Bath chairs, benches and stools can be a safe and effective means of aiding with your personal hygiene not to mention maintaining your level of independence. There are many of you out there with mobility issues or who cannot stand and wash safely in the tub or shower. A shower chair, bench or stool solution might well indeed be the answer to those needs. Find out more below with bath chairs for the disabled and elderly-10 things to consider.
Bath chairs for the disabled and elderly-10 things to consider
There are several factors you need to consider in your selection criteria. Here are some points to consider:
Can you safely enter, exit and wash yourself in your existing tub or shower if you had a seated solution?
Many people can wash every part of themselves with relative ease but just can’t stand for the shower duration. This could be due to knee pain, back pain, recent surgery, general leg or arm strength, hip problems, a medical condition or the size of your body. If you answered “no” to any part of the question then a shower chair or bench may be a great solution for you.
Do you need the assistance of a caregiver or family member?
Some people may be able to wash parts of themselves, but may lack the mobility or agility to wash the harder to reach areas. This may require assistance from another person, such as a family member or caregiver. You will need to make sure your seating solution allows room for that person to move around you to help complete your bathing. Depending on the severity of your situation you may need a full roll-in shower wheelchair, wheelchair and commode combo, a recumbent chair or perhaps even a lift to move you in and out of the shower area with assistance.
Will you need to move your seating solution in and out of the tub or shower to accommodate others?
This can become a problem if you or other family members (or caregiver) are too weak to move your solution out of the tub or shower. Ideally it would be great if you could put your solution in place and not need to touch it again. Bath transfer benches are great for people sitting on the outside of the tub to be able to slowly move their legs and body across the bench into the tub, however they are large and heavy if you had to keep moving it in and out of your tub. The same issue may apply to smaller showers too. There are smaller lighter shower chairs, folding chairs and even pull-down benches that can be easily installed allowing for them to be easily tucked out of the way when not needed.
Is your current tub or shower suitable for a bath seating solution?
Many homes have older tubs that are concave meaning they have rounded sides and a smaller flatter bottom. The legs on some seating solutions may not sit flat inside your tub. This may be an accident waiting to happen! Make sure you measure the flat area of the tub (or shower) and the distance between the feet (not the legs as they can be smaller) on the bath seat to make sure it will solidly sit on your floor. Many seating solutions use angled legs in their frames and do not necessarily give you the dimension between the chair feet only the upper part of the leg frame. The suction cups on the feet of your seat need to firmly grip your tub or shower floor to avoid the seat sliding or flipping while getting up or sitting down.
Is your lower body wider than an average chair or is your weight an issue purchasing furniture?
If your lower body is larger than the top half you may need a chair or bench with an optional back to safely and comfortably accommodate your bathing needs. If you are bariatric you will not only need to consider your seating safety and comfort but choose a seat that can accommodate more than your current weight. Seats that use cross-bracing are specifically made for the heavier user and will usually support higher weight limits. There are many bath seating solutions for bariatric size people. Make sure you choose one that fits your needs.
Generally standard bath transfer seats, chairs and stools support people up to about 300 pounds. Bariatric bath seats start around 400 pounds and can go up to 1,000 pounds.
Can you sit on a bath seat but need assistance getting into the tub or shower?
Whether you are a bariatric or normal sized person there are seating solutions called transfer benches with some having movable bench seats. You position your body on the bench outside the tub, swivel your body around parallel with the tub, lift your legs into the tub and slide yourself along the seat inward to the tub to start your bathing. Some have locks or belts to keep people from sliding off the seat when in motion. They are a good solution for those who cannot readily slide or scoot into position or may be transferring from a walker to a seated position.
What if a regular bath chair, stool or bench won’t work for me?
Some people have very limited or no mobility but still need to be bathed. If getting to a toilet is difficult or impossible a caregiver may choose to employ a commode shower chair. This is a sturdy waterproof chair with an attached commode pan that can be wheeled in and out of the shower. This reduces the stress on a patient by accomplishing two tasks in one. Commode shower chairs come in regular and bariatric sizes.
There are also recumbent (reclining) chairs for patients who either cannot sit upright or need a caregiver to provide most of the bathing activities. For immobile or nearly immobile patients there are manual and electric sling options for moving patients in and out of a shower or custom tub area.
