Shower chairs keep seniors safe in the shower by providing a safe place to sit while bathing. This is especially important if you have limited mobility.
Instead of standing up for an entire shower, you can sit and relax while bathing instead of feeling anxious. You also won’t need to grip a handrail or hold onto the shower wall for security, either.
Shower chairs can be an important part of a safe shower plan for seniors and the elderly.
So, here is my list of the best shower chairs for seniors to use in the tub or shower. I’ve also included a buying guide of recommended features to help you shop.
Here are our top recommended shower chairs for seniors and the elderly. Keep reading to learn more about shopping for shower chairs and for more details.
Vive Swivel Shower Chair
Drive Premium Shower Chair
Buying Guide: What Shower Chair Features Do You Need?
When shopping for a bath seat or shower chair, it is important for you to know all your options. Here are the essential features and options that I recommend.
Shower chairs are made from all kinds of materials: wood, plastic, steel, and aluminum.
- Plastic is the most common option you will find. Plastic shower chairs are lightweight, inexpensive, and very durable. Plus, they also are waterproof and won’t rust or degrade. You can easily clean a plastic shower chair by wiping it down or rinsing it off after using it.
- Wood is becoming more popular lately. Many stylish wooden shower chairs are made of natural wood like teak and bamboo, which are water and rot-resistant. You will pay a little more for wooden shower chairs, though.
- Aluminum has decreased in popularity over the years as cheaper and better materials have evolved. Aluminum is water resistant and will not rust but takes more effort to clean. Soap scum may stick to it and require occasional cleaning with a spray cleaner and a rag.
- Steel was the first material used in shower chairs, but it is virtually non-existent today. Steel shower chairs are heavy and can damage tub and shower surfaces.
Adjustable Height Legs / Seat
To use a shower chair safely, you need to get on and off it easily. Adjustable shower chair legs are crucial because they raise and lower the seat based on your leg length. So, you can keep your feet on the floor while using it, which is always more stable and secure. Plus, the right seat height makes standing easier too!
While on the subject of legs, most of them have rubber tips, so you don’t have to worry about damaging your tub surface. Some even have suction cups on their feet to help them grip better.
Comfortable, Rounded Back
I always recommend shower chairs with backs because a back offers both support and protection from falling backward. Look for a back that is curved for comfort. Most shower chairs also have a handle built into the back to use when moving them.
Getting a shower chair with arms can help in a few different ways. First, armrests give you a place to hold on to when sitting down and standing up. Second, they also allow you to rest your arms while using the chair. Also, the arms reduce your chance of falling off the side.
Arms can cause problems if you need to get on the chair from its side. In this case, the arm would be in your way. That is one reason I recommend the Vive Health Swivel Chair as my top recommendation.
Look for arms that are adjustable or high enough to support your arms. Padded armrests are a nice bonus too!
What About a Padded Seat?
You can probably guess the benefit of a padded seat! These are primarily for comfort, of course. Think about the materials of a shower chair: plastic, wood, aluminum, etc. Do any of these sound particularly comfortable? Nope!
If you choose a padded shower chair seat, the best ones allow water to drain out easily.
It is important that shower seats have a way for all the water to drain off. Standing water causes mold and mildew. So, I recommend seats with drain holes, channels, or a sloped surface to ensure water drains away. This reduces the amount of cleaning needed too.
Know The Weight Limit
Many of these shower chairs are made of plastic, so paying attention to the weight limit is extremely important. Exceeding the weight capacity could result in a fall or accident.
It is important to know how much the shower chair itself weighs. This is especially true if the seat will be moved in and out of the tub because others share the bathroom, or you need a portable shower chair.
Shower chairs with wheels are just that. Think of them as waterproof wheelchairs, maybe.
Most of these have an aluminum frame with a plastic or mesh seat and back. The seats and backs are usually larger, too, so they offer more support for people who cannot sit up straight by themselves. I often recommend these to the elderly after strokes or those with neurological diseases like Parkinson’s or ALS.
They also have casters on each leg or even large wheelchair wheels on the back that allow them to roll around. With this type of shower chair, you can be wheeled in and out of showers like a wheelchair. Of course, you do need a roll-in type of shower with no tub or edge on it.
This type of shower chair is wonderful for people with severe disabilities who also need toileting help. Most look like a shower chair on wheels with a toilet seat on top and a middle hole.
They come with a removable toilet bucket mounted underneath. The advantage here is the user can take care of their toileting needs. Then, the bucket is removed and disposed of, and the person can be cleaned while right in the shower.
Another use for the commode opening is that it gives easy access to the perineum for complete cleaning.
Best Shower Chairs for Seniors and the Elderly
Here are my recommended bath chairs for older adults. These reviews are based on my own experience and professional expertise from working in the durable medical equipment industry for over 20 years.
