Choose the Best Shower Chair for an Elderly Parent

Tom Dahm

August 28, 2023

Aging in place means helping seniors stay in their home and live happier lives.  But to keep your loved one safe and healthy, it’s important to walk through their home to ensure proper changes are made to support older bodies. Don’t skip choosing an appropriate shower chair, as this could prevent serious falls and injuries!

Anyone can be injured in a shower or bathtub fall, but these common home accidents  are particularly dangerous for seniors and people with disabilities. Both walk-in tubs and shower chairs help seniors avoid dangerous falls that could send them to the hospital or even long-term care if the injury is serious.

Although walk-in tubs can be quite luxurious, with water massage jets and other amenities, they’re costly and may require extensive bathroom modifications and Medicare generally does not pay for walk-in tubs. Shower chairs are generally not covered either, however, are portable, lightweight, and affordable. Prices range from $50 – $300.

Here is a list of things to consider when you’re looking for the best shower chair for an elderly parent or for yourself.

Types of shower chairs and bath seats

Types of shower chairs and bath seats

The kind of chair you need depends on the person’s level of mobility and ability to handle self-care tasks like hair washing.

  • Shower stool: This backless shower chair looks like a regular low stool, but is made with non-slip surfaces. It provides a minimum level of support because there’s no back or side armrests. People who have trouble standing and sitting without assistance should probably choose another type of chair.
  • Shower chair with back: This looks like a regular chair, but provides more stability because of the arms and backrest.
  • Attached folding bath seat: These are physically attached to the shower wall, so they’re quite stable. This is a good option for small bathrooms/showers because it folds up when not in use. They are more costly though, and do require a minimal amount of installation.
  • Transfer bench: If your parent has problems safely stepping in and out of the tub, a transfer bench can help. They’re larger than a basic shower chair because straddle the side of the tub. Two legs of the transfer bench sit outside the tub and two inside. The person can sit down first and then slide into the tub while sitting on the transfer bench.
  • Rolling shower chair: This is a safe option for people with severe mobility issues because they can be rolled directly into the shower, stay in the chair while bathing, and then roll back out. If your parent also need help using the toilet, consider getting a rolling shower chair with a commode instead of purchasing both a shower chair and a raised toilet seat.

How to choose between shower chair options

Modifications That Increase Bathroom Safety

Once you know what type of shower chair you need, check the sizes offered and other options to make sure you get the best, safest shower chair for your parent.

  • Size: Tubs and shower sizes vary, so always take measurements before purchasing a shower chair or bath bench.
  • Height: Your relative’s feet should be securely on the floor when seated in an upright shower chair. Measure from the back of the heel to the crease between the knee. Check to make sure the shower chair will adjust to the height you need. Some manufacturers make chairs specially sized for very tall or short people.
  • Weight capacity: A standard shower chair will usually hold at least 250 pounds. Check the weight capacity before you buy. People with more body mass may need a bariatric chair.
  • Materials: Most shower chairs and stools are made of either plastic or aluminum – or a combination of both materials. All-plastic chairs tend to be lower-priced, but there is little functional difference between metal and plastic designs.
  • Reclining: A reclining shower chair is larger than a standard chair. They’re good options for people who have difficulty sitting upright or who need assistance with bathing.
  • Fixed or folding: Some shower chairs and stools will fold flat for storage, much like a lawn chair. That’s a good option if space is limited or if you travel frequently and need to take the chair with you.
  • Additional options: Shower chair options include side pockets for toiletries and a holder for a hand-held shower.

Shower chairs are just one part of bathroom safety for seniors

GetSafe Voice-Activated Mini Console

There are more safety hazards in the bathroom. Here are some other bathroom makeover ideas to improve safety for your senior relative:

  • Grab bars: Place them next to the toilet and shower. They must be attached to wall studs.
  • Wall-mounted help buttons: Voice-activated help buttons offer an additional layer of security because you can call for help even if you can’t reach the button.
  • Wearable medical alert button: A medical alert button with automatic fall detection will call for help even if you can’t.

Bay Alarm Medical specializes in medical alerts that you don’t have to wear. Place the standard or voice-activated wall buttons throughout your home. Help is literally just one call away! We also offer wearable medical alert buttons with fall detection. They’re a great option for active seniors who may experience a fall or other medical emergency outside the home.

Contact us at 1-877-522-9633 to learn more.

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