It happens to most of us. We lose mobility as we age and need help moving around. Showers can be particularly troublesome. Here we review the best shower transfer benches to improve safety in the bathtub and improve mobility.
By mobility, we mean the ability to transfer our bodyweight, use the stairs, and walk at a reasonable speed unassisted. We hope to avoid the need for picking out a bathtub bench the same as we hope to avoid choosing a walker. Improved mobility adds up to a better quality of life. We age more gracefully, more safely.
Senior Shower Safety
It can become especially difficult for seniors to take a shower. They fear falling, slipping, or being unable to get back up in the event of a fall. Retaining balance is a serious problem for seniors. That’s why taking a shower can present such risks. Many elderly people shower less – if at all – and miss showering the worries of the day away or simply enjoying that feeling of clean.
That is why seniors, people with disabilities, or those at any age with balance challenges need the best shower transfer bench they can buy. The safety and reassurance of one maintains a world of safer mobility.
Why Seniors Lose Balance Over Time
The effects of time on our bodies are obvious as we move from infant to old age. We lose balance for a few reasons. The more we know about the loss of mobility, the more options we have to deal with this issue.
Normal Loss of Strength
Some loss of mobility and balance is a normal part of aging. Our blood doesn’t circulate as readily as it once did, and we lose strength in our legs. Weaker legs can make us less active, exasperating the problem. We keep losing strength and confidence in our ability to move, so we move less and less.
Many chronic diseases can weaken muscles, limit mobility, or impact our balance. These diseases can include diabetes, arthritis, certain heart diseases, and others. They frequently lead to inactivity, which leads to immobility. It’s a vicious circle.
Seniors can gain weight more easily from being less active. The added weight makes it increasingly challenging to move and enjoy normal physical activities.
Seniors become ill more frequently than younger adults. This can begin the vicious circle of being less active and finding that being less active leads to less mobility.
Loss of balance is very common among seniors, and one of the primary reasons why showering can become such a hazardous activity. The better your sense of balance, the more independently you can live your life. While moving around can be challenging when you suffer from weak balance, the more you move, the stronger balance. Movement helps with blood circulation throughout your body.
Tai chi instructor Stanwood Chang considers the ancient art of Tai chi one of the best methods for seniors to improve their balance and help decrease their risk of falling. According to Mr. Chang, “In just 12 weeks, I’ve seen people improve their balance and stability and walk faster and farther.”
Why is Tai chi so successful at improving balance? The movements develop all the needed components for remaining upright, such as strength, range of motion, and flexibility. All of these are likely to decrease as we grow older.
In addition, Mr. Chang says, “the slow, deliberate footwork brings more awareness to the soles of the feet, not only in terms of touch sensitivity of foot to the floor, but also in awareness to changes in the ankle angle and weight distribution.”
There are yoga poses that help improve balance, create bodily awareness, and build endurance. Do not hesitate to use a chair or a wall for support assistance. You don’t need to be a perfect yogi to get the benefits from yoga.
A book or CD on specific poses will be very useful in getting you started. The best poses for balance improvement are:
- Balancing Mountain
- Warrior pose
- Tree pose
- Balancing Star
- Standing Pigeon
- Dancer Pose
- Standing Twist
A study conducted by the University of Michigan Medical School’s division of geriatric medicine and published in the American Geriatric Society found that around 33 percent of seniors older than 60 years were unable to climb in and out of the bathtub safely. In addition, 70 percent of showers had hazardous features, such as glass shower doors and towel bars that seniors attempted to use for support.
The researchers found that these adults were at risk for serious falls that potentially could result in fractured or broken bones. Seniors in the study had difficulty positioning their bodies safely as they got in or out of the bathtub. Prevention, such as the use of shower transfer benches, was viewed as necessary safety measures.
Using a Shower Transfer Bench Safely
Using a transfer bench to get in and out of a tub can do much to improve bathing safety for seniors. Here are some tips:
- Seniors can suffer from failing eyesight. Placing a colorful towel on the seat provides additional visual guidance and can prevent falls.
- Use a hand-held shower head for better control of the water flow. Make sure the water temperature is warm and comfortable. It will help make showering a more pleasant experience.
- Use a no-rinse hair conditioner. This will keep you from having to spend additional time in the shower rinsing your hair.
Using a shower transfer bench provides seniors (and their caregivers) with the ability to enjoy a relaxing hot shower. Fortunately, there are several excellent shower benches available for every type of need. Let’s look at five of them.
