Best Bath Lifts for Elderly Seniors

bathtub lift for elderly seniors

Many seniors enjoy a good bath, whether they’re soaking sore muscles and achy joints, or just relaxing and unwinding before bed. For many, a shower or sponge bath just isn’t a satisfying alternative!

However, getting in and out of a traditional bathtub can be difficult – or downright dangerous – for elderly seniors with conditions that affect their mobility, strength or balance. Many seniors are unable to get in or out of the tub at all.

Bath lifts have made a big difference for many seniors who have trouble getting in the bathtub. 

Bath lifts are special chairs that are designed to lower a senior into their existing bathtub, and then lift them back out again afterwards. Seniors who are able to sit down on the bench and scoot or swivel their legs around to place their feet in the tub can use a bath lift.

Bath lifts are much less expensive than a walk-in tub or bathroom renovation, however it still represents a major purchase! There’s a lot to consider when selecting a bath lift, and it’s important to get it right in order to make bathing comfortable, safe and successful for your senior’s specific needs.  

For our top pick, we’ve chosen the Tranquilo Premium Electric Bath Lift. Most seniors find that this electric bath lift meets all their needs – and all for a budget-friendly price tag!

Let’s begin by looking at our seven top choice bath lifts for the elderly. Later, we’ll break down the major considerations, so you can select the best bath lift for your situation. 

1. Graham-Field Lumex Splash Bath Lift

Lightest Bath Lift for the Elderly
Lumex Splash Bath Lift with Ultra-Compact Design and Remote Control, 5033A-1

Graham-Field Lumex Splash Bath Lift

Lightweight, portable and ultra-compact with 2-button remote for ease of use

About: At under 15 pounds, the Graham-Field Lumex Splash Bath Lift is among the very lightest electric bath lifts available. It’s highly portable and ultra-compact, making it easy to take along for travel, or stow just about anywhere when not in use.

Features:

  • Lightweight, ultra-compact design
  • Optimizes available legroom
  • Smooth, quiet operation
  • Easy-to-use remote
  • Easy to clean

When stored in its lowest position, the Lumex is barely noticeable in the bathtub, so it’s unobtrusive in the bathroom, and doesn’t stand out or compete against the overall decor. 

However, the lack of visual contrast with the tub may make it harder for seniors with poor eyesight to judge where the edge of the seat ends – putting them at a higher risk for slipping off of it and getting hurt. Seniors with visual impairments should look for a bath lift with bold, contrasting colors for safety, or mark the edge of the seat with a bold, waterproof tape.

This Lumex lift features side flaps so seniors can scoot smoothly into place on the seat, making it easy, safe and comfortable to slide over the wall of the tub.

With its low minimum seat height, the Lumex maximizes immersion in the bath water to allow for a warm, comfortable soak. 

This lift’s fixed-back design hugs the rear of the tub to optimize available legroom – a welcome feature for taller individuals. Seniors who find sitting upright to be uncomfortable, however, may prefer a lift with a reclining seat. 

The Lumex’s slim 2-button remote is designed for simplicity and ease of use, making it ideal for seniors with small hands, poor dexterity or mild confusion.

Technical Specifications

  • Weight Capacity: 280 pounds
  • Seat Dimensions: 13 wide x 13.4 inches deep
  • Seat Height Range: 2.8 – 18.1 inches
  • Max Recline Angle: N/A – fixed
  • Portable: yes
  • Weight: 14.3 pounds

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Slim, unobtrusive design
  • Fixed seat optimizes legroom for taller seniors
  • Budget-conscious

Cons

  • Fixed seat may not be comfortable for those who need to recline in the bath
  • Lack of visual contrast may not be optimal for visually impaired seniors

2. Aquatec Special Reclining Bath (SRB) Lift

Best Extra Upper Body Support
Aquatec SRB Special Reclining Bath Lift, Adjustable Side Supports, Elevating Lift with Hand Remote, 300 lb. Weight Capacity, White, 1573878

Aquatec Special Reclining Bath (SRB) Lift

A bath lift with an extra-long reclining backrest and increased upper body support

About: The Aquatec Special Reclining Bath (SRB) Lift is the strong frontrunner for seniors who need extra upper body support in the bath due to poor trunk strength, a history of strokes, or other conditions. 

