Contributed by: George Bentley
Owner, Bentley Baths
In 2002, my Mother fell in the bathroom and broke her hip. I was not prepared for the downward spiral her health went through following that fall. The hip injury set in motion what I now know to be a very common pattern of health problems that directly led to her dying in a nursing home in 2004. My 87 year old Dad made it clear, “I will never go into a nursing home!”
As a result, I have spent three years interviewing hundreds of seniors and their caregivers, and researching all available products and technologies learning how to keep seniors “aging in place” safely. When I learned of walk-in bathing technology, I was amazed and fascinated. But, I knew nothing about them. So, I researched and analyzed every walk-in tub I could find (including recently tubs from China), in order to learn how to determine which product was right for a given situation, which one’s were high quality and which were not.
I have come to believe walk-in bathing technology is, without question, the single most important “first step” to being able to live, and thrive, independently in place for as long as you chose.
Let me share with you the general problem and the three most serious issues every senior who wants to age in place needs to address. I will also discuss how walk-in bathing technologies can help alleviate them.
As you read this information, have your goal clearly in mind, and ask yourself, how does walk-in bathtub technology address it? Simply stated, most often the goal is how do you or your loved ones, bathe and experience longevity in your preferred location, with safety, and dignity.
After interviewing hundreds of seniors, and learning first hand their health and bathing challenges, I have created a few simple questions to determine those who will benefit from this powerful technology.
Longevity – Do you suffer from joint problems, diabetes, or any chronic condition? Are you taking any prescription medication? Do you experience cleansing whole body exercise or stimulation at least 3 times a week?
Safety – Do you put off bathing? Do you shower instead of soak? If so,… why? Do you have to maneuver your body or grab onto support to get in and out of the tub or shower? Has anyone observed what you do to use a tub or shower? Do you use a movable seat? Can you get down into your tub without stress? Can you get up without strain? Have you had a fall, or a near fall, in the past 7 years?
Dignity – Is living independently in your own home for as long as possible important to you? Does your spouse or a loved help you bathe?
Are you a private person? Would it make you uncomfortable to be bathed by strangers? Is being lifted or transferred into the bathing area something you’d prefer not to need?
As we age, our strength, stamina and flexibility diminish. We eventually face a range of bathing issues that did not exist when we were young. However, our bathing environment stays the same. We don’t remodel our bathrooms to incorporate technology to eliminate the dangers.
Many seniors are embarrassed to acknowledge that they have these problems. Often, they would rather ignore them. Few spouses, or grown children ever observe the gyrations and stress that many seniors experience as they quietly struggle to bathe in the privacy of their bathrooms. We tend to ignore the problem until a senior is injured and forced into assisted bathing. I believe that walk-in bathing appliances offer the ability to delay this result for many years, perhaps forever.
Let’s take a realistic look at the impact traditional bathtubs have on seniors.
Reality #1 – Your bathroom is the most dangerous room in your home! Currently, 80% of all people in nursing homes are there due to complications from fall related injuries. Falls, sprains and scalds in traditional bathrooms account for the vast majority of these injuries.
Solution – Walk-in bathing appliances have high side walls and a low threshold door that permits bathers to enter without needing to lift their feet more than a few inches. Appropriately placed ADA grab bars provide personalized stabilization throughout this process. Once in, the bather can lower onto a raised integral seat – AND RELAX! There is no risk of slipping, falling, or trying to get up or down from floor level. Anti-scald valves, drains and accessories are within easy reach.
Reality #2 – Every injury or illness can financially devastate a senior’s savings and financial stability. Healthcare costs are soaring. Many long-term care insurance companies are going under. With my Mom’s hip, my parents spent over $30,000 in uninsured medical expenses, and, $8,000 or more, each and every month, IN CASH, for her nursing home care. Few seniors can afford this.
Solution – Investing in preventative bathing safety products saves money and pays for itself. Even the most expensive walk-in bathing solution can cost far less than a nursing home stay. The investment in prevention and health is crucial to thriving in older age and preserving your cherished financial resources. Think of it this way, if someone is barely getting by financially,… they cannot afford to NOT invest in bathroom safety! As with my Mom, once an accident occurs, it is often too late,… and it nearly bankrupted my parents.
Reality #3 – Few seniors have sufficient access to healthy, non-aggressive, whole-body exercise. Most diseases, like arthritis, diabetes, MS, joint problems, cancer and many others, are due to long term, low grade inflammations. Unresolved, these conditions worsen and can shorten life. Certainly, pain and discomfort become more problematic. As we age, we often don’t have any way to exercise, and stimulate our body to help cleanse the toxins and contaminants that lead to inflammation, pain and debilitating degenerative conditions.
Solution – Medical Hydrotherapy™ delivers sanitary, gentle whole-body massage, and can have truly life altering impact on a senior’s health, relaxation and sense of wellbeing. High quality walk-in bathtubs offer the option of hydrotherapy (not dangerous jetted “hot tubs”). Art Linkletter (currently 95) once told me: “Some people are more afraid of being old than they are of dying,.. The important thing is to have a positive attitude and exercise.” Every single client I have raves about the relaxation, pain reduction and invigorating benefits they receive from hydrotherapy. Many report they are able to reduce expensive, harmful medications.
My Mother always told me: “Knowledge is Power!” We MUST make bathrooms safer, and do our best to prevent injuries from ever happening. Once an injury occurs, it may be too late, like it was for my Mom. You cannot live independently until you have resolved bathing issues for the long-term. Knowledge of bathing technologies, like walk-in tubs, can empower you to take control of your intention to live independently for as long as possible.
Contact George Bentley, Founder/Owner – Bentley Baths