety features such as:
- Textured floor – for better, non-slip grip.
- Comfortable seating – if you are unable to support yourself unaided.
- Controls – this will vary depending on the style of bath you go for, but some may have adjustable seating or even water jets. Just imagine, your very own home spa!
- Grab rails – giving you something to hold onto when manoeuvring the bath.
- Door seal – to stop the water spilling out!
- Chair lifts – some models of walk-in baths will offer this as an additional means of assistance.
4. General Hygiene
The installation of a walk-in bath means no one has to miss out on the most relaxing method of self cleaning. Aside from how relaxing a bath can be, the main purpose of having a bath is to clean yourself. If someone has decreased mobility, it is highly unlikely they will be able to use the shower and whilst they could just give themselves an all over wash with a flannel at the sink, it really isn’t the same level of cleanliness that a bath can offer.
Bathing can become more difficult when mobility is restricted, but personal hygiene is an essential component in staying healthy and fighting off infection. Wounds, irritated skin, bed sores, chafing etc. must all be kept clean, plus let’s face it we all feel better in ourselves when we feel, look, and smell clean.
A bath gives a much more thorough clean and this in turn helps avoid irritation, inflammation and sores caused by dead skin cell build up. If you already suffer from skin irritations or sensitivities it is advisable not to have the water too hot and to use natural, PH balanced products.
5. Improved Sleep
Good quality sleep is tantamount to good health, however more and more of us are struggling to get enough nightly zzz’s. One way to encourage sleep is by taking a relaxing bath before bed. But if you find it difficult getting in and out of the bathtub, or perhaps you worry about slipping in the bath, bath time can be far from relaxing. The added stress and anxiety can then raise your heart rate and get the adrenaline pumping, and this is nowhere near the perfect recipe for a good night’s sleep.
Switching to a walk-in bath will take away the stress of bath time for you if you have low mobility or are concerned about using a regular bathtub. Having a bath about an hour or two before bedtime helps to lower your core temperature and this is an important signal to your brain that you’re getting ready for bed.
Once you’ve finished your bath, drain the water, and then simply open the door to your walk-in bath and step carefully out. You’ll feel much more relaxed and calmer knowing the safety features are there for you to use if you need them.
The look and style of walk-in baths have changed a lot over the years and in the past they have had an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy image to them. However, times have changed, and you can now get very modern looking baths that aside from the door on the side (which is very subtle) they look just like a regular bath. This means you don’t have to worry about them not fitting in with the look of your bathroom. Ultimately, this is about you or your loved ones being able to continue having and enjoying baths, something we all take for granted, but also something we would miss if we suddenly found ourselves not being able to use one safely. Walk-in baths offer that solution. Giving access to all people to one of life’s basic and most simple pleasures.