The 7 Best Bathtub Lifts
This wiki has been updated 26 times since it was first published in October of 2016. Whether you're not as spry as you once were, but aren't quite ready to call in reinforcements, or are caring for a loved one with limited mobility, these handy lifts can make getting into and out of a bathtub a lot easier. From electrically-powered systems to portable solutions that let you enjoy a good soak wherever you go, you'll find something in our selection to suit any need. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
January 09, 2020:
The best bath lifts designed for home usage have a similar structure, with features like sturdy side flaps to make transferring out of the tub to another chair seamless and waterproof remotes. But you'll have to consider your personal needs and the kind of tub you have to make the best choice.
Our top choice, the Drive Medical Whisper reclines all the way back to 50 degrees, more than most other options and its discreet, quiet functioning also makes it a popular choice. While the unit itself is not overly heavy to move for travel or storage, it may not be the best choice for smaller, shorter tubs, because the recline area in back means less space in front to stretch out your legs.
We included the less robust Lumex Splash because it doesn't recline, and fits nicely at the back of the tub for users for whom lots of leg room is a priority, even if their tub is small. One of the major trade-offs with this model is that the weight capacity is only 280 pounds.
We added the Aquatec SRB and the Drive Medical Hydraulic to make it easier for caregivers to bathe those least able to help themselves. The Aquatec SRB offers the added side flaps and a strap to help keep the upper body stable. And the Drive Medical Hydraulic is not just for bathtub use, but can make a refreshing, full body bath a possibility for persons with limited to no mobility.
Pro Bath Chair Lift This device takes you from a seated position outside the tub and transfers you over and then down into your bath. While the Pro Bath Chair Lift doesn't require any structural or plumbing changes to install, it does need to be bolted into the floor and ceiling, so it is a semi-permanent option. You can choose a standard seat or one with a cut-out bottom. myhomeforlife.com
Molly Bather The versatile Molly Bather was designed in England, but is now sold all over the world. It's simplicity makes it easy for the people to use it by themselves and is best for users with good balance who just need a little help getting in and out of the tub. The cloth, sling-like bottom means you get fully submerged. Optional components are available to allow it to fit must tub styles and sizes. molly-bather.co.uk
The Benefits Of A Bathtub Lift
They are designed to begin flush with the edge of the tub so all you have to do is slide yourself or your loved one into the seat and let the machine do the lowering.
If you have an elderly or physically impaired loved one, the bathroom is a key area you will need to alter to make their home more comfortable and accessible. When it's time to move beyond a simple security rail, there are multiple options to help make bathing easier and safer, but a bathtub lift has real advantages over most of them.
Newer homes often have larger showers that might give you the space to install a shower bench, but it will probably take a considerable investment to make it large enough for those who are wheelchair bound. In addition, a shower bench doesn't allow the user to enjoy the considerable therapeutic and health benefits of a hot bath. While providing relief to sore muscles is a well-known plus, a warm bath can also lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and help ensure a good night's sleep.
Walk-in tubs have gained popularity with seniors, but you still need to be able to step into the tub and lower yourself into the seated position. Another disadvantage is that this option is quite expensive and definitely requires professional installation. Bathtub lifts are significantly cheaper, and they do all the work for you. They are designed to begin flush with the edge of the tub so all you have to do is slide yourself or your loved one into the seat and let the machine do the lowering. You can also fill the bath ahead of time to your desired temperature instead of sitting in the cold walk-in tub while it fills. You'll find the seats are slip-resistant with comfortable padding, and some even recline for more a more pleasant experience.
Most bathtub lifts do not require professional installation, and many models come apart for complete cleaning and disinfection. They are lightweight enough to take with you when visiting relatives, and will not permanently alter your bathroom, making this a great option for someone recovering from surgery. Because of its simple operation, a bathtub lift can be used alone by those who are not too physically impaired, allowing them more privacy and dignity.
Are Bathtub Lifts Safe?
Falls are a major cause of injury and even death for elderly Americans, and falls in the bathroom with all the slippery and hard surfaces can be particularly devastating. Anyone who is having just mild difficulty getting around with age should consider it unsafe not to invest making their bathing area easier to navigate. Caregivers who need to expend significant energy helping their patients into the tub will find a bathtub lift makes their job safer, as well.
Hand controllers are also sealed, but look for one that floats so you don't have to worry about losing it to the bottom of the tub if you drop it.
You'll be happy to know that any quality lift is produced by manufacturers of durable medical equipment who understand that safety is a top priority. And while you might wonder if it is wise to use an electronic device to aid you in taking a bath, there is no need to be concerned, as these units are powered by rechargeable batteries that are securely sealed into the lift. Hand controllers are also sealed, but look for one that floats so you don't have to worry about losing it to the bottom of the tub if you drop it.
Another safety feature to look for on a quality tub lift is some kind of battery life indicator. You don't want to get stuck in the bath and then find out there isn't enough juice to lift you back up. Many will warn you with lights and even sounds that the battery needs a charge before you use it. Some are smart enough that they will not lower you unless the unit has enough power to get you back up, which could be an especially important feature for those who intend to use a bathtub lift on their own. Users who are not wheelchair-bound might want to consider keeping an arm-less shower chair near the tub. This can help make the transition to the lift seat smooth and effortless.
Paying For A Bathtub Lift
While investing in a bathtub lift can be a hit to the pocketbook, many find that using one can actually save them money in the long run. This is especially true for users who are completely unable to get themselves into a tub. If you are paying a professional to come to your house, bathing is most likely one of the areas where they are providing assistance. Even a small reduction in the frequency and time a home health care worker spends at your house can add up to a lot of savings.
While investing in a bathtub lift can be a hit to the pocketbook, many find that using one can actually save them money in the long run.
It is a rare caregiver who has the strength to lift their loved one into and out of the tub without some extra hands, but if you are are lifting someone into the tub on your own, serious back problems are most likely a part of your future. The potential savings in chiropractic bills alone could be enough to justify the purchase. Serious back injuries will also result in missed days at work and an increased need for hired help around the house.
Depending on your reason for choosing a bathtub lift, some users may get part or all of their cost reimbursed through their medical insurance or even Medicare. You will definitely need a doctor's prescription for your case to even be considered, and it's possible you will be limited to a specific set of vendors. In the end, purchasing one directly online might still be less expensive than the retailers your insurance will require, but it's an avenue worth investigating.