Shower Chairs And The Elderly

In my opinion, shower chairs and the elderly go hand-in-hand. Even if you’re not considered “elderly” a fall in the shower or bathtub can be dangerous. In fact, just last week I slipped on a particularly slippery part of the shower and the first thing I thought of is “oh Lord, they’re going to find me naked”! 

Seriously, falling in the shower is far too common an occurrence and a big issue regarding home safety for seniors. In fact, according to a recent article in the New York Times, the most hazardous activities for all ages are bathing, showering and getting out of the tub or shower. Injuries in or near the bathtub or shower account for more than two-thirds of emergency room visits.

Also, according to the CDC, injury rates increase with age.  A whopping 80% of all injuries are associated with a fall.

Shower chairs are not just important for safety. They can also be a must-have for someone who is disabled and needs assistance in the shower, which was the case with my mom.


What Is A Shower Chair

Shower chairs are portable chairs (although some can be permanently installed) that can be taken in and out of the bathtub or shower. They give people a safe spot to sit while taking a shower. Shower chairs make it easier for people suffering from arthritis, bad back or those who are elderly and have limited mobility.

They are especially handy for caregivers who are assisting people with a bath or shower and make it much safer for both the caregiver and person being assisted.

Shower chairs are made from lightweight materials that are not damaged in water such as plastic and aluminum. They are easy to clean and dry quickly. They typically consist of plastic seat, aluminum legs and rubberized feet to keep them from slipping.

They come in a number of different styles and you can easily find one that fits your bath or shower. Let’s take a look at some of the different shower chairs available.

Different Types of Shower Chairs

Standard Shower Chair With or Without a Back

These chairs have four legs and look basically like a regular chair. Some of them have hand grips to make it easier to stand up and lower yourself down in the chair. You can also buy them with a back depending on the amount of support needed.

Price Range: $31.95-$92.11

Transfer Bench

If you are having difficulty getting into and out of the tub, this chair is for you. These chairs are longer than a typical shower chair. Two of the legs are placed inside the tub while the other two legs are place outside of the tub. This way you can easily sit down on the chair outside of the tub and slide across to the area inside of the tub to wash.

Price Range: $53.91 - $117.99

Folding Stool 

If you don’t have a lot of mobility or balance issues but just want to sit down while you shower, this chair might be a good option for you. This chair simply folds up and goes in the shower, providing a seat while bathing. There is neither a back nor any hand rails.

Price Range: $31.99 - $65.20

Fold Down Shower Chairs

If you require a lot of support and don’t want to haul the shower chair in and out of the shower, this could be a good option. These chairs are mounted inside of the shower. There are hand rails, a back and often another hand rail mounted in the shower for support.

Price Range: $61.89 - $119.00

Rolling Shower Chairs

These chairs have wheels and locking mechanisms. Many also have a flip up seat with the option of serving as a commode if need be. You often see these in skilled nursing or assisted living facilities.  

Price Range: $109.00 - $299.00

Standard Bedside Commode

Wait, what?  Yes, you can use the standard bedside commode in the shower as a chair. This is what I used when I was caring for my mom. It is particularly helpful if you are assisting someone who is disabled and can’t lift themself up to clean the under carriage. It worked out great for me and her. Just remove the toilet bucket which leaves an open area that allows the caregiver to attend to the personal area.

Price Range: $54.48 - $126.61

What to Consider When Choosing a Shower Chair

As you can see not all shower chairs are created equal and each person has different needs. These are the factors I consider when recommending a shower chair to a client, or anyone for that matter.

  • Can you adjust the height? The chair should be at a height where you can place your feet flat on the floor and have your knees bent at 90 degrees. I would recommend considering a chair where you can adjust the height as needed.
  • How is the seat made? Make sure the seat is comfortable for you and is a good fit. Does it have enough drainage holes to prevent water from pooling or building up? Is it easy to clean and keep clean?
  • How much weight does the seat hold? Most seats can hold a maximum of 250 pounds. Does the seat seem sturdy and have anti-slip properties? If you need a larger seat that holds more weight, be sure to shop around and inquire about weight capacity.
  • Will it fit in your tub? Take measurements of your tub and shower to make sure the chair is just the right size.


Does Insurance Cover Shower Chairs

While many nursing homes and assisted living facilities may provide shower chairs, they are typically not covered by Medicare if you live at home and are looking to purchase one. Medicare Part B defines Durable Medical Equipment as devices or items that must be used to meet a specific medical necessity, but shower chairs are not generally covered.

Medicaid coverage varies from state to state, so check the regulations where you live. Veterans’ benefits could also be an option. But, they also vary and need to be looked into in a case by case basis.

If you have any specific questions or comments, please leave them in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you quickly.  Thanks.

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