Do You Need a Shower Wheelchair?
A shower wheelchair is designed for elderly who use a wheelchair as their primary means of moving around and have an accessible shower.
Maybe there isn’t enough room to safely complete the transfer – whether they can’t get their wheelchair at the right angle or there isn’t anything to grab on to.
This type of wheelchair can be a great solution as it is easier to use than a shower bench or seat in the shower.
Elderly can undress in the bedroom, transfer into the shower wheelchair, cover themselves with a towel and roll into the bathroom to shower.
Overview of Shower Wheelchairs
A shower wheelchair is basically a waterproof wheelchair designed to get wet.
This opens up the option of using a transfer pole or lift to transfer into the shower chair in another room, which makes it safer and easier than trying to transfer onto a chair/bench in the bathroom.
Who Should Use a Shower Wheelchair?
Elderly that will benefit from using one will already use a wheelchair as their primary method of mobility and have an accessible shower.
Many models can also be used as a rolling commode so the elderly can also use it to roll over a toilet to go to the bathroom.
Do You Need a Commode Opening?
A commode opening is a cut out space in the seat that can be used to relieve yourself or wash your entire body while showering. Shower chairs are sold with solid seats or with the commode opening. Some even have seat plugs available so you can switch back and forth as needed.
- The seat cut out makes it easier to wash personal areas without having to stand
- Incontinence poses less of an issue
- The chair can double as a commode and is easily rolled over the toilet or the integrated pan can be used.
- Requires good sitting posture to avoid falling into opening
- Can make some people self-conscience
- Less comfortable than a full seat
Example: This Enshey Shower Commode Mobile Chair is a multi-use 3-in-1 commode/shower chair. It can be used anywhere as a standalone commode thanks to the included pail. It can also be used directly over a toilet for safer toileting or as a safe and comfortable shower chair. It weighs only 22 pounds and supports up to 330 pounds.
Recommended Features of a Shower Wheelchair
A good shower wheelchair will be:
Waterproof to ensure durability and that it dries quickly
Rust proof, ensuring long term durability
Lightweight, portable and easy to use
Compact – especially important for small showers
Other Good Features:
A commode option (see above)
This makes it possible to use the shower wheelchair as a portable rolling commode
Flip up or removable foot rests
These allow for safer transfers
If your elderly parent has poor upper body and trunk strength (difficulty maintaining an upright position in sitting), they will also likely need the tilt option.
Shower Wheelchair Accessories
There are a few accessories available:
A padded waterproof cushion for comfort and to protect skin
A commode design to allow for personal care
A head rest (used primarily for models with tilt/recline)
Tilt Example: EZee Life Tilt Shower Commode Wheelchair with Headrest
Waterproof calf support for elderly that need additional lower leg support
Finding the Right Fit for Your Shower Wheelchair
Fit is not as important as a light weight wheelchair as the senior will not be in it for as long. However, you want to get the best possible fit so that it’s comfortable and easy to use.
There are three basic measurements used in fitting:
- Hip width – This is used to determine the width of the seat
- Thigh length – This is used to determine the depth of the seat
- Knee to ground height – This is used to determine the seat height and leg rest length
- Back height – To determine back rest height
How to measure:
- Have the senior sit in a kitchen chair
- Measure hip width at widest part
- Measure from back of knee to lower back/bottom (keep measuring tape parallel to floor)
- Measure from back of knee to floor (have them wear their regular shoes)
- Measure from lower back/bottom to base of neck
Also, be sure to check the weight limit of the chair. Larger seniors will require a bariatric shower chair.
Example: This EZee Life Bariatric Shower Commode Wheelchair has a 22″ wide seat, large 5″ castor wheels, and can accommodate up to 425 lbs.
Using Your Shower Wheelchair
They are similar to using a regular light weight wheelchair.
Remember to put the brakes on when transferring in/out of the chair and when showering.
Example: This aluminum shower chair from Healthline Products has a padded seat, locking wheels, a commode pail and cover and a weight capacity of 300 lbs.
Bathroom wheelchairs (also known as shower wheelchairs) are designed to make hygiene maintenance easier for those who find it difficult or impossible to make it to the lavatory. These chairs typically feature an opening in the seat — to allow users to toilet themselves.
Because the bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in the house, especially for those with limited mobility, its certainly worth thinking about purchasing a shower commode chair for anyone with mobility issues.
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