Its 26-inch, extra-long reclining backrest includes enhanced neck support. Multiple side wings and a padded chest strap gently support the senior in a safe, comfortable position.

Features:

  • Padded chest strap and upper body side supports 
  • Extra-long reclining backrest with neck support
  • Optional machine-washable cover included
  • Disassembles easily for transport

It’s unsafe and uncomfortable for seniors with profound upper body weakness to sit in many of the electric bath lifts available today. However, the Aquatec SRB is designed especially for their unique needs. 

The SRB features comfortable wings which cradle the hips gently into place, while its unique adjustable lateral side wings, and soft padded chest strap center a senior’s upper body safely in the seat.

The SRB’s low, 2.5 inch minimum seat height means that the senior can relax well immersed in the warm water. However, because the extra-long seat is a bit large – and also reclines – seniors with long legs may feel a bit too cramped to relax for too long!

The ergonomically-designed floating hand control is easy to operate, even for seniors with poor hand strength, dexterity or eyesight – and, it’s easy to retrieve if dropped in the bath!

The SRB lift can be folded and dismantled with a single hand, so it’s easy to move out of the tub for storage, or toss in the trunk to take along for travel. 

Note that the SRB’s seat only reclines once it is fully lowered into the tub, so this lift may be uncomfortable or even unsafe for seniors who can’t sit upright at all. Seniors who can’t sit up at all should consider a bath hoist rather than a lift.

Technical Specifications

  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Seat Dimensions: 15 inches wide (28 with flaps extended) x 19 inches deep
  • Seat Height Range: 2.5 – 17 inches
  • Max Recline Angle: 40 degrees
  • Portable: yes
  • Weight: 28 pounds

Pros

  • Extra neck and upper body support, including chest safety strap
  • Optional washable seat cover comes included 
  • Reclining seat
  • Easy to fold for travel or storage

Cons

  • Seat reclines only when fully lowered in the tub
  • Limited legroom for taller seniors
  • Higher price point

3. Aquatec Reclining Back Bath Lift

Another Great Pick
Aquatec R Reclining Back Bath Lift, Elevating Lift with Hand Remote, 300 lb. Weight Capacity, Blue, 1573972

Aquatec Reclining Back Bath Lift

Comfortable high-backed seat with extra neck support

About: The Aquatec Reclining Back Bath Lift features one of the most comfortable bath seats, thanks to its several unique features. 

An extra-high back, integrated neck support, and ample seat area pair with a gently textured surface, removable cover and special pinch-free wings to provide a safe and supportive bathing experience. 

Features:

  • Extra-long high back reclining seat with integrated neck support
  • Ample sized seat dimensions for larger builds
  • Easily dismantles for compact storage
  • Low minimum seat height for maximum water immersion
  • Washable seat cover

The Aquatec’s high-backed seat includes integrated neck support. It reclines up to 40 degrees for a relaxing bathing experience. Note that the seatback will only recline once the Aquatec is in its lowest position in the tub, so the senior must be able to tolerate sitting upright to some extent.

The floating, ergonomic hand control is suitable for most seniors, even those with poor eyesight or hand dexterity, thanks to its large buttons and simple, high-contrast design.

The Aquatec’s specially hinged wings protect the skin from pinching. They provide a safe, smooth transition into the lift, and cradle the senior’s hips securely and comfortably. 

The seat’s gently textured surface protects fragile skin from tearing, and is comfortable with or without the included cover.

Designed for easy storage, the Aquatec can be easily dismantled in a few simple steps. The two sections fit inside each other for compact storage. 

The Aquatec is also available in a heavy-duty model, as a bariatric bath lift for seniors weighing up to 385 pounds. 

