Your guide to walk-in showers for the elderly – Forbes Health
A walk-in shower is a financial investment, so it’s important that you buy the right one for your home. For example, consider safety devices, such as a built-in chair and grab bars. “Consider that you might not always be as mobile as you are now and build in accessibility features,” says Archie. “Even health events that are temporary can be very confusing when it comes to taking a shower.”
Important safety features to consider in a walk-in shower include:
- A seat at chair height. Many walk-in showers have a built-in seat, which is often “ideal for people who have difficulty standing for long periods of time,” says Aly. A chair can prove useful for a wide variety of people, adds Archie, from someone who has just had a stroke to someone who is eight months pregnant. As the seats are often low, Archie recommends making sure the user can easily get out of the seat. If you decide you don’t have a built-in shower seat, Archie suggests making sure there is enough room for a freestanding shower chair, should you ever need it.
- Grab bars. These can be installed anywhere on the shower walls and help prevent falls, says Archie. Users can easily grab the bars for extra balance or support whenever they need it while showering.
- A shower trolley. Consider installing a shower basket in a convenient location near the entrance to the shower. “The easy-to-access features of a shower make it much safer for everyone,” says Aly.
- Scald guard. Some walk-in showers include anti-scald technology, which helps prevent scalding by changing the water flow if the water temperature gets too hot.
Some people choose to completely renovate their bathroom to have a walk-in shower installed, Aly says, but you can also buy a unit that fits into your existing tub or shower.
Some manufacturers, such as Safe Step, offer professional walk-in shower installation, which makes the process easier. Installation typically takes one to two days, depending on the company, and it is committed to not damaging your floors, walls, cabinets, or other appliances.
Some companies, however, do not offer installation services. In that case, your options are to install it yourself – which Carpenter advises against – or to hire a professional plumber. “Even if you buy the best model online, it’s still a job for a professional to ensure a waterproof installation process,” he says.
You also need to consider the floor around your walk-in shower, as it’s best to use polished or non-slip floor tiles, says Aly.
Cost and insurance coverage
Expenses for walk-in showers vary depending on the exact model you choose and the installation methods required. You can expect to pay between $ 3,500 and $ 15,000 for a walk-in shower, according to Home Guide.
Health insurance does not cover the installation of a walk-in shower, Archie says, even if it is necessary due to a health problem. Original Medicare does not consider it to be durable medical equipment and therefore will not cover the costs either.
However, “some long-term care insurance policies provide coverage for home modifications that keep you at home and not in a facility,” Archie notes. Check with your insurer to see if any coverage options are included in your policy.
Some states have a home and community service exemption designed to help seniors stay in their homes as they age and receive care. These waivers can sometimes be used to make modifications to the home, including installing a walk-in shower.