Finding and Using the Best Shower Chair for You
Using a shower chair would seem to be a simple undertaking for the average person. But then again not everyone uses a shower chair on a routine basis.
I found myself in need of one for a while last year. I had a total knee replacement and had to learn to do a few things again. These were things that I would usually take for granted, like dressing, climbing stairs, and bathing.
So I needed to get a shower chair. I was taking pain meds for the knee and was in a weakened condition from the surgery, so I had to be careful with my balance. Being able to take a shower was very relaxing. But safety was a primary concern and bathrooms are a place where it’s easy to slip and fall.
I wanted a shower chair that would fit my needs. I am a large person,.. always have been. There’s been more than one occasion when I sat on a chair, only to find myself on the floor among pieces of a ruined chair. (I hate those aluminum lawn chairs)
Here are a few things I wanted my shower chair to have:
First – Would it hold my weight?
- This is very important. I was working on recovery and did not want an accident. I did not want to “hope” it was strong enough; I wanted to be “confident” it would hold up with no problems.
Second – Will it fit in my bathtub?
- I measured the inside width in the base of the tub and then compared that to the measured footprint of the chair. Most of these chairs will fit in a standard tub, but is good to measure just to be sure.
Third – Which over-all design do I want?
- They come with or without arms, backs, soap holders, etc. I decided I wanted a back but I did not need arms. I had already installed a couple of grab bars inside the tub area that were very useful for sitting down, getting up, or getting in and out. For those who don’t have grab bars near the tub, the chair arms are useful.I am a carpenter and I have an article on safe installation of grab bars you may like to read.
Finally – It needed to be light and easy to move.
- I knew my wife would want to help me any way she could and one way was to prepare the bathroom for my use. Put the shower chair in the tub, get a towel/soap, etc. I wanted to be sure she could easily handle it without hurting her back. (One injury recovery at a time, please.)
Using a shower chair makes perfect sense for people when they need one. There’s no use in taking a chance of injury due to falling. The bathroom is full of wet, hard surfaces and it’s easy to get hurt if you’re not careful. Also, there’s the fact that you want to have an enjoyable, relaxing bath, which is hard to do if you’re apprehensive about falling.
Another issue comes up is when the person getting in the tub has difficulty lifting their legs over the tub side to step into the bathtub. There may be balance problems or just mobility issues that are preventing a safe bath. This could be caused by medications or medical conditions or both.
In that case, you might want to consider a tub transfer bench. These are specifically made to address this problem. Basically, they are longer (like a bench) and are placed half in and half- out of the tub. The person using the transfer bench is able to sit on the bench outside of the tub, then slide over, raising their legs, one at a time, over the side of the tub. This keeps them seated, and safe, as they enter and exit the bathtub.
Here is a short list of things to consider when shopping for your shower chair.
Armrests and Back Support
- Do you have grab-bars? Do you want to lean back? Some chairs have arms and backs that are removable.
- Most shower chairs are height-adjustable. The chair should be tall enough so that your feet are placed flat on the floor, with your knees bent at a 90- degree angle.
- Typically, the legs are made of a rust-resistant material, like aluminum. They will have slip-resistant tips that grip the shower floor.
Size and Weight
- Check the chair’s overall height, width, and depth to make sure that it fits into your bath. The weight capacity should be clearly stated in the product description. Make sure the chair’s weight capacity is adequate or better.
Compartments and Holders
- Shower chairs may come with storage compartments and convenient slots to hold a handheld showerhead, soap or shampoo. You can also get add-on bags to hold all these toiletries.
Any shower chair will be completely rust-proof and some may require a bit of simple assembly. Also, they’re really complemented with the use of a shower wand and a long hose.
I still have my shower chair. Though it’s not currently in use, I think I’ll just keep it around. It’s affordable, comfortable and easy to use. Everything should be so easy.