Technical Specifications

  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Seat Dimensions: 28 inches wide (with flaps extended) or 15 inches wide (flaps down) x 19 inches deep
  • Seat Height Range: 2.5 – 17 inches
  • Max Recline Angle: 40 degrees
  • Portable: yes
  • Weight: 28 pounds

Pros

  • Reclining seat
  • Neck support
  • Ergonomic, floating, high-contrast hand control is easy to use for most seniors
  • Designed for easy compact storage

Cons

  • Reclining seats often mean less leg room for long-legged seniors

4. Drive Medical Whisper Ultra Quiet Bath Lift

Great for Visually Impaired Seniors
Drive Medical 477150312 Whisper Handicap Bath Lift Chair, Blue

Drive Medical Whisper Ultra Quiet Bath Lift

Simple bath lift with backrest and ability to recline up to 50 degrees

About: The Drive Medical Whisper Ultra Quiet Bath Lift’s bold blue color offers excellent contrast against the background, enabling seniors with visual or cognitive impairments to know just where to sit down safely. Its floating hand control is also tailored for seniors with vision loss, with its simple design and four large, brightly colored, easy-press buttons. 

Features:

  • Whisper-quiet operation for a relaxing, comfortable bath
  • Folds up compactly for easy portability and storage
  • Reclines to a full fifty degrees
  • High-contrast coloring to enhance visibility

The Whisper features a comfortable padded seat and backrest, and reclines to a full 50 degrees – among the best reclines on the market. It’s ultra-low 2.3 inch minimum seat height means that this bath lift accommodates a relaxing and comfortable bathing experience that submerges the senior as much as possible into the warm bath water. 

Taller seniors may find that their long legs feel a bit cramped with reclining seats. If they are able to sit upright, they may find that a fixed, non-reclining seat makes better use of available leg room, and is more comfortable for their unique needs.

This Whisper Ultra Quiet lift folds up easily into a single slim unit, for easy portability or storage. It can further be divided into two sections, for seniors who want even lighter, smaller pieces to carry or stow. 

Technical Specifications

  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Seat Dimensions: 13.7 inches wide (22 including wings)  x 16.54 inches deep
  • Seat Height Range: 2.3 inches – 18 inches
  • Max Recline Angle: 50 degrees
  • Portable: yes
  • Weight: 20.5 pounds

Pros

  • Reclines to a relaxing 50 degrees
  • Floating, simple hand control with bright, bold buttons for visibility
  • Padded seat and backrest
  • Lightweight and portable 

Cons

  • Like most reclining lifts, it only reclines once it’s in the lowest position in tub, so it may lack support for seniors who can’t sit upright at all

5. Drive Medical Bellavita Auto Bath Lifter

Great for Deep Bathtubs
Drive Medical 477200252 Bellavita Handicap Bath Lift Chair, White

Drive Medical Bellavita Auto Bath Lifter

Bath lift with high seat height range, making it great for deep tubs

About: The Drive Medical Bellavita Bath Lift is truly optimized for a relaxing soak in a deep tub. Its seat height range is among the best available, so it can clear high walls on most deep model tubs, yet can still lower almost all the way to the bathtub floor. Seniors who like to submerge themselves in a warm bath as deeply as possible love the Bellavita bath lift!

Features:

  • Excellent seat height range optimizes submersion
  • Reclines to a full 50 degrees
  • Hygienic cut out and washable cover included
  • Lightweight, slim design for easy portability and storage
  • Quick and easy to recharge

The Bellavita reclines all the way back to a full 50 degrees for a relaxing bathing experience. The seat and backrest is padded and an optional headrest is also available, for seniors who appreciate the extra neck support. 

The Bellavita’s hand control features four brightly-colored buttons which allows for easy operation, even by seniors with macular degeneration or other forms of vision impairment. 

The Bellavita features a hygienic cutout, which makes it easier to wash areas that can be hard to access when sitting. This lift also comes with a washable cover.

The quick-charge battery is very easy to handle: simply unplug from the lift and plug into any outlet. 

The Bellavita’s slim profile and fold-away design make it highly portable, and easy to handle, move or store.

