A critical part of keeping seniors safe is preventing slips and falls in the bathroom. According to the CDC, the risk of slips and falls increases dramatically after age 65. The bathroom is one of the most common areas of the house where dangerous falls can happen.
It is important for the elderly and their caretakers to know about the various bathroom aids that are available to help reduce this risk. Using senior shower chair drastically helps to prevent falls. But, there are a lot of options to consider when shopping for a shower chair, so it’s best to do your research before making a purchase. Luckily, I’ve done that for you!
Here are the best shower chairs for elderly people to consider along with my recommended options:
Recommended Bath Seats
These are my recommended bathroom chairs for elderly people who need help while bathing. The following reviews are based on my own experience and knowledge as someone who works in the durable medical equipment industry.
Drive Medical Premium Series Shower Chair
I like this shower chair from Drive Medical so much I that included it on my Top 10 Bathroom Aids list. It has everything I recommend when shopping for shower chairs.
The biggest reason I love this shower seat is that it offers both support and comfort for senior citizens, which is a hard balance to strike.
I love that it has both back and arm rests for maximum support. The legs are adjustable in height to allow the seat to be in just the right position for each senior’s individual needs. The seat is contoured and more comfortable than a straight seat too. It also drains well and it is very easy to clean and maintain.
This seat is very lightweight and simple to put together and take apart for transportation, so this is overall one of the best shower chairs for seniors.
AquaTeak 18" Asia Teak Shower Bench
$129.95 in stock
For seniors who do not need a lot of support and want to take high style into account instead, this teak wood shower bench may just fit the bill!
This has a high quality build and design, and looks great to boot. It has a small 12″ x 18″ footprint that will fit easily in most tubs and showers too.
However, I do have a few potential concerns. the first is that the seat is 18″ off of the floor, which works well for most people, but for elderly people who are shorter, say under 5 feet tall, they may have trouble getting into and out of this oseatne. It is not height adjustable either.
Also, teak wood does require occasional oiling to maintain it’s water repelling ability. Finally, it is a bit heavier than most of my other recommendations, so that might be another potential drawback for you.
Carex Universal Bath Seat and Shower Chair
$26.49 in stock
For one of the more inexpensive shower chairs, this is one of my favorites.
If you have read how important I think using the right handheld shower head is, then you may be able to guess why. This chair has a built-in place to put the shower head! This is great in terms of both convenience and safety. As a safety feature, it’s great because the elderly person won’t have to bend over or try to balance on one hand to get the shower head after soaping up.
There are other things to love about this shower chair too. It is very lightweight but also accommodates up to 400 pounds. The seat adjusts from 16 inches to 21 inches high. These features combine to make this a great shower bench for elderly people in a wide range of sizes and heights.
The only real negative for this pick for me is that there is no back support. Although, there is a raised lip on the back edge of the seat so the senior will know when they are at the edge.
Drive Medical Bath Stool With Padded Rotating Seat
If you are looking for a great option for a small tub or shower, this is a good one. It is only 15″ wide by 15″ tall. But, it will also hold a wide range of people because the seat height adjusts from 16″ to 23″ high. It even has a high weight capacity of 450 pounds, which blows most other choices here out of the water.
Another great advantage to this seat is that it is padded and it rotates. I want to be real with you, though, about this padding. It isn’t so thick and luxurious, but is better than a hard plastic seat. However, the rotation feature is nice and it’s very helpful with getting on and off of it. The user can sit down at the side of the tub and then rotate their feet into the tub while seated. This could reduce tripping over the tub edge, so for safety, this is a really important and useful feature.
A few words of caution with this one. It does not offer any support for the back, trunk, or arms. Also, the seat is kind of small at only 14 inches x 14 inches. It should only be used by elderly people who have good control over their upper bodies and good balance. If not, they will be at risk of falling off of the seat. I would only recommend this one for seniors who get tired standing in the shower mainly, not as a go-to tool.
