An everyday task like bathing can pose a safety hazard for some seniors. The risk of falling becomes greater if there are balance and mobility issues. Statistics show that every eleven seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall. Many of those falls end in death. In order to reduce the risk of falling in the bathroom, a shower chair may be used to help maintain balance and make bathing easier.
What is a Shower Chair?
Shower chairs are portable chairs (although there are some that can be permanently installed) that can be taken into and out of the bathtub and shower. These chairs are made from materials that are not damaged in water. They are easy to clean and dry fairly quickly. Materials usually consist of rubberized feet, aluminum legs, and a sturdy plastic seat.
Shower chairs can be used in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and regular home bathrooms. They provide extra support for people while in the shower, making it easier to bathe. Besides adding a safety feature, a shower chair can also be relaxing as people reap the benefits of water therapy while they bathe.
Different Types of Shower Chairs
There are different types of shower chairs to aid people with different levels of mobility. Choosing the right one will make all the difference.
- Standard Shower Chair With or Without a Back. These chairs have your basic four legs and look like a regular chair. They often have handgrips to make it easier to stand up and lower down in the chair. There is also an option to buy one with a back depending on the amount of support needed.
- Transfer Bench. This is best for people with issues getting into and out of the tub. These are longer than your typical shower chair. Two of the legs are placed 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.
- Folding Stool. These are meant for people with the least amount of mobility and balance issues. This simply folds up and goes in the shower, providing a seat while bathing. There is neither a back nor any handlebars.
- Fold Down Shower Chairs. These provide the utmost support because they are mounted inside of the shower. There are handlebars, a back and often another handlebar in the shower for support.
- Rolling Shower Chairs. These chairs have wheels and locking mechanisms. Many also have a flip up seat with the option of serving as a commode if need be.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Shower Chair
As you can see not all shower chairs are created equal. That’s why it’s important to take several factors into consideration when deciding which one is right for you.
- Does the height adjust? You want to choose a chair that is tall enough to allow you to place your feet flat on the floor with your knees bent at 90 degrees.
- How is the seat made? It should obviously be comfortable and be able to fit the user. It should also have enough drainage holes to prevent water from building up.
- How much weight does the seat hold? Most seats can hold a maximum of 250 pounds. If you need a larger seat, be sure to shop for the appropriate style.
- Will it fit in my tub? Take measurements of your tub and shower to make sure the chair is just the right size.
Does Insurance Over the Cost of a Shower Chair?
While many nursing homes and assisted living facilities may provide shower chairs, they are typically not covered by Medicare if you live at home and are looking to purchase one. Medicare does not consider a shower chair a piece of “durable medical equipment” that is medically necessary and therefore does not cover it.
Medicaid coverage varies from state to state, so check the regulations where you live. Veterans’ benefits could also be an option. But, they also vary and need to be looked into in a case by case basis.