Technical Specifications

  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Seat Dimensions: 16.5 inches deep x 13.7 inches wide
  • Seat Height Range: 2.3 inches – 18.8 inches
  • Max Recline Angle: 50 degrees
  • Portable: yes
  • Weight: 20.5 pounds

Pros

  • Accommodates most deep bathtubs 
  • Slim and easy to handle
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Relaxing 50 degree recline angle
  • Hygienic cutout and washable cover

Cons

  • Reclining seat bath lifts may leave longer legs cramped; taller seniors may prefer to opt for a fixed seat to maximize leg room

6. Tranquilo Premium Electric Bath Lift

Best Bariatric Bath Lift
Tranquilo Premium Electric Bath Lift with Padded, SAFESWIVEL Rotating SEAT and Electric Recline. 300lb. Lifting Capacity and Extra High Lifting Range up to 21.5 inches.

Tranquilo Premium Electric Bath Lift

Swivel chair with extra thick seat padding and can support seniors weighing up to 400 pounds

About: The Tranquilo Premium Electric Bath Lift supports seniors weighing up to 400 pounds, more than any other lift in the lineup. However, the Tranquilo is much more than just a basic bariatric bath lift. It was designed by front-line health care professionals, so it’s chock-full of helpful functional features that really make this bath lift stand out – and all at an unexpectedly low price point.

Features:

  • Swiveling, reclining seat
  • Extra thick seat padding for comfort
  • Extra high weight capacity of 400 pounds
  • Extra high lifting range of 21.5 inches
  • High-contrast, wall-mountable hand control

The Tranquilo lift’s swiveling seat makes it much easier for seniors to get in and out of the seat safely, reducing the risk of slipping or tearing fragile skin during transfers.

The extra-thick padding on the seat provides an extra comfortable sitting surface. The padding, along with the entire lift, is purposefully designed to be sanitized efficiently and durable enough to stand up to frequent cleanings.

The bold blue color offers a high-contrast design for seniors with fading eyesight, making it easier for them to locate the seat and sit safely. 

The simple, intuitive hand control is easy to use for seniors with poor eyesight, dexterity or other challenges. The hand control features a unique suction cup design, which allows it to be mounted at any convenient location on the bathtub wall.

The Tranquilo supports seniors weighing up to 400 pounds, with additional stability thanks to its six-cup suction base.

The Tranquilo lift features an impressive lift height of 21.5 inches – by far one of the highest available. This means it can work with almost any bathtub, even deep tubs with tall walls. The Tranquilo can also lower the seat to a mere 2.5 inches above the tub floor, which maximizes water depth for a satisfying soak.

The Tranquilo lift’s battery is located in its hand control and it couldn’t be more convenient to charge: simply unplug it from the lift and plug it into an outlet.

The 35-pound Tranquilo may be a bit heavy for frail seniors to transport unassisted, but many adults would find it to be easy to move – especially because it comes with integrated carry handles.

Technical Specifications

  • Weight Capacity: 400 pounds
  • Seat Dimensions: 14 inches wide (28.5 with flaps) x 26 inches deep
  • Seat Height Range: 2.5 – 21.5 inches
  • Max Recline Angle: 50 degrees
  • Portable: semi-portable
  • Weight: 35 pounds

Pros

  • Extra high weight capacity of 400 pounds
  • Extra high lift range of 21.5 inches
  • Padded, swiveling seat for comfortable, easy transfers
  • Reclining seat

Cons

  • Long-legged seniors may feel a bit cramped in a reclining seat
  • May be a bit heavy for seniors with reduced strength to transport unassisted

7. LiveFine Ultra Quiet Bath Lift

Best Budget Electric Bath Lift
LiveFine Ultra Quiet Bath Lift, Steel Pole for Extra Safety, Automatic Bath Tub Transfer Seat & 50° Reclining Support, Cushion Headrest, Nonslip Suction Pads, Waterproof Remote, Foldable Design

LiveFine Ultra Quiet Bath Lift

A budget-friendly electric bath lift with added neck support and high contrast colors for the visually impaired

About: Although the LiveFine Ultra Quiet Bath Lift is one of the most economical bath lifts available, it sacrifices nothing in terms of features or quality. This lift includes all the major features most seniors look for in a bath lift – and a budget friendly price tag.