The Original Kai 15.5" Corner Teak Shower Bench
$105.95 in stock
This is another stylish teak wood design that just looks great. Don’t forget though, that teak wood does require occasional maintenance to keep looking good and repelling water. Can I say it again? It’s a great looking shower chair!
It works well in shower stalls and small tubs because of its small footprint. Because it is wooden, though, it will be heavier than the plastic items and have a smaller weight capacity (250 lb) than others.
This corner shower chair does not offer any support for the trunk or upper body though. So, it should only be used for elderly people with good balance and upper body control.
It is recommended only for seniors who tire and need to sit while showering.
Drive Medical Bariatric Heavy Duty Bath Bench
$62.59 in stock
This shower chair from Drive Medical is the best choice for larger elderly people. It has a very high weight capacity of 500 pounds but only weighs 7.5 lb due to a 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 other shower chairs to fit larger people as well.
DMI Shower Transport Chair
Shower chairs with wheels, like this one, have several advantages. One of the most important is that the elderly person can be moved from outside of the shower 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 don’t, or you have a bathtub instead, this won’t work for you.
It also doubles as a commode chair too. It can be wheeled over the toilet or used outside the shower as well. The commode seat is padded for comfort.
This shower chair offers a lot of support too by having back and armrests. Elderly people who have had a stroke or severe neurological disorders would benefit greatly from this style of shower chair.
How to Use a Shower Chair
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 that walks you through the use of a shower chair step by step.
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 edge of the tub, you may want to consider a product like a tub transfer bench. These safety products allow you to get in and out of the tub without having to step over the edge.
Features to Look For
When shopping for bathtub chairs for the elderly, it is important to know all your options. Some features are key to having a safe shower chair while others are more about design and user choice.
Shower chairs are made from all kinds of materials: wood, plastic, steel, and aluminum.
- Plastic shower chairs are the most common option you will find. The best plastic shower chairs are lightweight, inexpensive and very durable. They also are waterproof and will not rust or degrade. Cleaning a plastic shower chair is as simple as rinsing off after using it.
- Wooden shower chairs are becoming more popular lately. There is a new trend in bathroom safety products towards more stylish options. Many people do not want bathroom equipment to look like medical equipment. Many stylish wooden shower chairs are made of teak, which is naturally water and rot-resistant. Teak has even been used in boat building since ancient times! You will pay a little more for wooden shower chairs though.
- Aluminum shower chairs have decreased in popularity over the years as cheaper materials have evolved. Some safety bath chairs for elderly use aluminum frames with plastic seats which increases their durability and they stay light in weight. Aluminum is water resistant and will not rust but may take a little more effort to clean. Soap scum may stick to it and require occasional cleaning with a spray cleaner and a rag.
- Steel shower chairs were the first shower chairs developed and are non-existent today. They were extremely durable but rusted and had to be cleaned frequently.
You will find many options for both styles: shower chairs with backs and shower chairs without backs. But, which style is the best? It depends on the abilities of the senior using it.
The purpose of a back on a shower chair is to support the bather from behind and keep them from falling backward. So, if the elderly person as any kind of balance issues or gets tired quickly and needs to rest frequently, they should get a chair with a back.
However, if they just mainly have leg weakness and cannot stand for long periods of time, a shower chair without a back could be the best choice. When buying bath safety equipment though, it is also important to think of the future. If the elderly person’s abilities will decrease over time, it may be best to go ahead and get one with a back up front. Some models have backs that can be put on later when needed.
Shower chairs come with and without arms on them. Arms help in a few different ways. First, arms give the elderly person somewhere to hold on to when getting up and down. They can help stabilize them and prevent a fall. They also give them somewhere to rest their arms if they need a break. Most arms on shower chairs are padded.
A shower chair with arms though can cause problems for elderly people who have to get on the chair from the side. In this case, the arm would be in the way and could keep them from sitting down safely.
