When standing up in the shower or getting in and out of the bathtub becomes difficult or unsafe because of poor balance or a lack of physical strength, being able to sit on a shower chair or shower bench can often enable people to continue to take care of their own personal needs. And if you need the assistance of a caregiver, a bathroom safety seat can make bathing that much easier.
It’s important to note that a folding chair you might use when setting an extra place at the dining room table is not adequate for use in the tub. A shower chair or a shower bench is specifically made to be exposed to water and slippery surfaces. Shower seats are normally water-resistant and slip-resistant. An adjustable leg design allows you to customize a shower chair or shower bench to each user’s height. And whether it’s a shower stool or a chair, it should have sturdy, wide legs with no-slip grips on the ends (usually made of rubber). Legs are often made with rust-resistant or non-corrosive metal like aluminum, but might also be of the same molded plastic or PVC as the seat.
Shower chairs and showers benches are available in many styles and designs from the simplest three- or four-legged shower stool that can fit into a very narrow bathtub to a wheelchair or mobile shower chair made to be rolled right into a shower stall. A shower chair for handicapped users may also be made for use in aqua therapy; look for important details like a footrest, dual safety hand brakes, anti-tip design and easy-to-maneuver push handles.
The features you choose should match up with your specific needs and, because so many models are available, to your sense of style—and you might prefer teak to the popular plastic. The basics are sturdy legs and a wide enough seat. You can build from there— depending on your needs and comfort requirements, you might want to buy a shower chair with a back for added support, rather than just a shower stool, and possibly one with arms to help you maneuver up and down.
Extra features to look for include padding on the seat, back and armrests, a slot or compartment for toiletries and, because a shower bench used with a hand-held showerhead will make a seated bath a more enjoyable experience, a slot to rest the showerhead.
When choosing a shower chair or bench, it is important to match its features not only to the needs and abilities of the user, but also to the space available in the tub and the bathroom in general. If you’re buying a shower chair to use in a stall shower with a door closure, measure the space carefully to be sure the chair will fit inside it with the door fully closed. You might also need to consider the weight of the shower chair or shower bench itself if other family members will want to use the tub or shower without it in place.
No matter which of these products is the right one for you, look for a design that allows water to drain freely, so that it won’t pool in the seat and risk staining the material or creating other signs of wear. Another essential to check before you buy is the maximum weight the shower chair or bench can hold. If a user is over 250 pounds, look for a bariatric model; this can often accommodate up to 400 or more pounds.