Getting in and out of the bathtub can be a huge safety issue and an impossibility for people with certain physical disabilities and illnesses.  In many situations, walk-in bathtubs such as this one from Home Depot, may be the first solution that comes to mind.  These may be the answer for some, but one has to consider the cost of the tub and the installation, which could range anywhere from $4000-$10,000.  Another huge issue to consider is the filling/emptying of the tub.  Walk-in tubs require that you get into the tub and wait patiently for them to fill, which can be a very chilling experience. After bathing when you are all wet, shivering and ready to cuddle into that fluffy towel, you will have to wait for the water to drain almost completely before you can even open the door to exit. This is not only inconvenient, but can be a problem for some people depending on their disability or illness. Check out what Homeability has to say about this.

Bathmaster Sonaris Reclining Bath Lift
Bathmaster Sonaris Reclining Bath Lift

Enter the bathtub lift.  Devices of this type allow the user to lower themselves into the tub, usually with the button push of a handheld remote, allowing the user to take a full bath. With another push of the remote, they can raise you up again.  Bathtub lifts typically run on rechargeable batteries and don’t require the user to wait for the water to drain before exiting.

There are many different types and features of these lifts such as full chairs with reclining backs, sling systems that allow one to go all the way to the bottom, seats that swivel to help you move on to the chair and many more. However, the most important feature to look for in a bath lift, in my opinion, is whether or not it has a battery safety mechanism.  This mechanism ONLY allows the user to lower the chair if there is sufficient battery life left to lift the user out again.

John, a ND man with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), was struggling with getting in and out of his bathtub in a safe manner and had resorted to using only his shower, which was no picnic either.    He received a Molly Bather Bathtub Lift via funds from the IPAT Pedaling for Possibilities program and the MS Society and his life changed for the better.  He said that he can now “safely get in and out of the bathtub” on his own.  He also stated, “With the bath lift, everything is much easier and it provides many more benefits than my shower.”  “I’m smiling.”

Introducing the Molly Bather

If you know someone who needs help with bathing safely or has other issues preventing them from staying in their own home, consider contacting IPAT for help.  We also invite you to call for an appointment to visit our Home First Showroom or download the IPAT Home First app and discover for yourself how assistive technology can help you.

About Author

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Jeannie Krull is the Program Manager for ND Assistive (formerly IPAT). She is an ASHA certified speech/language pathologist and a RESNA certified Assistive Technology Professional, who has worked with people with disabilities of all ages since 1991.