For loved ones who have difficulty with transferring and/or supporting their own body weight for prolonged periods due to generalized weakness, pain, arthritis, or unsteadiness, they may rely on you to assist them with bathing. Especially if you are the only one assisting your loved one, you both run the risk of injury. Back strain and falls occur most frequently for caregivers and their loved ones during transfers, and these most often occur in the bathroom.
Even for persons with excellent mobility, the shower or tub can present a fall risk because of slick surfaces and a confined space. This is why non-slip adhesives are recommended inside the tub or shower and non-slip bath mats are recommended outside the tub or shower. However, for older adults with mobility, balance, or strength issues, more assistance is needed. Shower chairs increase comfort and safety, and can actually increase care efficiency and effectiveness.
Shower Chairs are intended to ease the physical demands associated with showering or bathing. They decrease fall risk associated with prolonged standing in the shower. They also elevate your loved one out of the tub so they are not sitting at ground-level. This makes it easier to enter and exit the bathing space. There are many types of shower chairs in a multitude of configurations.
SAFETY: When using a shower chair that sits across or in the tub, do not fill the tub more than one-third while the shower chair is in place, and be sure to drain the tub before your loved one rises from the shower chair.
Different Types of Shower Chairs
While some sit across the tub and use the tub sides for support, most sit on adjustable legs inside and on the floor of the tub or shower, and may or may not have backs.
Some sit both inside and outside the tub or shower, easing transfer in and out by scooting or sliding, and some actually turn/pivot.
Some have wheels for rolling in and out of the shower.
Some have cutouts for toileting and some have cushions for fragile skin.
Some can be bolted directly to the shower wall for permanent placement (and many flip up and lock when not in use).
SAFETY: Be sure to follow all manufacturer’s instructions regarding height/width adjustment and appropriate placement/installation of the shower chair.
Shower Chairs Can Help with Dementia
Furthermore, shower chairs are useful in comforting loved ones with dementia who may begin to fear and resist bathing. Shower chairs facilitate easier use of handheld showering devices, because the handheld moves and not the person. This is beneficial for our loved ones who no longer enjoy water raining on them from a shower head or being fully submerged in the tub. With a shower chair, the tub can be filled with a shallow amount of water, allowing them to soak their feet without submersion.