Unassisted bathing and showering can become difficult in old age. Fortunately a range of aids is available which make it easier and safer. Simply getting in and out of the bath are tasks which can go from routine, to fraught with danger in later life. Fragile bones and impaired balance can lead to falls and bone fractures.
A fall for some elderly people is a dangerous, even life-threatening event. Broken bones or ligament damage can lead to long periods in hospital and the risk of infection and secondary illness.
Some people use steps and support rails fitted around the bath to make it safer to get in and out. This is a solution for many, but ideally a walk-in shower cubicle is widely regarded as the best long-term option. The drawback with this is that the person has to stand for the duration of the shower. Many conditions affecting the elderly make this very uncomfortable.
Seating in the Shower Cubicle
To overcome this problem, many people use a shower stool situated in the cubicle itself. Made from rust-proof materials, these provide an effective solution. They enable the user to sit down while showering, thus reducing the strain involved.
Without the high side of the bathtub to overcome, this option is easily the safest for elderly people. It reduces the chance of slipping and having a dangerous fall.
It is however important to choose the correct chair, seat or stool. Most of the best designs share some key features.
As the sitting area is going to be wet, it is crucial that it drains well. This means that it will need holes in the seat itself. Water from the shower then runs through the seat, reducing the chances of the user slipping when sitting in standing water.
The potential slipperiness of the floor of the shower is also an issue. Fitting non-slip feet to the stool can remedy this.
High friction plastic stoppers are ideal for this task. Old fashioned rubber feet perish over time because of exposure to water, reducing their gripping properties. They are no longer popular choices of material. Many modern plastics on the other hand, are waterproof and will do a great job as non-slip feet for shower seats for elderly.
For the seat’s frame, aluminium is the most popular choice for use in wet environments. It is strong and lightweight, making it easy to move in and out of the shower. Its non-corrosive properties further enhance its suitability.
An additional feature which some seats employ, is a back rest. These often make the sitter feel more secure than a simple stool.
Mobile Shower Wheelchairs
A disabled shower seat may need to be more substantial than the standard equipment available for the elderly. People with severe disability often require special wheelchairs in order to access the shower.
Building wet-rooms with smooth flooring from wall-to-wall, and under the shower head. This means a wheelchair can roll in and out without obstruction.
Regular-use wheelchairs are not suitable for this purpose. Shower wheelchairs made using appropriate non-rusting materials with perforated drainage seats are more appropriate.
In some cases, the wheelchair user may need nursing care to help them in the bathroom. Waist height shower screens protect the nurse or carer as they wheel the chair into the shower area, so that they can assist without getting wet themselves.
Another type of disabled shower seat is the wall-mounted variety. These work as fixed benches which stick-out horizontally from the wall, or they can fold flat when not in use. These collapse against the wall, so they do not take up much space. This is a useful feature, especially if the able bodied people use the same cubicle. It is of vital important to securely fix this type of seat to the wall.