We all need to bathe or shower on a regular basis, but for senior citizens and people with disabilities, this common, everyday activity can be fraught with danger due to limited mobility. Luckily, these days adaptive equipment can help make baths and showers accessible for these folks. In this article, we discuss tub transfer benches and sliding shower chairs. We also provide sound advice to help you choose the best one to suit your needs. Read on to learn more.
Keep These Features In Mind When Choosing A Tub Transfer Bench Or Sliding Shower Chair
1. Stool or Bench? A stool style tub seat sits in the tub. A bench style extends over the side of the tub to allow easy, safe transfer from wheel chair to tub seat.
2. Padding: You can get tub transfer benches that are either padded or unpadded. Naturally, a bench with padding is the more comfortable choice. This is especially true if the person using the bench is unpadded (thin). Padding is also a nice addition for people who like to take leisurely showers and need to be comfortable seated for a longer period of time.
On the downside, padded benches are little more expensive than plain, unpadded benches. Additionally, it can be harder to slide along a padded bench to get in or out of the tub. This is especially true for users who may be heavier.
3. Weight Bearing Capacity: Very slim users or those of medium build, weighing under 250 pounds, can do fine with a tub transfer bench that has the standard weight bearing capacity of about 400 pounds.
Heavier users, weighing more than 250 pounds, are well advised to look for a bench that offers bariatric weight bearing capacity, which may be as much as 850 pounds. Even though this may seem like overkill, it’s far better to be safe than sorry.
4. Sliding Shower Chair: Another good option for heavier users or those with very limited mobility is a sliding shower chair or bathtub transfer bench. These devices feature a seat on rollers that glides from the outside of the tub or shower to the correct position for showering or bathing.
5. With Back or Backless? While there are tub and shower benches without backs, these are generally not recommended. It doesn’t cost much more to get a bench with a back, and this feature makes a big difference in comfort for all users. For those who experience weakness in the upper body, the support of a back is absolutely necessary.
6. Adjustability: Although adjustable legs may cost a bit more, they are well worth the outlay of cash. Being able to adjust the legs makes it possible to use the same bench or stool in any tub or shower. It also enables the user to adjust the product precisely for comfort and safety. Often, the back legs of a shower or tub bench must be made slightly shorter than the front ones because of the slope of the tub or shower stall.
7. Non-Slip Safety: Some tub and shower stools and benches have non-slip padded tips. Others have suction cups. Some have a combination of the two, with padded tips on the legs that will be outside the tub and suction cups on those inside the tub.
Pay close attention to this feature when making your purchase, and make certain that the legs that will rest on the slick, slippery surface of the tub or shower floor are equipped with suction cups. This is by far, the safest choice.
If you happen to purchase a bench that does not have suction cups on the feet, you can buy them separately and install them.
What Brand Of Tub Transfer Bench Or Sliding Shower Chair Is Best?
There are many good brands to choose from. Drive Medical is one of the top brands, but other reliable brands include Accessible Designs, Medline, Etac and Invacare. Talk with your doctor, physical therapist or occupational therapist to determine which brand offers the features that will be just right for you and your situation.
Is There Any Help To Pay For A Sliding Shower Chair Or Tub Transfer Bench?
Although Medicare does not cover these adaptive items, some private insurance does. Be sure to consult with your health insurance carrier to determine exactly what they will and will not cover. Work closely with your health care provider and your insurance carrier to be sure of meeting all the requirements necessary for reimbursement.
Do You Really Need A Tub Transfer Bench Or Sliding Shower Chair?
You may think that only people who are coming out of a long hospital or rehabilitation stay need a shower chair or tub transfer bench, but this simply is not true. You don’t have to break a bone or have a stroke to make good use of these handy, adaptive devices. If you are having a bit of a struggle getting in and out of the tub or washing your feet while standing in the shower, consider treating yourself to this affordable addition to your bathroom.
Having a shower chair or tub transfer bench in place can help you prevent dangerous falls, which can result in a broken wrist, leg or hip or even a cracked skull. Good adaptive devices can help you stay safe and independent as your abilities change with age.