When Gary Mehalic was looking for a business to go into, he had only to look at his interest in helping seniors and combine it with his awareness of new options that were becoming available in bathtub design.

“I had senior friends who needed help in this area,” he said, referring to the need for safer bathing options. “I also had an elderly grandmother who needed help, and I saw how dangerous it was for her to safely bathe.”

Being an entrepreneur at heart, Mehalic had seen ads for walk-in bathtubs when they first came out. So, nine years ago he put these two ideas together and opened Bath Innovations Walk-In Bathtubs and Remodeling in Overland Park.

“Bathrooms have been proven to be one of the most dangerous areas of a home, especially for seniors,” he explained, adding that the danger of falls in the bathroom is increased by problems with balance, unsteadiness, side effects of modifications, poor eyesight, poor lighting, objects on the floor that increase the danger of tripping, and even something as simple as slipping on a wet spot on the floor. “It is estimated that one in three seniors over the age of 65 will fall this year,” Mehalic said, adding that one-fourth of all seniors who fracture a hip from a fall will die within six months of receiving the injury.

“This is a very important role we play in providing seniors with bathing safely in the comfort and privacy of their own home,” he said. Not only seniors, but also people with injuries or disabilities can benefit from the hydrotherapy that walk-in bathtub jets provide, promoting physical well-being and healing by relieving stress and the high blood pressure that may accompany it, increasing blood flow through the warm-water jets, and relieving pain and muscle tension. It also helps customers get a good night’s sleep.

“I have had clients with pain issues, such as arthritis and fibromyalgia find much relief with our hydrotherapy system,” Mehalic said. “Many people with chronic pain have difficulty getting a proper amount of sleep.”

This problem can be alleviated by using a walk-in bathtub at bedtime, he explained.

In addition, walk-in bathtubs can help seniors remain in their own homes, and Mehalic’s business also offers other kinds of home remodeling to help achieve this goal.

“This can be done by making needed modifications in areas of high risk, such as bathrooms and stairways,” he said, adding that remodeling can be much more cost-effective than moving to another place such as an assisted living facility.

Mehalic believes that customers should carefully consider all of their bathtub options before making a choice.

“I have had people make the remark at their first glance, ‘they’re all about the same, aren’t they?’” he said. “That could not be further than the truth.”

Some tubs are cheaply made, he explained, adding that he only carries the highest quality of tubs and that they include the following features:

  • One of the lowest step-ups (2 ½ inches) in the industry, making it easier for people who find it difficult to lift their feet.
  • There is a heavy-duty, dual-locking system, which ensures a very tight seal. Solid, no-leak, right- or left-hand oriented door.
  • The tubs come in eight different sizes, and custom colors are available.

Mehalic said that his business provides accurate estimates without a high-pressure sales pitch, and also promises high-quality, professional installation. Nationwide shipping is available as well.

“We try to treat people like family,” Mehalic said. “It’s gotten me a lot of business, actually.”

Treating customers like family comes naturally for Mehalic when it involves working with the senior population.

“They’re down-to-earth, they’re very transparent, and they are honest,” he said. “It is very pleasant to work with them.”

Mehalic can be reached at Bath Innovations Walk-In Bathtubs and Remodeling at 913-912-1750.

– By Bill David

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