5 Best Shower Benches
1- Carex Tub Transfer Bench – Shower Chair
- ADJUSTABLE SEAT HEIGHT makes it easy to level the bath bench to the perfect height, no tools required. The bath seat (or shower seat) disassembles quickly and easily for storage or travel so you'll never have to leave your comfort at home.
- EASY TRANSFER INTO THE TUB. One side of the tub bench sits outside the tub, the other inside the tub. Simply sit on the outside part of the bench and slide the legs around to the inside bath side. Legs are easily adjusted to sit flat and secure.
- STURDY, HOLDS 300lbs. This tub transfer bench shower chair is compact in size but holds up to 300lbs. Comes standard with over-sized slip-resistant tips for increased stability. Product only weighs 11lbs.
The Carex Tub Transfer Bench seat can be adjusted for any height. It can be taken apart quickly for storage or to take with you while traveling. At under $100.00, it is reasonably priced.
It makes it easy for seniors to get into the tub, as one side of the shower chair is outside of the tub. Just lower yourself onto the outside part and slide yourself inside the shower. The legs of the chair are quite secure.
The Carex Tub Transfer Bench will hold up to 300 pounds. The bench itself is lightweight at just over 10 pounds. It is comfortable and provides needed safety to seniors with balance issues or anyone with disabilities.
- The transfer into the tub is easy, thanks to the sliding seat.
- The bench is sturdy and safe.
- The seat has drainage holes.
- The bench rests inside and outside of the shower, which can let water onto the bathroom floor.
- It is a large bench and can take up space.
2 – Gateway Premium Sliding Transfer-Bench
- PROFESSIONAL GRADE sliding transfer bench, bath and shower chair. Effortless sliding and pivoting for safe, easy transfers in and out of the tub or shower. Platinum Health products are trusted in thousands of hospitals, nursing homes and private homes by users who value quality, safety, convenience and comfort over price. TOOLS-LESS assembly in under 5 minutes. IMPORTANT! PLEASE REVIEW THE DIMENSIONS SHOWN IN THE LINE DRAWING CAREFULLY BEFORE ORDERING TO MAKE SURE THIS ITEM WILL FIT YOUR ROOM
- PADDED SEAT AND BACKREST. No more cold, slippery, hard plastic surfaces like old-style bath chairs; the Gateway provides warm to the touch, comfortable, slip resistant padding on both the seat and backrest. The medical-grade, closed-cell molded polyurethane padding will not absorb any water and is easy to clean and disinfect. 100% reversible-can be used with right side and left side access tubs and showers.
- SWIVEL-SEAT SPACE SAVING DESIGN. Not only is the swivel seat safer, easier to use and more comfortable than a standard fixed seat, this design means that the chair protrudes into the room much less than a traditional transfer bench. More convenient for the user, and more convenient for others that don’t require use of the chair since the free space in the bathroom is much greater.
The Gateway Premium Sliding Transfer Bench is one of the best shower transfer benches for seniors who value their comfort and safety. This shower transfer bench has a padded seat and backrest that can be cleaned and disinfected easily. The swivel seat design is safer than the usual fixed seat and frees up more needed bathroom space.
The padded handle makes it easy to slide in and out of the shower. The seat can be adjusted for any height. The distinct blue bench, backing, and handle make this sliding transfer bench even easier to use for seniors with visual problems or approaching senility.
- The padded seat is extraordinarily comfortable.
- The seat can be adjusted to various heights.
- This sliding transfer bench has adjustable rubber feet that add to shower safety by preventing it from slipping.
- The bench might not always lock properly.
3 – Eagle Health Ergo Swiveling Sliding Bathtub Transfer Bench
- SAFETY FIRST: No need to fear slipping and falling! Strong heavy duty frame, large contoured seat for ergonomic comfort, patented locks at both ends, anti-slip rubber tips and safety belt make this a safe and reliable tub bench bath chair.
- EASE & COMFORT: Large ergonomic seat swivels 360°, locking every 90°, and slides smoothly in and out of the tub/shower. Makes bathing and showering easier and more comfortable. No more skin tears or infections from scooting! Less aches and pains for caregivers. Reclaim independence with this easy-to-use bath bench and sliding shower chair.
- MULTI-FUNCTION DESIGN: We developed the FIRST sliding transfer bench on the market 20+ years ago. The new ERGO model features a larger seat and a special formula of warmer-to-touch plastic (rather than cold aluminum frames) Tool-less assembly. Height adjustable to fit YOUR needs. Longer lengths and custom options available at our Amazon Storefront
The Eagle Health Swivel Sliding Shower Transfer Bench is made of sturdy material. The swivel seat rotates, and the seat locks at every turn, making it very safe.
