According to the CDC, at least one in four seniors falls annually. One in five falls results in serious injury, most often a head injury or hip fracture. More than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falls, and each year, more than three million seniors are seen in the emergency room as a result of a fall.
Bathing is one of the most hazardous activities for seniors. Nearly ten percent of injuries occur while getting out of a shower or tub, and another 2 percent occur while getting into the tub. Slipping while bathing or showering makes up for the rest of the injuries. In some instances, shower chairs can reduce the hazard of bathing.
Shower chairs with arms are specially designed for someone to sit on while showing, with or without assistance. The chair is typically made of plastic and waterproof. This bathing aid benefits those with mobility, balance, or fatigue issues.
Shower chairs come in various styles, and you should ensure the particular model you choose meets your or your loved one’s bathing needs. For example, some chairs have a non-skid design, while others are on rollers, making getting in and out of a shower stall easier in some cases and more challenging in others. If a shower chair slides about, you should add rubber feet to improve stability.
When choosing a shower chair, you should check whether or not a particular model will fit in the shower space available. For example, if you plan on using a shower chair in a bathtub rather than a shower stall, be sure that the feet are flat on the floor and do not reach the curved sides of the tub. Balancing the chair on the curve causes instability and could result in injury.
Unless you know exactly what height you need, you should purchase a shower chair that is height adjustable. Your feet should be flat on the floor, not dangling when seated. If they don’t, shorten the chair. Taller individuals will need an adjustment in the other direction to reduce the stress on their knees when sitting and standing.
Weight capacity is another feature to consider. Shower chairs that are not reinforced could collapse, leading to injury. If the person using the chair weighs more than 300 pounds, you should look into a bariatric shower chair.
Shower chairs may or may not have backrests or armrests. Some have side grips instead of arms, and others have an armrest only on one side. There are some pros and cons to having armrests. While they provide additional support when standing and sitting, armrests reduce the seat size.
For example, if the person using the shower chair needs a broader seat, often, these armrests are not adjustable. In this case, a shower chair with side grips might be a better option. If you are unsure after thoughtful consideration of your needs, you should consult an occupational therapist.
A shower chair that swivels might be an excellent option for seniors that need assistance bathing. Not only will it help the bather make sure all areas are cleaned, but it also can help position the patient better to get in and out of the tub safely. But, on the other hand, a shower chair that swivels might be less sturdy than one that doesn’t.
In some instances, the weight and portability of the chair might be something to consider when buying. For example, if more than one person uses the shower or bathtub, the shower chair may need to be placed and removed several times a week. A cumbersome chair will make this process more difficult. However, some models are foldable, simplifying installation and removal.
Since this is a device designed to be used in the shower, any shower chair that you consider should be water resistant. If the legs are metal, they should be rust-proof. The seat should have drain holes to allow for water runoff. Any padding on the seat, backrest, or armrests should be waterproof.
Most insurance plans do not cover shower chairs. Medicare Part A and Part B plans also will not cover shower chairs as they are considered preventative injury medical devices and not medically necessary. Some Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part C will cover preventive injury devices, so check your plan if you are unsure about coverage.
Therefore, price might be a factor when purchasing a shower chair. If the use of a shower chair is due to illness or injury, you may want to choose a less expensive model. However, if a chronic condition, including weakness and fatigue due to aging, is the reason, then it’s best to choose something a little more robust and most likely more expensive for long-term use.
Best Shower Chairs with Arms
We’ve looked at several models and brands of shower chairs with arms and have short-listed the following for your consideration.
Padded Shower Chair with Arms
Our choice for the best padded shower chair with arms is Platinum Health’sHealth’s ComfortAble Deluxe Padded Shower Chair. The medical-grade, closed-cell molded polyurethane foam padding on the seat and armrests is designed to be warm to the touch, minimizing skin tears. It has a 310-pound capacity.
