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How to Get Out of the Bathtub Safely: a Step-by-Step Guide

by | Senior Well-Being

Getting out of a bathtub sometimes can be really hard and exhausting for seniors. It’s especially true if an elderly person suffers from arthritis, bad knee or any other condition that leads to mobility difficulties. Pain and balance issues make it even more difficult to get out of the tub safely.

In this post, besides showing you how to get out of the bathtub I’ll also give you some suggestions on what measures to take that’ll make your and your senior loved ones’ life much easier.

Note: If you suffer from balance issues, injured or sore limbs, muscle weakness, degenerative joint disease or any kind of mobility disorder you may need an assistive device to get out of the bathtub safely. In these cases, I recommend that you consult with your physician for a personalized solution.

The Best Way for Seniors to Get Out of the Bathtub Safely

  1. From a sitting position, grab the edge of the tub (make sure it’s not wet or slippery) and pull yourself onto your side.
  2. Next, move on to your hands and knees. Now you’re facing the bottom of the bathtub.
  3. From this position push yourself up onto your knees by holding on to both edges of the tub. Now you’re on your knees only.
  4. Continue holding on to the edges of the tub and slowly raise your knees from the floor of the bathtub.
  5. Still, continue holding on to the edges of the tub and lift one leg and bring it over the side of the tub. Now you have one leg inside and one outside of the bathtub. Make sure you’re standing firmly on your leg outside and that the floor beside the tub is not wet or slippery.
  6. Now raise the other leg and bring it over the side of the tub meanwhile still holding on to the edges of the bathtub.
  7. By now you’re outside of the tub and standing with both feet on the ground.

As a side note, if you want to make your whole bathroom much safer for seniors, check out our complete guide here.

We also have a comprehensive article about fall prevention in the elderly with many helpful tips.

How to Get Out of the Bathtub with Knee Problems Using a Transfer Bench?

If you suffer from arthritis or had a knee replacement, following the above-mentioned steps can be uncomfortable for you. However, having bad knees doesn’t mean you have to give up using the tub. All you have to do is make getting out of the bathtub a safe and easy process. For this purpose, you’ll need a bathtub transfer bench.

Many times a bath chair is used for assistance in exiting a tub, however, this can be an unsafe solution. Bath chairs have all the legs inside the bathtub and can become unstable while getting out of the tub. In contrast, a transfer bench has two of the legs inside the tub and two of them outside that makes it much more stable.

If you recently had a knee or hip replacement surgery and you feel insecure getting out of the tub, I strongly recommend you get a bathtub transfer bench. It will definitely help you getting out of the bathtub and make your life so much easier. This is an affordable and reliable model from a trusted manufacturer.

So, how to get out of the bathtub using a transfer bench?

  1. In a seated position lift your legs and bring them over the edge of the bathtub.
  2. Slide over to the edge of the transfer bench.
  3. Push yourself up from the bench.

When using a transfer bench always test for stability. To further enhance safety use a non-slip mat inside the tub and install a handheld showerhead.

Walk-In Bathtub: a Comfortable Solution

A walk-in bathtub is similar to a traditional tub, but it has a watertight door that lets you easily step in the tub. It can be a really comfortable solution because it lets you to fully enjoy bathing without the need of any chair, bench or other assistive devices. However, it has a disadvantage: you have to get in the tub before you start to fill it and you have to wait until it drains before getting out of it.

walk-in-tub

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Walk-In Tub?

It’s not cheap. A walk-in tub itself usually costs between $1,000 and $5,000. Installation is an additional $1,500 – $5,000 depending on the amount of work the construction requires.

Are Walk-In Tubs Covered by Medicare?

Unfortunately, walk-in tubs are not considered Durable Medical Equipment (DME), therefore in the vast majority of cases, Medicare does not cover the costs of purchasing and installing them.

However, if the walk-in tub is a medical necessity and you have a medical prescription, Medicare can decide in your favor and cover some or all of your costs in the form of reimbursement. So it’s a risky solution because you won’t get any money from Medicare in advance and you can’t be sure Medicare will pay after the purchase.

You have a much higher chance of success with Medicaid if you need your walk-in tub covered.

Bathtub Lifts for Seniors – How Do They Work?

A bathtub lift is a seat with a back that has to be placed inside the tub. The device can be lowered into the water with a remote control or with a built-in control panel. After that, you can sit on the seat and use the tub as you normally would. When you finish bathing the lift raises you up to a position from which you can get out of the tub easily and safely.

At first sight, bath lifts may look similar to bath chairs, however, they are powered by a motor and can be lowered into the water. The same cannot be said of bath chairs. Bathtub lifts can be an alternative to walk-in tubs: they provide a similar experience at a lower price, plus their installation is much easier and faster. When purchasing make sure you opt for a model that fits in your tub and has suction cup feet like this one.

Air inflatable bath lifts can be a more comfortable solution than traditional bath lifts. They allow a deeper submerge in the water, however, they usually have a lower seat height that makes it more difficult to get out of the tub. In addition, they’re not as stable as traditional bath lifts, therefore they’re not recommended for seniors with balance issues.

More Tips to Make Getting Out of Bathtub Safer and Easier

  • Install grab bars around the bathtub to make getting in and out of it safer and easier. A simple U-shaped grab bar attached to the edge of the tub can really make a difference. I recommend you check out this model on Amazon.
  • Never use a towel bar instead of a grab bar because they’re not designed to hold a person’s weight.
  • Make sure bathroom flooring is not wet or slippery and use non-slip mats inside and outside the tub. Never use towels instead of non-slip rugs.
  • Many seniors have some kind of vision impairment: if you’re one of them make sure lighting is adequate in the bathroom that will help you to notice tripping hazards.
  • Place commonly used items, such as soap, shower gel, shampoo, within reach.
  • Install a medical alert button close to the tub or purchase a waterproof medical alert watch. We have a comprehensive guide on how to choose the best one.
  • A bathtub board can be used instead of a transfer bench but keep in mind that bath boards have no back and they’re not as stable as transfer benches.
  • Getting in and out of the bathtub can be even easier if you use a sturdy bath step. The only disadvantage is that it can be a tripping hazard.
  • Consider doing some balance exercises regularly to improve muscle strength. These kinds of exercises play an important role in fall prevention.

We’ve collected 70+ important home safety rules in this article that help you prevent accidents, injuries, and also burglaries.

Photo: Flickr

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About the Author

James Mora is the founder of DailyHomeSafety. He is an avid DIYer, former healthcare professional and security manager. He is passionate about home improvement and teaching.