Are there other options than removable chairs, stools or benches?
Yes, there are shower or tub mounted benches that be folded up when not in use. This can be an easier and more elegant solution to removable products. However, it may not be feasible to drill the seat anchors into an existing shower or tub walls. You certainly would want to evaluate this solution in a new or remodeled bathroom situation.
What construction material is best?
This largely depends on who is using the seating. Smaller more mobile patients may be just fine with plastic and PVC pipe solutions. These are more desirable as they can be easily moved in and out of the tub or shower. For larger or less stable patients an aluminum frame would be more desired. It may also depend on if backrests or handrails are needed. Heavier aluminum chairs and benches will cost more but it may be necessary to ensure the safety and stability of your bathing solution.
Are there any other considerations when making a seating decision?
You will want to make sure whatever solution being considered meets ADA guidelines for accommodating the physically disabled. Review product information carefully to ensure the bath solution meets the stresses of safely supporting body weight in a wet environment.
There are options of a padded versus a thick hard plastic seat. Some seating solutions have height adjustable legs and reversible backrests and handrails. There are also purchasing options to consider. Many of these seating solutions are not generally covered by medical insurance, Medicare or Medicaid and may require an out of pocket purchase. You should check with your doctor or durable medical equipment (DME) department to see if any solutions are covered.
The bottom line for bath chairs for the disabled and elderly-10 things to consider…
As mentioned above there are a plethora of chairs, benches and stools to choose from for your shower needs. The worst thing you can do is not spend the time to evaluate your personal needs and comforts along with the tub or shower situation where you need to use it. If you are a larger person don’t choose a small stool even if it is rated at your weight if it is uncomfortable to use in your tub or shower. You need to account for shifts in your weight and body as you shower and if a handrail might make it safer than using a plain round stool. It’s your bath time. Make sure you are safe and comfortable in your choice!
In the long run a good bath seat can 1) save you a ton of money by reducing falls and trips in and out of the tub or shower resulting in hospital visits; 2) allow your caregivers a safer and easier way to help you bathe, 3) give your loved ones peace of mind knowing you have a safe, reliable and easy to use solution for accomplishing your routine tasks, and 4) further elevate your level of dependence.
We sincerely hope Bath chairs for the disabled and elderly: 10 things to consider has provided you essential information for choosing your next bath solution.
Bath Chairs and Benches for Standard and Bariatric Use
Standard bath chairs and benches usually support weights up to 300 pounds. Most fit standard size showers and bathtubs. Always measure your space, noting any lips or concave areas, before deciding on a seated solution.
Standard Bath Benches:
Standard Bath Chairs:
Bariatric bath chairs and benches usually support weights over 300 pounds. Many bariatric chairs and transfer benches will fit modern size showers and bathtubs. Always measure your space, noting any lips or concave areas, before deciding on a seated solution. This is especially important for the larger bariatric chairs and benches.
Bariatric Bath Benches:
Bariatric Bath Chairs:
Before reviewing bath seating products, please read out evaluation of bath seating products at:
To your improved health…
Bath and Shower Chair Selection and Use Video Instruction
Here are two videos on understanding differences between bath chairs and how to properly use a bath transfer seat.
My wife reached a point in her condition where she could no longer climb in and out of our tub nor use the tiny shower in our master bathroom to wash. She was forced to sponge bathe from the bathroom sink sitting on a stool for well over a year until we could redesign our master bathroom for her needs.
My wife is bariatric (plus sized) with the lower half of her body larger than her upper half. The severe case of Lipedema and Lymphedema in her lower body required careful consideration of bathroom layout and products to help her be as independent as possible. She chose to use a bariatric transfer bench for our shower so it was wide enough to comfortably sit and move around during bathing. It is rated about 100 pounds more than her size and is made with cross-bars on the leg frame for extra stability for larger persons. She chose not to use the back piece to make it easier to wash her back (or me on days she is not feeling well), but relies on the handrail for rising and sitting down. She also relies on two large grab bars for moving in and out of the shower as well as shower mount at chest level so she can easily manipulate the shower-head.
If you are interested in knowing what works for her as a shower solution, here is her product set:
Moen Nickel grab bars (18″ and 36″)
Command strips to hold long handled bath brush and bath scrub