- PADDED SEAT AND ARMRESTS- Provide Comfortable, Warm-to-the-Touch Seating and Minimizes the Risk of Skin Tears. The armrests on this padded shower chair help with falls and assists in entering and exiting the chair. 310LB CAPACITY.
- SAFER, CLEANER DESIGN- Modern blue/silver design. Main Components are BLUE to better VISUALLY CUE the user, unlike old style white/gray chairs that blend into the background. Especially Helpful for Visually Impaired Users to Help with Slips, Trips and Falls; the Leading Cause of Death by Injury in People Over 65. Blue Pads also help stop Staining and Discoloration- a Common Problem with old style white and gray plastic chairs.
This shower chair is blue, which improves its visibility, reducing the chances of tripping over it. The frame is made of durable aluminum and is height adjustable. The feet are covered with non-slip rubber grips. The backrest and armrests are removable, allowing for perfect customization.
Best Shower Chair with Arms and Backrest
Vaunn Medical’sMedical’s shower chair is our choice for the best shower chair with arms and a backrest. The anodized aluminum frame is sturdy and has a weight capacity of 350 pounds. Its wide, contoured polyethylene seat is made with high-density anti-bacterial padding.
- SIT, SHOWER & RELAX- Shower chair allows individuals i.e. anyone or seniors or those with limited mobility or injury to sit during shower. Create a relaxing shower experience; allows fall risk individuals to shower independently
- DURABLE & SECURE - NEW model shower chair is now made with heavy-duty anodized aluminum frame with a weight capacity of 350lbs (compare to competitors' 200lbs). The user manual printout shows a 250lbs max weight capacity. Product has been updated in 2022 to 350lbs
The armrests are also padded. Both the backrest and armrests are removable for the ultimate customization. The legs are height adjustable. It’s easy to assemble and lightweight, weighing just eight pounds with the backrest.
Most Affordable Shower Chair with Arms
If you want something a little more economical, check out Argatin Store’s shower chair with arms. Framed with anodized aluminum alloy, its height is adjustable from 15 to 20 inches in one-inch increments. It has a weight capacity of 250 pounds.
- High degree of adjustability ensured the shower chair fits you. Each shower seat for inside shower has a height adjustable seat from 15" to 20". Height adjustable in 1 " increments. The shower bench is made of heavy duty anodized aluminum frame with a weight capacity of 250lbs.
- Each shower stool also has a drainage hole to prevent water accumulation while sitting. Shower chair for inside shower allows individuals anyone or seniors or those who limited mobility or injury to sit during shower.
The seat has drainage holes to prevent water accumulation. The armrests are padded with high-density polyethylene. This shower chair is easy to assemble and comes with a 2-year warranty.
Widest Shower Chair with Arms
If you need a sturdy shower chair with extra wide seating capacity, then Healthline’s transfer bench might be a good choice. With a weight limit of 500 pounds and a seat width of 25.5 inches, it will allow you to enter and exit the shower with security.
- SAFETY: Heavy Duty transfer bench supports up to 500 pounds and provides independence for seniors and those with limited mobility. Safely enter and exit the bathtub with confidence.
- COMFORTABLE HEALTHLINE TUB TRANSFER BENCH This durable blow-molded white plastic transfer bench with a backrest on A-frame construction provides stability and comfort. Lightweight Transfer Bench is designed to make transfer in/out of tub safe and easy. Approximately 3/4 of the transfer bench extends over the tub, and 1/4 rests on the floor.
The seat is blow-molded plastic with a backrest. The A-frame construction adds to the stability of the device. The adjustability of the legs can raise or lower the seat from 15.5 inches to 19.5 inches. The legs are tipped with suction cups and rubber non-skid covers.
Our choice for the best overall shower chair with arms is the Drive Medical RTL12505 Handicap Bathroom Bench. The legs can be easily adjusted in .5-inch increments from 16 to 20.5 inches. It has a weight capacity of 250 pounds.
