Detailed Guide to Shower Chairs and Bath Benches
Shower chairs are designed to help make showering easier and safer. Showering can be difficult for many older people with a disability or chronic illness.
For people who have problems bending or standing for long periods, shower chairs can provide that extra bit of stability they need to remain independent.
Caregivers benefit from using a shower chair, too; shower chairs reduce the likelihood of caregiver injury and the need to physically support a person in the shower.
Used in conjunction with a shower hose, a person can safely shower with minimal assistance.
What Should You Look For in a Shower Chair?
Shower chairs range in size and style. The type of shower chair you choose will depend on a person’s health, capabilities and needs.
Shower chairs are designed to fit neatly in a shower recess. For use in a bath tub, a transfer bench may be a better option.
It’s important to measure your shower recess or bath before purchasing a shower chair as you may have problems if a shower seat is too wide. A shower chair’s legs should fit on the flat base of the bath without wobbling.
Some shower chairs can be neatly folded for storage, while others are lighter and more portable.
Below is a good example of a Foldable Bath Bench; its lightweight aluminum frame is resistant against corrosion. This seat has angled legs with suction tips for stability and safety, as well as side handles on the seat for added support. This seat folds for easy storage and travel. Weight capacity 200 lbs.
Shower chairs with comfortable backs can be ideal for the frail aged who need extra support. A padded seat can make the shower chair much more comfortable.
Armrests are also an important feature because they help with transfers and can provide added support and stability when standing.
This Lumex Platinum Collection Shower Chair has armrests and a comfortable, cushioned seat and backrest. The padding is water-tight and easy to clean. An answered question on Amazon claims it has a 300 lb weight capacity. The seat height is also adjustable, which can be set to make transfers on and off the chair as easy as possible.
As you’ve noticed, shower chairs have varying weight capacities, so ensure you know a persons’ weight before purchasing a shower chair.
Some people may require a special bariatric shower chair with a higher weight capacity.
This Drive Medical Premium Chair (below) is height-adjustable, comfortable, and can accommodate up to 350 lbs. This particular chair is Amazon’s #1 best seller in the category and has over 1,000 reviews with a 4.6 star rating.
Some shower chairs also function as wheelchairs and commodes, such as this MedMobile 2-in-1 Shower Wheelchair Commode. This chair (below) has drop-down armrests, detachable footrests, locking 5″ castors and a commode seat. The weight capacity is 250 lbs.
For some people having a seat inside the bath isn’t enough. You may need assistance getting over the side of the tub, whether you plan on using a handheld shower or sitting under your shower’s jets once inside.
In this case, consider a bath bench.
Bathtub transfer benches make “transferring” in and out of the bathtub safe, simple and comfortable.
Transfer benches make getting into the tub easier and safer, reducing the chances of a fall. Sliding across a transfer bench is much safer than stepping over the tub wall. The right transfer bench can increase the comfort, safety, and hygiene of the person you care for and – as a bonus – be back-friendly for you.
Despite being called a transfer bench for shower or bath, most styles are more like chairs, offering you the comfort of a wide seat and back for support.
Among the features to look for are:
- Comfortable cushioned seat and backrest
- Rustproof aluminum-frame construction for comfort and stability
- Height adjustable legs that adjust in 1-inch increments
- Back that easily adjusts or reverses to accommodate right or left transfers
- Built-in handles (usually in the backrest) to make positioning easier
- Extra large suction cups on legs to provide added safety
- Handheld shower holder
- Integrated soap tray
- Removable outside handle that helps you balance
- Non-slip finish on the seat
- Drain holes on the seat
- Bench with a weight capacity that secure accommodates your weight
- No-tool assembly if desired
With a transfer bench, you sit down at the end that is positioned outside of the tub, then swing your legs over the side of the tub and center yourself on the bench, eliminating the need to actually climb over to get in. Think of it as an extension of the typical shower chair.
The Drive Medical Transfer Bench has a convenient 3-position backrest, is height-adjustable and has a weight capacity of 400 lbs.
Helpful Video – how to safely use a bath tub transfer bench:
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