Features:

  • High contrast design for seniors with visual impairment
  • Padded seat and backrest
  • Removable headrest for neck support
  • Steel pole for sturdy stability
  • Lightweight and portable

With its padded seat, backrest and removable head pillow, this LiveFine lift offers a luxuriously comfortable bath experience.

Featuring a strong steel pole core for extra support and stability, the LiveFine is FDA approved for individuals weighing up to 286.6 pounds.

The LiveFine offers high-contrast seating and controls for enhanced visibility, so seniors with poor eyesight due to conditions like macular degeneration, strokes or dementia can easily find the seat and controls. 

The ergonomically-designed hand control can float or be hung from a hook so that it’s always right where it’s needed. 

The hand control houses the quick-charge battery, and plugging it into an outlet to recharge is easy.

The LiveFine bath lift is designed for easy transportation and compact storage. Its slim silhouette and foldable backrest allow it to slip easily into the closet or beneath a bed.

At 26.2 pounds, many seniors can easily handle the folded LiveFine as a single unit, but those who prefer smaller, lighter portions can quickly break it into two smaller halves. Whether in one piece or two, it’s easy to tote this lift where you need to thanks to its integrated carrying handles. 

Technical Specifications

  • Weight Capacity: 286.6 pounds
  • Seat Dimensions: 28.5 inches (including flap) x 16.5 inches deep
  • Seat Height Range: 2.3 – 18 inches
  • Max Recline Angle: 50 degrees
  • Portable: yes
  • Weight: 26.2 pounds

Pros

  • Portable
  • High contrast colors for the visually impaired
  • Padded seat, backrest and detachable neck support
  • Economical price point

Cons

  • Seniors with longer legs may feel a bit cramped

When are Bath Lifts Helpful for Elderly Seniors?

Bath lifts make all the difference for seniors who appreciate a good bath, but aren’t able to get in and out of the tub easily or safely due to pain or conditions that affect their strength, mobility, or balance. 

Just a few conditions that make bathing difficult or dangerous can include:

  • Arthritis
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Fatigue
  • History of Strokes or TIA’s
  • History of falling
  • Painful feet, knees, hips or back
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Poor balance
  • Poor vision
  • Surgery
  • Vertigo, lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Weakness

There are many other conditions that make it difficult and uncomfortable to get in and out of the tub. Ironically, many of these conditions are the same that derive such great benefit out of a soothing bath! 

Benefits of Bathing

Soaking in a warm bath can be great for: 

  • Soothing sore muscles and achy joints
  • Increasing circulation
  • Improving heart health
  • Relaxation
  • Reducing inflammation and pain
  • Improving immune function
  • Calming the nervous system, reducing stress and anxiety
  • Breathing easier
  • Improving mood
  • Promoting good hygiene
  • Promoting sound sleep
  • Reducing the risk of pressure ulcers, bedsores and infections

Benefits of a Bath Lift

Basically, a bath lift can enable a senior to access the bath, and reap all the benefits of bathing! Additional benefits of bath lifts can include:

  • Independence: In many cases, a bath lift means that a senior can bathe independently, preserving their priceless privacy and dignity. 
  • Caregiver Safety: If a senior needs assistance from a caregiver or family member, a bath lift makes it much safer for both. A caregiver who must bend, reach, strain and lift at awkward angles is at high risk for muscle strains and injuries.
  • Reduced Risk of Falling: Getting in and out of the tub is dangerous. The warm humid bathroom air, hard, slippery surfaces, and lifting one leg at a time to step over a high bathtub wall is a recipe for disaster, and contributes to the extreme danger of falls and injury in the bathroom.  

For many seniors, bathing is a great way to relieve pain and promote wellness. Bath lifts can help conserve energy while bathing, and reduce or eliminate the physical strain, discomfort, difficulty, and dangers of bathing.

Bath lifts are a much quicker, easier and cheaper solution than a full bathroom renovation, enabling the senior to bathe safely in their existing tub.

Bath Lift versus Walk-in Tubs

Some seniors consider renovating their bathroom with a walk-in tub. Walk-in tubs can be a great solution for some seniors, but they tend to be aggressively marketed, and sold to seniors who don’t realize what they’re signing up for. 

