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How to Use Shower Chair: New Owner’s Guide

By Maurice

How to Use Shower Chair

According to the CDC, most unintentional falls happen in the bathroom, mainly in the shower. Many of these falls could have been prevented by simply using a shower chair.

As a nurse, I frequently get asked questions about the types of shower chairs and how to use them. I will share and answer some of these questions so you can pick the best shower chair for you or your loved one and use it safely.

Types of Shower Chairs

A shower chair is a specialized chair used to provide support during the shower and increase the safety of the person who is using the chair. There are several different types of shower chairs, so we will start by explaining some of them to you.

A shower chair generally has four legs with rubberized feet for stability. Though some can be rolling or mechanical, they will look different. Here are some of the basic types of shower chairs:

  • Transfer Bench – this chair is designed for people with extreme difficulty getting into the bathtub. Two of the legs are inside of the bathtub, and two of them are outside of the bathtub. This design allows the person to sit on the chair outside the tub and gently slide into the bathtub. It will generally have a back rest so the person can sit and shower safely.
  • Folding Stool Style – This chair is designed for ease of use and folding ability. It can easily be removed and folded so others can use the bathtub or shower. It is just a stool with no back or side arms.
  • Standard Shower Chair – A standard shower chair is a chair with rubber feet, handrails, and a wider seat. It is designed for someone that can get into the tub or shower but is at risk of slipping or is weaker.
  • Fold Down Shower Chair – Is installed in the shower or bathtub and folds against the wall when not used. The chair will pull down when you need to use it; it has two legs that lower into the shower when using, and the back is supported by the wall where it is attached.
  • Rolling Shower Chair – Is used for someone who cannot enter the shower alone. They are moved from their bed or wheelchair into the shower chair and rolled into the shower. The rolling chair can sometimes combine a shower chair and a commode (toilet) chair. The commode bucket is removed when showering.
  • Mechanical Lift Chair - A Showerbuddy bath lift is an example of a mechanical chair. This chair will gently lower you into your bathtub and raise you back up when you are finished. This type of chair makes it easier for you to get into and out of the bathtub safely. It makes taking a bath safer by reducing the risk of falling.

How Do You Use a Shower Chair

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So, you have decided which shower chair is best and now have the chair placed in the shower or bathtub.

These steps will help you use the basic shower chair.

  1. 1
    Make sure you look at manufacturer guidelines for setting up your chair and that you have it adjusted to a good height for the person using the chair.
  2. 2
    It is always good to practice using the chair before taking a shower.
  3. 3
    Use a grab bar to step into the bathtub or shower. You can face the grab bar and either bring your leg up or bend at the knee to bring your legs into the tub.
  4. 4
    With the back of your legs touching the chair, reach back, hold the chair, and gently lower yourself onto the chair.
  5. 5
    Adjust yourself, making sure you are in the center of the chair.
  6. 6
    Once you have completed your shower or bath, you can reverse the steps to get back out of the tub, using the grab bar for safety.

Use the chair in the way it is designed. If you have a basic chair, get into the tub before sitting down; if you try to sit first, the chair could tip. If you have difficulty getting into the tub, a transfer bench may be better suited.

These steps will help you use a transfer bench:

  1. 1
    Again, make sure you look at manufacturer guidelines for setting up your transfer bench and that you have it adjusted to a good height for the person using the chair. Additionally, since this type of chair has two legs in the tub and two legs out of the tub, ensure the height clears the side of the bathtub.
  2. 2
    When you approach this chair from the outside of the tub, you will turn around with the back of your legs touching the side of the chair, and you will again reach back as you would sitting in a regular chair and carefully sit down.
  3. 3
    Scoot back into the chair and pivot your bottom, bring one leg into the tub, scoot slightly more, then bring the other leg into the tub.
  4. 4
    Once in the tub, scoot yourself to the center of the chair.
  5. 5
    Note that there is a slit in the edge of a transfer bench; this slit is for you to pull your shower curtain and gently tuck it into to prevent water from coming out of the shower.
  6. 6
    Again, you will repeat these steps in reverse to get out of the shower.

For the other chairs, make sure you follow manufacturing guidelines for using the chair. If needed, have your physician refer you to a physical or occupational therapist to assist you in getting the correct chair for your needs and train you to use the chair properly.

Tips to Use Your Shower Chair Safely

Safe use of the shower chair is essential for reducing falls or injuries when a person is using their shower chair. Here is a list of things to consider when using a chair:

  • Make sure it does not slide around in your shower or bathtub. If it does, you may want to put a nonslip bathmat in to reduce sliding.
  • Ensure the chair is level and does not wobble or lean to one side. You can do this by having all the feet pulled out to the same distance and locked in place.
  • Remove obstructions or items that could cause the person using the chair to slip and fall.
  • Adjust the height to ensure it is the correct height for the person using it. Their feet should sit stable on the shower floor, and it should be easy to access from a standing position or wheelchair transfer.
  • Make sure you are seated in the center of the chair, not on the edge, as this could cause the chair to tip.
  • If you are stepping into a tub, place grab bars on the wall to easily step into the tub.
  • Ensure you have a nonslip surface inside and outside the bathtub for safety.

A shower chair in your home can make taking showers or baths safer for you. For more information about purchasing a shower chair, refer to this website.

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