You can probably guess the benefit of a padded seat! These are primarily for comfort of course. Think about the materials a shower chair is made of: plastic, wood, aluminum, etc. Do any of these sound particularly comfortable? Nope!
If you choose a shower chair with a padded seat, the best ones are the ones that allow water to drain out easily. If water builds up in or under the padding, mold or mildew could develop and need to be cleaned a lot.
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.!
Shower chairs with wheels are just that. They are usually an aluminum framed shower chair with a larger seat and casters on the bottoms of the legs. With this type of shower chair, the elderly person can be wheeled in and out of the shower kind of like a wheelchair. Of course, you would need a roll-in type of shower with no tub or edge on it.
Shower chairs with wheels are used a lot by the severely disabled. Because the seats are larger, they offer more support for people who are unable to sit up straight by themselves. I have seen these also used with the elderly after strokes or with neurological diseases like Parkinson’s or ALS.
Toilet Commode Openings
This type of shower chair is also large in size and is used with a roll-in shower. These are also used more with people with severe disabilities who also need toileting help. Most look like a shower chair on wheels with a toilet seat on top with the hole in the middle.
These come with a 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. Shower chairs with wheels and commode openings are best for people who are greatly disabled.
Other Important Shower Chair Features:
It is important that the shower chair has a way for all the water to drain off. Standing water causes mold and mildew. So, I recommend seats with drain holes to make sure water drains off. This reduces the amount of cleaning needed.
Adjustable height legs
The safest shower chair for elderly people is one that is easy to get in and out of. This reduces the chance of a fall. Shower chairs with adjustable height legs help by making the seat taller or shorter based on the leg length of the user. This makes it easier for them to stand while sitting in it and also makes sitting in it easier too.
Make sure you know an accurate weight of the elderly person who will use the shower chair. Many of these shower chairs are made of plastic so it is extremely important that weight limits be followed. Exceeding the weight capacity could result in a fall or accident.
Weight of the shower chair
It is important to know how much the shower chair itself weighs. This is especially true if the shower chair will be moved in and out of the tub because it is used by other people in the home. Choose a bathing seat that is lightweight to reduce back and arm strain if it must be moved frequently or carried. A lightweight shower chair is also a great thing if the chair will be taken on a trip or for traveling.
Size of the shower chair
Measure the width of the tub AT THE BOTTOM, not across the top. Many tubs narrow towards the bottom to encourage water flow. Shower chairs tend to get wider at the bottom for stability. So making sure the width of the shower chair is less than the width of the bottom of the tub will ensure it fits when you get it.
I will bet you had no idea there were was so much to consider when shopping for shower chairs! Hopefully, this was helpful and you made a few mental notes.
Bath Safety Tips for Seniors
There are a few simple tips to keep in mind when thinking about bathroom safety for seniors. They’re simple adjustments, but they can make a world of difference in a senior’s quality of life.
Make sure that everything the senior needs is in reach. This means a close by toilet paper holder, soaps and shampoos all within reach in the shower, and no extra shelving or products lying around.
A well-lit area is also an extremely important element of a safe bathroom for seniors. Make sure there’s plenty of overhead and eye-level lighting, as well as motion-activated night lights to make sure the senior can see clearly what they’re doing and where they’re going.
Reduce Risk of Injury
As the bathroom is one of the most common areas of potential falls and injuries for seniors, it’s important to install as many safety measures as possible. These include grab handles all over, seats in the shower, anti-slip measures like secure carpets, rubber mats, or anti-slip decals in the tub.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Not everyone can afford to remodel or to install a walk in tub in their bathroom. This makes shower chairs are a very important bathroom safety product along with shower heads and bath mats. They can enable an elderly person to still bathe themselves while preventing falls. I hope I have given you all the information you need to choose the best shower chair for the elderly loved one in your life or for yourself.
If you have any questions for me or other suggestions to offer, please leave them below in the comments! 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.