empty bathtub with the drain plugged

Elderly Bathtub Buying Guide – Part 1: Walk-in Bathtub Pros and Cons

February 27 2018

Elderly Bathtub Guide

Are you looking at elderly bathtub options? Has it become too much of a hassle getting in and out of your current bathtub? An elderly bathtub may be just what you need to have a safe and satisfying bathing experience.

There are several options for elderly bathtubs. To help you choose the best bathtub for your needs, we’ll be covering the pros and cons of each type of elderly bathtub in a series of posts.

Elderly Bathtub Options

Each post in this series will cover a different type of elderly bathtub. The ones we plan to cover right now include: walk-in tubs, slide-in tubs, and bath chair lifts that can go inside your existing tub.

These three options can create a safe and comfortable bathing and showering experience for the elderly, or for people with mobility issues.

In this post we’ll be covering the pros and cons of walk-in bathtubs.

So what is a walk-in bathtub?

The Walk-in Bathtub

As the name implies, a walk-in bathtub requires that you’re actually able to walk into the bathtub, which is different than a freestanding tub shower combo. If you use a walker or a wheel chair, a slide-in tub or bath chair lift will be better options for you.

The main attraction of this type of elderly bathtub is the side or front door that allows you to simply walk into the bathtub without stepping over the side wall. Water will not leak out from this door thanks to a special type of sealing.

Unlike a portable bathtub, a walk-in tub is a permanent fixture that requires professional installation.


This type of elderly bathtub is great for those who can walk just fine, but can’t lift their legs to get into a traditional bathtub.

Walk-in bathtubs allow many features that help in prevent slipping, which is a huge safety concern with traditional bathtubs.

These safety features include:

  • seating inside the tub
  • an adjustable shower head
  • adjustable bubble jets
  • handrails


There are a few cons with this type of elderly bathtub that are worth noting:

  • As mentioned earlier, you still must be able to walk into the tub. If you use a walker or a wheelchair, there are better options out there for you.
  • With most walk-in bathtubs, you won’t be able to fully submerge your body in the water. If you’re imagining yourself lying back and letting the water soothe your aching shoulders and back, then you might be disappointed, unless you can afford one of the larger walk-in tubs.
  • You’ll have to open the tub’s side or front door before the water turns on. You might get impatient waiting for the tub to fill. You’ll also have to wait for the tub to drain as well before you can open the side door and get out.

If the things in the last point bother you, then you should consider choosing a fast filling and/or fast draining tub with good temperature control. You could also bring something to read while you wait for the tub to fill and drain.

If you’re concerned about the potential safety risks of not being able to get out of the tub during an emergency until the water has drained, then you should make sure that the tub has an emergency mechanism for opening the door when the tub is still full.


Overall, the walk-in elderly bathtub is best for those who are still able to walk on their own. It doesn’t require other pieces to make it function the way it should.

However, a walk-in bathtub that has all of the features you want may be out of your budget.

©2022 Hanover Supply