As people age, showering can become exhausting. The same is true for those who are recovering from surgery or dealing with chronic illnesses. Standing for long periods while showering might not be an option for everyone, especially for our elderly loved ones. It is because they are prone to slipping and falling while taking a shower. That is why a lot of people are making their bathrooms safer for the elderly, such as installing grab bars and placing skid-free mats. But aside from those things, other useful items that may help prevent the risk of falling when showering are shower stools and chairs.
The use of shower stools and chairs can make showering for people with mobility challenges safer. These may also allow them to maintain dignity and independence while bathing themselves by giving them a stable and secure in-shower platform to sit on and bathe without the fear of slipping or falling in the shower. If you are looking into purchasing a shower stool or chair for yourself or your loved one, you’re in the right place. In this post, we are giving you a guide to buying shower stools and chairs.
Difference Between Shower Stools and Shower Chairs
Before we discuss the factors and considerations that you need to take when buying shower stools and chairs, let us first understand what they are and their differences. Generally, shower chairs are chairs that have four legs and feature armrests and a backrest. The legs also have rubber suction feet that offer a secure grip and prevent slipping and sliding. The seats also provide support while the user bathes or showers, which counteracts mobility limitations effectively.
Shower stools, on the other hand, are simple and more basic in design. Often, they are just four-legged molded-plastic seats that do not have armrests or back support. They are used to prevent weariness and body aches that come from standing upright for a long period. Shower stools are only suitable for seniors who can still stand comfortably and do not suffer from any balance-related issues.
To further understand their differences, below are some other factors wherein shower stools and chairs differ:
When you take a look at the price of shower stools and chairs, you will notice that shower stools are far more affordable. It’s because they do not cost much to produce, and they are designed to sell at a scale for various mobility types. Shower chairs, on the other hand, are more expensive. Most of the time, they are acquired through a distributor, professional medical referral, or the health system.
Most shower stools are made using low-quality plastic and metal, whose basic function is to be easy to clean and dry. On the flip side, shower chairs are mostly designed for user comfort using long-lasting materials. Good-quality shower chairs are often made from medical-grade aluminum, stainless steel, and other proven materials.
The issue with shower stools is that anyone who struggles to get in and out of the shower will not benefit from them. They are useful for those who experience fatigue while showering and need a seat. However, anyone with a notable disability would not possibly benefit from mass-produced shower stools.
There are shower chairs and shower chair systems that feature multiple functions to support the user’s safe bathing or showering. They can accommodate the user in moving around the bathroom, using the toilet, and taking a bath.
Benefits of Using Shower Seats
Shower stools and chairs are designed to be used in the shower to assist seniors with getting in and out of the shower or bathtub. They can sit on them safely as they wash, shave, or take a break from the task of standing up when taking a bath. It also provides them greater security and peace of mind by allowing them to feel more comfortable while showering. Shower seats are especially beneficial for people who have limited mobility as they may remain seated while bathing. Below are the different benefits of shower seats:
Reduced Risk of Falling and Injury
When seniors use shower seats like a stool or chair, it helps them reduce the chance of falling, avoiding serious injuries like broken bones or head trauma. They can make showering a safer experience for people who have mobility limitations without thinking that they might slip and fall while getting in and out of the shower or tub. This makes shower chairs perfect for people who are recovering from injury, living with a permanent disability, and for seniors who have difficulty navigating in the shower without assistance.
Some seniors refuse showers or baths out of fear that they may slip and fall in the bathroom, especially if they have fallen once already in the past. If their fear goes on long enough, their hygiene may suffer, which may lead to infections and skin issues. Poor hygiene may also lead to serious illnesses like staphylococcus aureus infections and urinary tract infections. But through the use of shower stools and chairs, seniors may be encouraged to take a more active role in their own personal hygiene. These seats can make them feel safer and more capable of taking a bath or showering themselves.
Many seniors are fiercely independent and refuse help in the bath or shower. They do not like to feel that they can’t handle even the most basic daily hygiene tasks by themselves and having to feel exposed even to a family member is not preferred. One of the biggest benefits of shower seats for seniors is that they help them take care of their own needs without much help from other people.
Shower stools and chairs may help increase the confidence of seniors, and they are also encouraged to remain independent while maintaining the alone time that a lot of us enjoy during a good bath. Aging with confidence and maintaining as much independence is very important as these can make seniors feel happier.
