Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Who Needs a Tub When You Have a Pool?!

Walk-in tubs may seem like a good idea, but read this post before you take the plunge!
Grandma E has always loved a good soak in the bath tub.  However, as she has aged - and her knees have begun to give her trouble - she has found getting out of the tub to be nearly impossible.  This was discussed a couple of years ago when my husband and his older brother supervised the remodel of Grandma's master bathroom and offered the option of a walk-in tub.  She opted for a shower with a seat and detachable sprayer...and she said, "I just won't take baths any more."

But a few months ago, a neighbor alerted me that Grandma had told her how difficult it was to get out of the tub in her guest bath...explaining that she had to turn over onto her hands and knees and crawl out, one leg at a time!  The neighbor had suggested she investigate walk-in tubs...and she wanted me to know this!

Even though the tubs were discussed at one point - and dismissed - my husband did his due diligence and investigated them thoroughly once again.  He presented the details to Grandma E and explained that, while they look like a great solution, there are drawbacks.

You must get into the tub, close the door, sit down, and wait while it fills with water.  This can take ten minutes or more.  The process is the same for the tub to drain after the bath.  You cannot open the door until all of the water is out of the tub.  While many models do include a heater in the seat, it still can get fairly chilly as you sit there...especially if you are wet and waiting for the water to drain.

The tubs must be thoroughly cleaned...or they can mildew.  For an older person, this can be a daunting chore, and not all seniors have housekeepers to do this for them.  Additionally, the price and quality varies greatly.  The "better" models can sell for upwards of $25,000...yes, twenty-five THOUSAND dollars!  One reviewer said that he went to the trouble and expense of installing them in his senior living condos...only to remove them later because they were not being used - or people were using them as storage hampers!

But the kicker for Grandma E was when she said, "I just want to sit and soak in warm water up over my shoulders."  Even in the best walk-in tub, this is not going to happen!  So I suggested that perhaps she should come with me to our city's Aquatic Center and sit in the therapy pool.  Heated to a balmy 94 degrees Fahrenheit, this pool has a built-in bench along one wall where one can sit and enjoy the jets (or not). Depths range from just over 3 feet to 5 feet, so there are plenty of spots along the wall where a person can soak in warm water up around their ears!

Grandma participated in senior water aerobics classes a few years ago at this pool, but she was reluctant to return now. I had tried to get her to go with me several times, and she would always say, "I look horrible in a bathing suit now."  I told her I should hope to look so good in a bathing suit when I am 90!  We talked some more about the pool, and I mentioned several selling points...I would pick her up and take her home...and she could soak while I did my aerobics workout.  There is even a motorized "lift" if she felt she was unable to use the steps to walk into the pool and get back out. I would handle everything with regard to a membership. Finally, she agreed to give it a try.

It took one trip for Grandma to be hooked!  We now go at least three days a week.  The "lift" has never been used...and Grandma never just sits and soaks. She walks around, bounces to the music that is piped in, and visits with others who happen to be soaking/swimming in the therapy pool. We stay about an hour. She has a new swimsuit and swim cap...and with insurance discounts, her "membership" fee was a whopping $25 for the year...with unlimited use!

Aside from the benefit of getting to soak in the warm water, Grandma's knee is much better.  She had been receiving a cortisone shot in her knee every three months.  In February, she was hurting so badly that she counted nearly every minute of the last week before her shot date. She started going to the pool right after that injection, and when her scheduled appointment rolled around in mid-May, she canceled it!  She says she is sleeping better and feeling better all over...and she will be 91 in three weeks!

tA community center "therapy pool" may offer seniors a great alternative to the risky business of soaking in the bath tub at home!
I made a point to set up overnight stays for Timothy, Zola and Nathan on consecutive Fridays, so that they could swim on Saturday mornings with Grandma E and me.  While the child and I play in the Olympic-sized swimming pool, Grandma watches us from her bench in the therapy pool.  This makes for a great interchange on the ride to and from the pool, and it gives Grandma something to do while she sits and soaks for an hour.  We plan to do more of these trips this summer.

As always, there are some interesting parallels between the children and Grandma.  I watch both carefully as we get in and out of the car...the child to make sure he/she does not dart into traffic and is securely fastened into the car seat while traveling...and Grandma to make sure she doesn't slip and fall - and that her seat belt is securely fastened before we depart!  I watch all of them get in and out of the pool - and keep a close eye on them as they "swim".  The children become more brave and confident in the water with every visit to the pool.  Grandma becomes a little more bold with her moves, also!  The children are always eager to go to the pool for a swim.  Most days, Grandma eagerly agrees to go "get her swim on", also!

We are blessed to have a wonderful Community Center and Aquatic Center in our town.  The fee for unlimited use of all facilities for our family of five is $25/month...and as I noted earlier, Grandma's fee is $25 annually.  That is a tremendous bargain. We can swim year-round in this indoor pool...7 days a week, usually. The pool rarely closes, unless there is thunder in the area!  For those who are more adventurous, there are water aerobics classes, water Zumba classes...and a wonderful class that meets several times a week in the therapy pool that is geared toward seniors with arthritis.

The only drawback I have found for the little ones is that they are not allowed in the therapy pool unless they are taking a swim lesson with a certified instructor...and the "big pool" is four feet deep at the shallow end.  None of my children are that tall yet, so they cannot touch bottom...and this has affected their confidence level.  They are all three still wearing life preservers...but I am seeing progress and hoping that soon, they will be swimming like fish - all on their own.

I realize that not all communities have indoor pools.  And I am sure that walk-in tubs have their place and are great for some folks.  But this did not seem like a viable solution for our situation...and in doing our homework, we came to the conclusion that these tubs may not be all they're cracked up to be!  Thankfully, we had a "Plan B" least for a while. I realize that not all communities have indoor pools.  And I am sure that walk-in tubs have their place and are great for some folks.  But this did not seem like a viable solution for our situation...and in doing our homework, we came to the conclusion that these tubs may not be all they're cracked up to be!  Thankfully, we had a "Plan B" least for a while.  I know people who are well past age 95 and still using this therapy hopefully, Grandma E and the kids and I can all make the frequent trek to the Aquatic Center for many years to come yet!

There is something therapeutic about water...and water exercise.  It's good for the body, mind and soul...and we are living proof.  When was the last time you took a dip?