Walk-in tubs come with a number of drawbacks in addition to their hefty price tag and expensive installation costs. Walk-in tubs can be slow to fill (while the senior is waiting, shivering, inside the tub), and when full, cover only the senior’s lower body. 

Because seniors need to be able to step up into the tub, and maneuver around into the seat, they are not appropriate for most older adults with moderate to severe mobility challenges. Additionally, the high walls make it awkward and cumbersome for caregivers to assist with bathing.

Furthermore, the majority of walk-in tubs feature inward-swinging doors so the water pressure holds them held tight to prevent leaking. However, the water pressure exerts such outward force that it’s impossible to open the door when the tub is full. 

This presents a real danger if the senior falls or experiences a medical emergency as there is no way to open the door quickly from the outside. Seniors have also become stuck inside these tubs when their drain malfunctioned or they lacked the hand strength or dexterity to operate the drain control.

It’s good to know that there are excellent alternatives to walk-in tubs, expensive bathroom renovations or foregoing bath time altogether: bath lifts!

How Do Bath Lifts Work?

Most bath lifts work by providing a seat at the rim of the tub. The senior needs to step into the tub and then sit down on the seat, or – depending on the particular lift – sit on the seat from outside the tub, and then swivel to face forward. They need to lift their own legs over the rim of the tub independently, or with minimal assistance. This can be where bathtub safety rails come in handy for seniors with balance issues!

Once they are safely seated, the lift will lower the senior down into the tub. They can’t usually get completely flush with the floor of the tub, but the lower it can get, the deeper the senior can submerge in the bathwater.

Once the bath is over, the lift raises the senior back up, so they can safely get out of the tub.

Bath lifts are a wonderful way for seniors with weakness, dizziness, pain or mobility impairments to access their existing bathtub safely, and to get up without straining or endangering their well being.

How Are Bath Lifts Installed?

Bath lifts are generally easy to install, often attaching to the bottom of the bathtub with suction cups. Most are then easy to remove when not needed (although some are heavier and bulkier than others). Most don’t require tools to assemble.

Note that for the suction cups to adhere securely to the tub, the bottom of the tub must be completely flat. Watch the size of the lift’s base to be sure it fits completely on the flat portion of the tub’s bottom, as any slope will interfere with the lift’s stability. Likewise, textured surfaces on the tub’s bottom will cause the suction cups to slip unsafely.

If your tub’s bottom is too small, sloped or textured to use a suction-based bath lift, you may consider using an inflatable lift, or a ceiling or wall-mounted one instead. 

Types of Bath Lifts

There are a number of different types of bath lifts available for different circumstances. 

Ceiling or Wall-Mounted Bath Lifts

Ceiling or wall-mounted bath lifts can be used when a tub is too textured, or its size doesn’t lend itself to the use of a battery-powered bath chair lift. 

However, ceiling and wall-mounted lifts are much more expensive and difficult to install, generally requiring a contractor or skilled handyman to do the work. They usually end up costing thousands of dollars in purchase price and installation costs.

Inflatable Bath Lifts

A less expensive alternative for a tub that won’t accommodate suction feet is an inflatable bath lift. Inflatable bath lifts couldn’t be easier to install or move! Simply set it into the bath, and then inflate with an electric pump. Once the senior sits on the seat, it deflates and lowers them into the tub. Reinflate the seat to then get out.  

Inflatable bath lifts have the advantage of becoming almost completely flat when deflated, meaning that they take up essentially no valuable soaking space, which is better for deeper immersion in the tub. 

However, inflatable bath lifts don’t raise very high. Additionally, the air-filled seat is soft and flexible, and usually has nothing to hold onto. They can be difficult or dangers for large or tall seniors – or those with bad knees or poor balance – to rise from.

Bath Hoists

Bath hoists are not technically considered lifts, because they raise the senior’s body from above, rather than below. Like lifts, bath hoists can be either motorized or manually operated, and are available in a variety of styles. Some hoists mount to the floor or ceiling, and others are mobile.