The height of the swivel sliding shower transfer bench is totally adjustable. For a feeling of extra security, there is a safety belt strap to keep the bather safely in the chair. And the legs have rubber tips to prevent slipping.
- The seat locks into position.
- The bench is corrosion-resistant.
- The bench is very easy to operate.
- No tools are needed, but some assembly is required
4 – Carousel Sliding Transfer Bench with Swivel Seat
- PROFESSIONAL GRADE sliding transfer bench, bath and shower chair. Effortless sliding and pivoting for safe, easy transfers in and out of the tub. Platinum Health products are used in thousands of hospitals, nursing homes and in private homes by customers who value quality, safety, convenience and comfort over price. Note: OPTIONAL LEG EXTENSION KIT AVAILABLE FOR TUBS WITH HIGH LEDGE.
- PADDED SEAT, BACK AND ARMRESTS. No more cold, slippery, hard plastic parts like old-style bath chairs; the Carousel provides warm to the touch, comfortable, slip resistant padding on all main components. The medical-grade, closed-cell molded polyurethane padding will not absorb any water and is easy to clean and disinfect. Quick TOOLS-LESS assembly in less than 5 minutes.
- HEAVY-DUTY 600 LB. CAPACITY. Designed specifically for bariatric users, with extra wide seat and backrest. Bath safely and comfortably without the fear of falling.
The Carousel Sliding Shower Transfer Bench is the premium of its kind as the best sliding shower transfer bench. The price reflects this, as it is one of the most expensive benches on the market. However, it has some tremendous features, such as a 600 lb. capacity, padded chair and back, and pivoting arms.
This professional grade bench provides easy gliding for a safe shift in and out of the shower. As an added bonus, there are optional leg extensions for bathtubs that have a high ledge. There are also two armrests to assist the user in and out of the shower.
A unique feature of the Carousel Sliding Transfer Bench that is rarely found in the best shower transfer benches is that the seat padding will not absorb water.
- This sliding bench is well padded for added comfort
- It is easy to set up.
- It comes with recommendations for doctors.
- It is especially designed to carry extra weight.
- It is one of the most expensive sliding transfer benches on the market.
5 – Medline Tub Transfer Bench
The Medline Tub Transfer Bench comes with Antimicrobial Protection to prevent any bacterial growth or mold from forming. It is lightweight and has a sidearm, which provides an additional layer of protection for the bather. In addition, two of the bench’s legs come with suction cups to prevent slippage.
The Medline Tub Transfer Bench has a 300 lb. capacity.
- It is easy to assemble.
- The chair is comfortable.
- It has antimicrobial protection.
- The suction cups work best if the bathtub has a non-slip coating; otherwise, they may not work very well.
Tips on Helping Seniors with Mobility
Proper mobility is critical to keeping seniors feeling independent. The loss of mobility can turn everyday activities, such as walking, cleaning the house, or shopping, into possible health hazards. This is a difficult reality for many seniors.
Fortunately, seniors can be proactive in retaining their mobility for as long as possible and improving any mobility that is already shaky.
- Your balance is crucial. Aim for exercises that will improve balance.
- Exercising builds strength. See a physical therapist or personal trainer for exercises that suit your situation.
- When mobility is a problem, it is easier to do less, such as having groceries delivered instead of shopping yourself or having someone else clean your house. These are excellent options when they become necessary. Until that time, however, commit to remaining active. Do as many chores on your own, such as gardening or the laundry, even if it is not easy. Consider the use of a walker or a cane.
- For easier mobility, wear a good, comfortable pair of shoes. They are worth the expense.
- Struggling with mobility takes added energy. Ensure that you are eating healthily to give your body that needed boost.
- Having your eyes checked should be an annual event. Faulty vision or outdated eyeglasses can cause falls and slips.
Note: Always consult a physician before starting any new exercise plan.
We experience many changes as we grow older. Some can be stressful to cope with. However, when we exercise and eat properly, we reduce the negative signs of aging considerably. And we increase our ability to complete daily tasks, such as showering.
It is important to come to terms with aging as life expectancy increases. The better we take care of ourselves, the easier each day will be. Your body will change; it is up to you to be prepared and control those changes. Do not let them control you. Have senior mobility tips we didn’t cover here? Are there particular challenges you or your loved one has had? Share your experience in the comments section. Be safe!