- Bathroom Bench: Designed to fit just about any style of bathtub, our tub bench for bathroom is exceptionally easy to install without tools
- Quality Construction: The ultimate handicap shower accessories for daily living, our tub chair for elderly, disabled, and injured individuals is made of durable plastic.Do not use an abrasive cleaner
The legs are firmly attached to the tub or shower floor with angled suction cups. The non-slip seat has drainage holes. The adjustable backrest is wide and sturdy. The armrests are also height-adjustable. Drive Medical provides a limited lifetime warranty on this product.
As mentioned previously, a shower chair with arms might not be the best choice for your particular bathing needs. In that case, here are a few other shower aids to consider that we describe below.
In addition to these, consider a larger, more holistic approach to bathroom safety. Read Derrick’s article on Alzheimer’s Disease Bathroom Safety for more information. Whether you or your loved one has Alzheimer’s doesn’t matter, many of the ideas mentioned there can make the bathroom safer for anyone.
A shower bench or stool is a device you can sit on while bathing that does not have a backrest or armrests. It may or may not be slightly curved at the seat edges to reduce slippage. Some shower benches also have hand grips as part of the seat design.
A shower bench is considerably lighter than a shower chair, making it easier to move in and out of the rub. Some models are height adjustable. Most come with rubber feet for stability and drainage holes for water runoff.
A shower bench might be the best option if it will be used for a short time, such as in the case of injury or illness. Its smaller size makes it easier to store when not in use. It also might be a better alternative if shower chairs with handles are not wide enough to accommodate the bather. Be sure to pay attention to the weight capacity, however.
Built-in Shower Benches
A built-in shower chair or bench is hands down the most stylish option and can be the most expensive. A built-in bench is a solid block installed when the shower is designed. It often uses the same material as the shower walls, making it waterproof and durable. This option works best for large showers.
When designing a built-in shower bench, it should be between 17 and 19 inches tall, at least 14 inches wide, and between 15 and 16 inches deep for comfortable use. The sturdiness of these built-ins means they are capable of supporting most weights.
Another option that can be installed after a shower is built is a shower pan with a bench seat molded as a single unit. Again, this is a better option for larger showers.
Fold-Down Shower Chairs
If money for significant remodeling isn’t in the budget, another permanent solution to shower seating is the fold-down chair. This bathing aid is mounted on the wall in your shower, and the seat can be flipped up or down. Because these fold-down shower chairs can be folded flush against the wall, they take up virtually no space when not in use. The area beneath the seat is open, allowing for better mobility when using a walker or wheelchair than a built-in shower bench.
A fold-down shower chair can also be installed to accommodate a specific height requirement. Ensure that the wall on which you wish to hang the shower chair is supportive enough to bear the weight. Otherwise, it might disengage from the wall and cause injury.
A transfer bench is an extra-long shower chair that aids the bather in getting in and out of the shower or bathtub. Two legs are in the shower area, and the other two are outside. Some are designed for one side to be tub-mounted. The bather sits on the bench, swings their feet into the tub, and slides the seat over. Some models are designed for toilet use as well.
Rolling Shower Chair
Rolling shower chairs are versatile but unwieldy shower devices. It resembles a wheelchair with a toilet-style seat and can be used to position a person over the commode or under the shower head. The wheels lock for safety. This type of showering aid is best for wheelchair-accessible showers, where a shower ledge is not a concern. A rolling shower chair would be best for non-ambulatory individuals or those with significant muscle control or balance issues.
Don’t underestimate the value of a simple grab rail when entering or exiting the bath or shower, also called shower standing handles, these fixtures can make bathing safer all around. This device can be mounted permanently or use suction cups to attach to the wall surface. Grab bars come in a variety of strengths and sizes. Some are straight bars that can be installed at an angle, while others are u-shaped for additional grabbing areas.
With the higher risk of injury in the bathroom, finding a way to enter, exit, and bathe safely should be of paramount importance. These shower chair options with and without backrests are an excellent place to start bathroom safety upgrades. Adding grab rails and slip-proof bath mats in and out of the tub or shower area will improve bath safety for you and your loved ones.