Bath hoists are more expensive than lifts, but are a necessity if the senior’s mobility is too severely impaired to raise their legs over the side of the tub with minimal assistance, or to sit upright at all.

Manual Hand Crank Lifts

Hand cranks don’t rely on electricity, so never need to be charged, however, they can be difficult to manage for seniors with conditions that limit their mobility or hand strength.

Electric Bath Lifts

Electric bath lifts utilize battery power to lift and lower the senior into the bath. These are popular because they are much easier for most seniors to operate than a hand crank. 

Electric lifts are typically controlled via a hand control wand, which is usually waterproof, and often is made to float, so that the senior isn’t left out of luck should they drop it. Some hand controls are designed to be hung from a hook or adhere to a shower wall for easy accessibility.

Electric lifts usually have battery safety features, which prevent them from lowering a senior into a tub if they lack the power to raise them out again safely. 

While typically safe and reliable, there is always a chance of failure in any mechanical device. It’s a good idea for seniors who are bathing alone to keep a phone (or other means of summoning help in an emergency) accessible during a bath.

What to Consider in a Bath Lift

As with most senior supportive equipment, there is a lot to consider when selecting a bath lift. While the cost is well worth it for most seniors to enjoy the pleasures and health benefits of bathing, it is a significant investment all the same, so it’s important to take the time to make the right choice – especially since bath lifts are frequently considered non-returnable items

Size and Fit with Existing Tub

Bath lifts are generally designed to fit most standard tubs, and may not work with tubs that are taller, smaller, wider or shaped differently than the norm. Measure carefully, taking particular note of the width and length of the tub’s interior.

Bathtub Width

Select the widest bath lift that will fit inside your tub for the sturdiest set up. 

Bathtub Height / Maximum Lift Range

The maximum lift range must be high enough to clear the top of the bathtub, or it won’t work. Measure the interior depth of the tub. A 17-18 inch maximum lift range is common among bath lifts, with about 23 inches being the highest available.

A higher seat is usually easier to rise from, so taller seniors, and those with weak, painful knees or difficulty standing, may also appreciate a higher maximum lift range.

Minimum Lift Range

The minimum lift range refers to the lowest position the seat can take in the tub. The lower this point, the more fully a senior can submerge in the water. 2.3 inches is around the lowest point usually available.

Seat Positions: Fixed Upright Seat versus Reclining

Seats that recline tend to take up more room than fixed position seats, which usually hug the back of the tub. Seniors with longer legs may find that sitting upright – but enjoying more legroom – is ultimately a more comfortable choice for them.

However, sitting upright can be tiring or uncomfortable for some seniors. If this is the case, it’s important to select a seat that can recline. 

In a reclining bath lift, the seat is usually upright when the senior gets into it. It doesn’t recline until it has been lowered all the way into the bath. It’s not a good option for a senior who can’t sit up at all, but it does offer a comfortable option for those who can sit up for a short time only, or who just like to kick back and relax in the tub.

The angle of recline varies by model, usually topping out at around 50 degrees.

Seniors with back pain often appreciate a reclining lift while seniors with longer legs may find that they prefer the fixed back lifts, which tend to sit further back in the tub and allow for more legroom.

Swivel Seating

Swivel seats rotate, which can help the senior get on or off the lift more easily, without twisting or straining their hips or back. This can also help protect fragile skin from tearing while turning on the seat. The senior sits down with their legs outside of the tub, and then swivels into the tub, lifting their legs over the tub wall. 

Seniors with fragile skin, lower body weakness, or pain in the lower back or hips may find swivel seating to be an especially valuable feature.

Pay attention to the size of the seat to ensure it offers ample width and depth for a supportive and comfortable experience.

Wings (Flaps)

Some lifts come with side flaps, or wings, which help seniors get on and off the seat safely. They allow the senior to sit down on the seat from the outside of the tub, and then carefully lift each leg over the wall. This eliminates the need to step into the tub. 

If the lift features wings, they should be wide enough to rest comfortably on the rim of the tub. Wings are usually designed to automatically fold upward as the seat is lowered into place.