Better Access to Therapeutic Showers
When a senior experiences chronic pain, arthritis, or swelling, a warm bath or shower is among the recommendations of gerontologists. It’s because warm to hot water is soothing, and it also encourages lymph drainage, better circulation, and swelling reduction. However, when the senior fears getting into the tub, it leaves him virtually unable to enjoy a therapeutic shower at home without significant stress.
But with the use of shower chairs, seniors can be encouraged to use the shower as an essential part of an overall treatment program. During bad days when the pain levels are high, they can step into the tub safely and remain seated under the water without much help from others. It helps them make on-the-spot decisions about their health, which may also help reduce the need for medications.
Portable Bathroom Safety
Shower seats come in many forms, such as small stools and large chairs. There are also some that feature a swivel board for getting into and out of the tub easier. But others are portable enough to fold down and take with you when traveling. They are very useful for seniors who often travel. A lot of portable shower stools fold down flat and can be stashed in a trunk or even in a suitcase. With this, seniors can ensure that they are safe when using bathrooms anywhere they go.
Things to Consider When Buying Shower Stools and Chairs
If you are going to buy a shower stool or chair for the first time, it might make you wonder how you should go about it. When you go to stores or search online, there are indeed a lot of options when it comes to shower stools and chairs, which makes the task of choosing the best one quite challenging. If you feel the same way, we are happy to help you. Below are some of the important things that you need to consider when buying shower stools and chairs:
The first thing that you need to consider when choosing a shower stool or chair is the size. You need to ensure that the chair is big enough to support your senior loved one but small enough to fit inside your shower or bathtub. In order to find a shower seat with the correct dimensions, it is ideal to measure the width of your tub or the width and depth of your shower floor. Then, pick a shower chair that is smaller than these measurements to fit it inside safely and easily.
You should also pay attention to the size of the seat in order to find one that your loved one can sit safely and comfortably on. To get the proper size, measure the backside width of the user when sitting on a flat surface. The seat of the chair needs to be wider than the measurement that you will get so that the user will be able to sit securely on the chair without the risk of sliding or falling off.
It is important to check the weight capacity of the chair you are going to buy. It should be able to support the weight of your loved one safely. Most shower seats are able to support around 250 to 400 pounds, depending on the model. If more support is needed, choosing a bariatric shower chair might be preferable.
A lot of shower chairs come with height-adjustable legs. But make sure that you confirm it before buying one. It is better to choose chairs that are height-adjustable as you can customize them to the most comfortable level. It allows seniors to sit comfortably without straining their joints or plopping down.
Since the seat is going to be used in the shower or bathtub, you need to choose one that is made of materials that can withstand regular exposure to water. Some of the best options are seats made of rust-resistant materials like plastic, aluminum, or steel. Chairs made of plastic are widely available, but for a sturdier option, try to find one that has a plastic seat and aluminum or steel legs. It is also best to pick a shower chair that has drain holes in the seat to prevent water buildup.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, shower stools and chairs are different from one another. Therefore, you need to choose which of them will suit your loved one better. Stools are more compact but are narrower and do not offer backrests, which can be uncomfortable for some and less safe to sit on. Shower chairs, on the other hand, usually offer a wider space to sit on and may either come with or without a backrest.
Suction Feet vs. Padded Feet
Since shower seats are mostly placed on a wet surface, most of them have rubber, slip-resistant feet to make sure that the seat will remain stable when the user sits down. It is important to confirm if the shower seat you are buying includes these before you purchase it. If your loved one has significant balance issues, you might want to consider chairs with suction cup feet that completely attach the chair to the floor for maximum stability.
Different Types of Shower Stools and Chairs
When it comes to seats for showering that seniors can use, there are a lot of options to choose from. They come in a variety of designs and sizes to fit the unique needs of every individual. Each type of shower stool and chair can aid people with different levels of mobility. To help you select the best one for your loved one, below are the different types of shower stools and chairs:
Standard Shower Chairs (with or without a back)
These are shower seats that have the basic four legs and look similar to a regular chair. Most of the time, they feature hand grips to make it easier to stand up and sit down in the chair. Some come with back support, which can be great depending on the amount of support needed. Below are some examples of standard shower chairs to help you choose:
Oasis Space Heavy Duty Shower Chair: This shower chair can support up to 500 lbs. It is made of a heavy-duty anodized aluminum frame. It has a thickened seat and a backrest. It also comes with anti-skid rubber tips to ensure safety when showering. It is suitable for bariatric, elderly, seniors, and adults. The back support is removable and the chair’s height can be adjusted based on your preferences.
