How A Shower Chair Can Be Used To Improve Bathroom Safety

Having a shower is an energy demanding activity that some individuals may struggle with following surgery, acute illness or if one has a chronic health condition. Bathroom safety equipment and personal medical alert systems can be used to make showering easier and more safe.

This article will specifically cover how a shower chair can be used to make the bathroom more safe and the factors that one must consider prior to its use.

What is a shower chair and how is it used?

A shower chair is a surface that one sits on while having a shower either in a bathtub or in a shower stall. The feet are generally made of rubber to prevent the chair from sliding or shifting while in use on wet areas, but they can also be held against the floor by suction.


Traditionally, a shower chair has a large seat with a backrest to lean against. While the backrest can be removable with some models, the backrest variant tends to be the more popular as it serves as a resting spot for those with poor balance and trunk control.

Some shower chairs can also come with attachable or built in armrests which can be pushed on to help someone stand up. That said, the armrests can interfere with showering from a seated position. 

So while armrests can help with transfers, they may be a barrier to washing all areas of one’s body if they cannot be repositioned out of the way. As a result, people that shower from seated generally rely on a flexible hand held shower head to help wash difficult to reach areas such as one’s back or bottom.

What are the features of a shower chair?

Shower chairs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. These are some common features found on this type of bathroom safety devices:

  • Gripping feet – Feet are made of rubber or held in place by suction to help prevent the chair from moving while it is being used
  • Backrest – A removable option for some chairs, but a useful accessory that allows someone to rest their core muscles which are responsible for trunk control and balance
  • Armrests – Included on some chairs and can be used to push oneself into standing up and to help guide someone as they start to lean backwards to sit down. May be removable on some shower chairs.
  • Tool free assembly – The backrest and feet easily snap into place and stay secured with anchor pins
  • Drainage holes – Prevent the pooling of water on top of the seat during use
  • Adjustable height – Makes the device more accessible and easy to use for adults and seniors that are shorter or taller.

Who should use a shower chair?

Because shower chairs are designed to make someone feel more safe and confident with showering, they are usually used by individuals that are considered at risk of falling such as seniors and those recovering from surgery.

Many people find this bathroom safety equipment helpful when experiencing symptoms such as:

  • Unsure footing
  • Trouble with walking
  • Dizziness and vertigo
  • Feeling tired or fatigued easily
  • Having difficulty with standing balance

How to measure someone for the appropriate shower chair height?

The easiest way to check a shower chair for the appropriate height is to compare the seat height to the back of its user’s knee when standing up straight.

Place the chair on a flat surface outside of the bathtub or shower enclosure. Adjust the chair’s seat height by pushing the anchor pin in to raise or lower each of the chair’s four feet. Ensure that the feet of its user remain flat on the floor and supported while sitting.

If the foot is dangling when seated, the chair needs to be lowered. If the knee is bent slightly above than the seat, then the feet of the chair should be raised. Once a comfortable height is found, the chair can then be placed inside the bath or shower for use.

Shoes are generally not worn when showering, so having them on during the shower chair measurement can lead to inaccuracies. Shoes may slightly lift one’s legs higher and make the measurement less accurate.

Can a shower chair be used at the sink?

Aside from helping a senior with showering, a shower chair can serve other purposes. For instance, it can be situated in the bathroom and used as a chair for someone to undress before showering or to dress after washing.

While a shower chair is usually too short to reach tall counterspaces, some people use it anyway at sinks as a resting spot while shaving, applying makeup or engaging in other personal care activities. 

When a shower chair may not be available, some individuals use their built in seat of a rollator walker to engage in personal hygiene tasks at the sink. That said, people usually run into the same problem with built-in seats being too low to easily reach the top of the counter.

Of course, if one’s bathroom was modified to have lowered counterspaces, a shower chair could be just the right height. That said, this type of change usually requires extensive renovation and is more expensive compared to using other more compatible assistive devices.

A better alternative would be a perch stool which can help someone sit in a taller position than a shower chair or a rollator walker seat.The height adjustability range of a perching stool is far greater than that of a typical chair, so personal hygiene tasks at the sink can be completed with more ease.


Can a shower chair fit in all showers?

Given it’s larger size, a shower chair may not be compatible with some smaller showers. 

For example, a chair placed inside a cramped shower may block the ability for someone to move towards the front of the chair to sit down or stand up. If one is able to sit, legs could be squished right up against the shower wall and it may be uncomfortable or not practical to sit for any length of time.

A shower stool is an alternate safety equipment specifically designed for smaller showers. This device is largely equivalent to a shower chair, but has a smaller sitting surface without a backrest to lean against and armrests to support transfers. As a result of these missing features, someone using a shower stool must have a good amount of sitting balance.


Overall, tight spacing within a shower can be made more safe with a shower stool which takes up minimal floor space. The equipment itself is designed to allow its users a greater ability to maneuver with transfers and provides minimal interference with the process of cleaning oneself.