1. Vive Health Swivel Shower Chair
- Height adjustable from 16 to 19 inches
- Seat size is 16 by 13 inches
- Width between the handles is 19 inches
- 300 lb weight capacity
The Vive Swivel Shower Chair is my top shower chair pick because it has every feature I recommend for safe shower chair use. It has a back and arms for support and security, adjustable height legs to fit, and the seat swivels to make it easier to use!
For a shower chair to be safe, it is essential that seniors and the elderly feel secure while using them. And this adjustable height shower chair from Vive has several features that address security and stability.
The unique feature of this chair is the swiveling seat. Because the seat rotates, you won’t have to step over your tub edge to sit in it. You can swivel it towards the tub edge and sit in it from the outside of the tub. Then, you just have to turn the seat back into the tub and lift your legs over the edge. This is a wonderful feature for people who have difficulty getting over the tub’s edge.
Other important security features include the tall, comfortable back and the padded armrests. The seat height is adjustable by raising or lowering the leg length – no tools are needed! That way, you can keep your feet safely on the tub floor. Or, you can raise the seat to a higher level so that it is easier to get out of.
Finally, to add to the chair’s stability, it has wide rubber feet that help anchor it and keep it from wobbling or scooting.
- Rotating seat for easier transfers
- Adjustable height legs
- Tall, padded armrests
- High, comfortable back
- Wide, stable feet
- More expensive than a traditional shower chair
The Drive Medical Adjustable Shower Chair was my top pick until Vive came out with their swivel shower chair. But, it’s still a fantastic choice if you don’t need the swiveling feature. It also has a larger seat and weight capacity for larger folks.
The biggest reason I highly recommend it is that it offers support and comfort. This is a hard balance to find with some medical equipment.
Both the seat and the back are wide, contoured, and comfortable. Because they are wider, even larger people will feel comfortable sitting in this chair. Plus, the Drive Medical shower chair even has a 350-pound weight capacity too.
The armrests have nice grips on the, but they are a bit short, and you may find yourself leaning over to make contact with them. But, they are tall enough to provide side support.
The legs have a long adjustment range so it will fit both shorter and taller seniors equally well. No tools are needed for these adjustments either!
- Larger, wider seat than most shower chairs
- Tall, wide, comfortable back
- Adjustable seat height
- Higher weight capacity
- Armrest are a bit short
- Height adjustable from 14 to 20 inches
- Seat size is 20 inches by 15.75 inches
- Width between the handles is 20 inches
- 300 lb weight capacity
This wooden shower chair is made of natural teak and addresses some of the issues that make teak shower chairs problematic for older adults.
Generally, I don’t recommend wooden shower chairs for seniors and elderly people. Yes, they look great! However, they lack some of the safety features that older adults need.
Because they are made of wood, adjustments aren’t usually available. They rarely have backs and arms on them. Wooden legs and seats are also slick on wet surfaces, so they move and shift more easily.
This shower bench, though, addresses some of these issues. First, by using metal legs, it iserves as an adjustable height bath bench and uses rubber feet to stabilize itself. But it still has that great wooden seat look.
While it doesn’t have arms or a back, the seat is curved on the edges so that you can feel it when you are near the edge. There are also handles to hold onto while sitting and standing. These handles (plus the fact it quickly disassembles) make it a great choice for someone needing a portable shower chair.
This one is a good choice for people who don’t need a lot of trunk support and who just need to sit while taking showers.
- Adjustable seat height
- Curved seat is comfortable
- Sealed wooden seat doesn’t need treating
- Wide rubber feet help it stay in place
- No back or arms for people who need more support
4. Carex Adjustable Height Bath Stool
- Height adjustable from 16 to 21 inches
- Seat size is 21 inches by 18 inches
- 400 lb weight capacity
This shower chair isn’t perfect, but it does have some great features for older adults, including a built-in shower head holder, and the seat height adjusts in infinite increments.
Do you need a smaller or more portable option? This compact and inexpensive shower chair is one of my favorites
To bathe with a shower safety seat, you need a good hand-held shower head too. And, this chair has a built-in place to put the shower head! This is important for both safety and convenience. After soaping up, you won’t need to bend over to get the shower head.
There are other things to love about it too.
This adjustable lightweight shower seat yet it accommodates people up to 400 pounds. The seat easily and quickly adjusts from 16 inches to 21 inches high. And, because it uses a screw mechanism, you can get just the right height for your needs. But, ensure the seat is level once it is set.
But, because the seat is small, the chair is lightweight and easy to move.
The only real negative of this pick for me is that there is no back support. But, there is a raised lip on the back edge of the seat. So, you will feel it when you are near the edge.
It’s not a great choice for more elderly or frail individuals but works well for more active older adults who might tire quickly while standing in place.