Medical Tool-Free Assembly Shower Stool: This shower stool has a round design, and it is ideal for small bathtubs and shower stalls. It features adjustable legs to fit the needs of the user. It also has anti-slip rubber tips on the legs to prevent it from sliding when being used. The frame is made of anodized aluminum, making it sturdy. It can support up to 250 lbs. It is lightweight and portable, too.
Folding Shower Stools
Folding shower stools are best for people who have the least amount of mobility and balance issues. These stools simply fold up and go in the shower, providing the user a seat while taking a bath. It neither has a back nor any handlebars for support. Below are a few examples of folding shower stools to help you pick:
Drive Medical Handicap Bathroom Bench: This is a folding shower stool that is compact. It can provide support for bathing and can be stored easily. It is made of durable aluminum and features a sturdy plastic seat. It folds without tools, and it comes equipped with suction-style tips on the legs for stability.
URFORESTIC Bamboo Folding Shower Stool: This is a durable folding shower stool that can support up to 500 lbs. It is made from natural bamboo, which is strong and air-purifying. It can help relieve fatigue while taking a bath. Its design is compact and foldable, allowing it to fit in small spaces when not in use. It can be used in the shower, spa, and sauna.
Fold Down Shower Chairs
This type of shower chair provides the utmost support as it is mounted inside the shower. It features handlebars, a backrest, and usually another handlebar in the shower for support. Below are some examples to help you choose:
Folding Shower Seat with Grab Bar: This shower seat is made of stainless steel and injected molded ABS. It has grab bars on both sides, making it more friendly to seniors, the disabled, pregnant, and other people with disabilities. It is mounted around 3.5 inches from the wall, providing enough space to move. It can hold up to 330 lbs. It should only be installed on concrete, solid brick, natural dense stone, and other load-bearing walls to ensure safety.
Wall-Mounted Folding Shower Seat: This shower seat folds quickly to save space in the shower when not in use. It is waterproof and comfortable to use. The steel bracket of the chair can hold up to 350 lbs. It also has supporting legs to prevent the seat from exerting excessing destructive pressure on the wall. It also comes with a grab bar to provide more assistance and safety when sitting and standing.
Rolling Shower Chairs
There are also rolling shower chairs that have wheels and locking mechanisms. Some of them feature a flip-up seat, providing you with the option of using it as a commode if needed. Below are a few examples of rolling shower chairs to help you choose:
KMINA PRO Shower Chair with Wheels: This shower chair can be used by people who have limited mobility. It also doubles as a commode toilet chair. It features removable nylon footrests and folding armrests that offer different options for the user. The seat is also padded for additional comfort. It has a brake system on the front and rear wheels to ensure maximum grip and safety while in use. It can hold up to 265 lbs.
IPU VL Mid-Size Rolling Shower Chair: This shower chair features a padded seat and mesh back support. It has sturdy, all-locking caster wheels and a comfortable open front soft seat in different colors. It is designed to accommodate larger patients. It can hold up to 350 lbs.
A transfer bench can be useful for people who find it difficult to get into and out of the tub. They are longer compared to regular shower chairs. Two of the legs of the chairs are inside the tub while the other two legs are out of the tub. A person can sit and then slide to the area in the tub to wash and easily slide to the other side to go out of the tub or shower stall. Below are some examples of transfer benches to help you pick:
Drive Medical Tub Transfer Bench: This is a bath and shower transfer bench that is designed to assist people while entering and exiting the bath. It can accommodate any bathroom. It is easy to assemble and also has an adjustable height for more comfort. It also has a stabilizing backrest that provides more support and safety, especially for seniors.
DMI Tub Transfer Bench and Shower Chair: This transfer bench features a sliding shower bench, making transfers from wheelchairs to the bath or shower easier. It is ideal for seniors, disabled, handicapped, or post-surgical patients. It is made of strong and high-quality materials. The seat has a backrest, a hook and loop safety belt, and nylon strap locks to hold the seat in place. It also has non-slip feet and a removable cut-out for perineal access.
Shower seats are indeed among the most helpful tools for seniors when taking a bath. They can provide support and safety, allowing your elderly loved ones to be independent when showering without the fear of slipping and falling. The need for bathroom safety is truly critical for seniors. Therefore, if you are looking for ways to keep them safe whenever they use the bathroom, try to consider buying a shower seat for them. We hope this post helped you learn more about buying shower stools and chairs.
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