Padding

Some bath lifts offer padded or soft mesh seating to enhance comfort and protect fragile skin. Look for durable, easy-to-clean medical-grade foam padding where possible.

Handset Control

Electric bath lifts are controlled via a handset. Check that controls are easy to see considering any visual impairment – high-contrast colors and large buttons can help – and easy to manage given any limitations to hand strength or dexterity.

Many electric lifts house the rechargeable batteries within the hand control. Some are easy to recharge by simply plugging them into an outlet.

Tub Bottom Texture and Size

Many bath lifts utilize suction cups to enhance stability. Suction cups rely on a completely smooth bathtub bottom surface for a good, secure grip. If the bathtub has a textured surface at all, it can interfere with the suction and sacrifice stability.

If the bath lift’s base is too large to fit on the flat part of the tub, it likewise can interfere with the suction and result in unsafe slipping. 

Pay attention to the size of the lift’s base, the size of the bottom of the tub, and any texture on the tub’s surface.

Portability

While many seniors opt to leave their bath lift set up in the tub at all times, others prefer to remove it when not in use. For some, this is a matter of aesthetics, while others just need a clear tub for other bathers in the house. Many seniors like taking their bath lift along while they are traveling, to be able to enjoy a relaxing bath on the go. 

Whatever the reason, if portability is an important feature for you, look for a light weight lift designed for this purpose. Portable lifts can often be easily folded or disassembled into one or two compact pieces that can be tucked into a suitcase, tossed in a trunk or stashed in a closet or under a bed.

Weight Capacity

Different bath lifts can support variable amounts of weight. Smaller lifts can generally lift around 240 pounds, while others can support up to 360 pounds. Seniors weighing more than this should look for a bariatric bath lift.

Not only is the lift itself in danger of breaking under excess weight, most lifts feature batteries that will refuse to lower a person into a tub if it doesn’t have enough power to also lift them out again. Exceeding the weight limit can result in unpredictable battery wear, which can leave the senior stranded in the bath – an uncomfortable, frightening, and unsafe experience! 

Selecting a bath lift that can safely support the full weight of the senior can make the difference in preventing a serious accident or injury. 

Will Medicare Pay for a Bath Lift?

Medicare may cover part of the cost of a bath lift under certain circumstances. Bath lifts are considered DME, or durable medical equipment, so they may be eligible for reimbursement of 80% of the Medicare-approved amount (after the Part B deductible is met). Additional requirements include:

  • The lift must be prescribed by the doctor to be considered “medically necessary”. 
  • The senior, their doctor, and bath lift supplier must all be enrolled in Medicare.

Talk with your doctor’s office, and the supplier ahead of time to ensure that they are enrolled in Medicare and accept assignment (which means they charge you only for the coinsurance and deductible).

Private insurance may cover some of the costs of durable medical equipment like bath lifts, so check your policy carefully, or talk with your insurance agent to ensure you understand your coverage.

Bath Lift Alternatives

Bath lifts are the perfect solution for elderly seniors who enjoy taking a bath and require some mobility assistance rising and sitting back in the tub. However, if the individual isn’t particularly devoted to baths, showers can be a better, easier option for some mobility-challenged seniors.

When it comes to showering safely, seniors can employ the use of a sturdy shower chair as well as a handheld showerhead and they should be good to go! While some seniors prefer baths, many others find that showers are just much easier when balance and mobility become an issue.

In Summary: Choose a Bath Lift That Matches Your Needs

After taking a close look at all the considerations, our conclusion is that the Tranquilo Premium Electric Bath Lift is the Overall Best Bath Lift for Seniors, and will meet the needs of most seniors very well. 

The Tranquilo’s extra high lift range will clear even very deep bathtubs. Its 50-degree recline and extra thick padding makes for a relaxing experience in the bath. Its swivel seat, high-contrast color and 400 pound weight capacity make it accessible for seniors with disabilities or poor eyesight – and its surprisingly reasonable price tag won’t break the bank!


Thanks for taking the time to read our review of the best bath lifts for the elderly. We’d love to hear about your experience with bath lifts, so please leave us a note in the comments below!

Last update on 2021-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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