Recommendations, How-to and A Buying Guide
There is nothing more relaxing than having a bath (for some people) and bathtub lifts will allow elderly parents to continue bathing safely and easily.
Seniors can (and do) get stuck in their bathtubs. Bath lifts can prevent this!
They are electric or water powered lifts that will move a person from sitting down to the bottom of the bathtub and back out again.
Bath lifts are the only way to get down into the tub for people that can't physically manage other than replacing an existing tub with a walk in tub or having a ceiling track lift over the bathtub (very rare and expensive).
They not only help a senior to enjoy a nice bath, they also increase safety getting into and out of the tub.
I love to have a bath and have found that a bath lift can be just the right solution for an elderly person who feels the same.
Who Should Use?
Elderly who prefer to have a bath rather than a shower but are no longer safe or cannot physically manage getting up and down from the bottom of the bathtub.
Bath lifts can also be very helpful for people who need to soak in hot water for certain medical conditions.
It solves the main reason why seniors stop taking baths: they are afraid they will not be able to get out.
Who Should NOT Use?
Bath lifts should not be used by elderly who cannot tolerate the position of being on the bottom of the tub. Sometimes a walk in tub is better for people more comfortable in an upright position.
Seniors should also have fair sitting balance and truck control to use a bathtub lift.
I recommend the following features for a bath tub lift:
- Simple to understand buttons on the controller.
- Non-slip lining to sit on.
- Washable, hygienic cover.
- Check how low the bath tub lift will go to the base of the tub. The closer to the base of the tub, the more the elderly person will get a good soak.
- Check height when in the most upright position, some are designed for deeper tubs (measure how high your bathtub lift needs to be before starting to shop).
- Built in safety checks: some bathtub lifts will not lower the person into the tub if there isn't sufficient battery power to lift them out again.
- Consider back recline option.
- A bath lift chair will often have a second version that has a recline option for the backrest.
- I always recommend that people consider this option, particularly if they want the bathtub lift for soaking in the tub to relax.
- Without the recline option, they often end up sitting quite upright, which is less relaxing that reclining back.
- There is usually an extra charge for recline.
Some bath lift accessories include:
- Padded backrest and seat (make sure it is also non-slip)
- Water tight hand control that floats on the water
- Suction cup base
- Extra batteries
- Small wedge on the seat to help keep their bottom back if they are prone to slipping forward
How Do They Work?
There are two main designs:
- Water powered - The senior is lowered and raised by filling and draining water in a bladder under the seat portion of the lift. This is the most cost effective design and hooks up to the existing water faucet.
- Battery powered - This senior is lowered and raised by batter power. The batteries last up to 6 uses and usually will not lower unless it has enough power to return the user to the bathtub edge. The batteries come with a recharger.
Some people are worried about having batteries or electric powered components near the water. This is not a problem.
For electric powered bath lifts, the batteries are recharged through a plug-in away from the bathtub (and the water).
The hydraulic (water) powered bath lifts fill up like a bladder and no battery is needed. Water powered bath tub lifts are generally not as nice to use as electric powered bath tub lifts.
How to Fit
- Lay a board across the top of your bathtub.
- Measure from the middle of the base of the tub to the bottom of the board. This will give you the approximate height your bath tub lift will need to be.
- Measure the width from the outer edges of the lips of the bathtub. This will give you the width needed for your bathtub lift.
Weight Capacity: Don't forget to check the weight capacity.
How to Use
A bath lift chair is used to get the elderly person down to the bottom of the tub and give them a relaxing soak in hot water.
A bath lift chair is also used to allow the senior to access the bathtub in sitting (thus preventing falls).
- Have your elderly parent sit on the middle of the edge of the bath tub lift (when it is in the upright position).
- Once they are feeling secure, they turn their body and lift one leg over the side of the bathtub (in sitting) and into the tub.
- Then they lift their other leg up and over the tub.
- When both legs are inside the bathtub, they can move their bottom towards the middle (still in sitting).
- Once secure in the middle and well balanced, they use the controller to move themselves down to the bottom of the tub.
- If they have the recline option, the backrest will start moving backwards once they are in the lowest position on the bottom of the bathtub. When they are in a comfortable amount of recline, they stop pushing the button.
- When they are done in the bath, they use the controller to move themselves back into upright at the top of the tub and do the reverse of 1, 2, 3 and 4.
How Much Do Bath Lifts Cost?
Bath tub lift chairs usually cost between $1000 and $3000.