- Large seat area
- High weight capacity
- Built-in shower head holder
- Lightweight and portable
- Quickly disassembles for portability
- No back or armrests
5. Drive Medical Bathroom Shower Stool With Swivel Seat
- Height adjustable from 16 to 22 inches
- Seat size is 14 inches by 14 inches
- 300 lb weight capacity
Bath stools have their place, but they aren’t for everyone. They are highly portable and small enough to fit almost everywhere, but they don’t have the support some older people need.
If you have a small tub or shower, this shower stool is a good one.
First, the shower stool itself is only 15″ wide. But, it still fits a wide range of people because the seat height adjusts from 16″ to 22″ high. The weight capacity of 300 pounds is enough for most people too.
The Drive Medical shower bench also has the rotating seat option that I like on the Vive chair at the top of my list. It is padded, too – although I wouldn’t describe it as plush. But is better than a hard plastic seat.
But, I do have a few words of caution with this one.
It does not offer any support for the back, trunk, or arms. And the seating area is small because the overall dimensions are small.
So, you should consider this one only if you have good balance and can easily maintain an upright seated position. If not, you are at risk of falling off of the seat.
- Small, lightweight, and portable
- Rotating padded seat
- High seat adjustment range
- Lacks back and arm support
6. Drive Medical Bariatric Shower Chair
- Height adjustable from 14 to 19 inches
- Seat size is 20 inches by 12 inches
- 500 lb maximum weight capacity
Never risk using a shower chair whose weight capacity isn’t more than your weight. Thankfully, this bariatric shower chair holds up to 500 pounds safely.
This shower chair from Drive Medical is the best choice for heavier or larger people.
It has a very high weight capacity of 500 pounds! But, the chair itself only weighs 7.5 lb because of its lightweight aluminum and plastic construction.
The cross brace underneath it is riveted and reinforced. The seat is 20 inches wide, which is 2 to 5 inches wider than the others. So, even larger people will be comfortable sitting on it.
7. DMI Shower Transport Chair
- Seat height is 21 inches
- Seat size is 16 inches by 16 inches
- 250 pound weight capacity
I’ve had some requests to recommend a basic rolling shower chair. I like this one from DMI because it has a long track record of safety in the medical equipment industry.
Shower chairs with wheels, like this one, have several advantages.
They are mainly used by people who are wheelchair-bound. That way, you can be moved from outside to inside the shower by pushing the chair.
Of course, you would need a roll-in type of shower to use this type of shower chair. So if you have a shower with a lipped edge or a bathtub, this won’t work for you.
This model also doubles as a commode chair too. It can be wheeled over the toilet to make the seat taller or used outside the shower as well. The commode seat is padded for comfort.
This shower chair also offers a lot of support by having back and armrests. If you have had a stroke or a severe neurological disorder, you would benefit greatly from this style of shower chair.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Shower Chairs and Benches
How Do I Use A Shower Chair Safely?
There is a little bit more to using a shower chair than you think. Especially if safety is your concern.
Here is a video from a qualified therapist who walks you through using a shower chair.
Here are the key steps:
- Adjust the legs so that the seat is level
- Place the seat in the tub or shower
- Step over the tub edge, holding onto a grab bar.
- Back up towards the shower seat until you feel it on the back of your legs
- Sit slowly onto the shower seat.
NOTE: if you cannot safely step over the tub’s edge, you may want to consider a product like a tub transfer bench instead. A transfer bench allows you to get in and out of the tub without stepping over the edge. You can see my list of the best tub transfer benches here.
How Do I Make Sure a Bath Chair Will Fit In My Tub or Shower?
Measure the width of the tub at the bottom, not across the top.
Many tubs narrow towards the bottom to encourage water flow. So, ensuring the shower chair’s width is less than the width of the bottom of the tub will ensure it fits when you get it.
How Can I Make a Shower Chair More Comfortable While Taking a Shower?
Here is a great hack if your seat is not padded: place a few washcloths, a hand towel, or even a folded bath towel on the seat. This will add some cushioning without being concerned about it getting wet!
What’s the Difference Between a Shower Chair and a Transfer Bench?
The basic difference between a shower chair and a tub transfer bench is that a shower chair sits fully in the tub while a transfer bench straddles the tub wall. It sits both inside and outside the tub.
You need to step over the tub wall with a shower chair before sitting. But, with a tub transfer bench, you can sit outside the tub and then slide over into the tub area.
RELATED: Best Shower Grab Bars
Conclusions and Recommendations
Not everyone can afford to remodel or install a walk-in tub in their bathroom.
This makes shower chairs an important bathroom accessory for most seniors, along with shower heads and non-slip bath mats. They help you shower safely while maintaining your independence.
I hope I have given you all the information you need to choose the best shower chair for an elderly loved one in your life or for yourself.
If you have any questions for me or other suggestions to offer, please leave them in the comments below! Have you ever used any of the products above? Please share this article with your friends and family on your social channels with your comments! I’m sure they (and I) would love to hear your perspective.