The term “bariatric,” if you are not familiar with it, refers to weight. Simply put, a bariatric shower seat can hold more weight than the standard shower seat which typically can hold someone up to 250 pounds.
These heavy duty shower seats are available for people who weigh over 250 pounds up to about 900 pounds. These chairs are built to provide extra stability, allowing the larger person to enjoy the benefits of sitting while in the shower.
There are a number of factors to consider when you are about to buy one of these bariatric shower chairs. All bariatric chairs are not the same. By matching your individual needs with the considerations below you will be able to find a safe and comfortable chair.
The features you should consider are similar to the ones found in The Benefits and Features of Shower Seats.
- Weight capacity
- Construction and Materials
- Seat height
- Seat Legs
- Backrests and Armrests
The key feature to consider is, of course, how much weight the chair can hold. Chairs are available that can hold 350, 500, and even up to 900 pounds. This is the first thing to look for when buying a bariatric shower chair. A shower seat that is labeled “bariatric” or “heavy duty” should list its weight capacity. That’s the first thing you should look for.
And when you first get the chair, sit on it before you use it in the shower to be sure it’s stable and the seat legs do not bend in any way.
Construction and Materials
How the seat is put together will give you a clue about how sturdy it will be. Most bariatric shower chairs will have cross-braces going across the legs. This key feature is what helps the chair support the extra weight. If you have to assemble the chair yourself be certain these braces are tightly in place.
You need to consider what material the seats and legs are made of. You want the legs to be made of aluminum, rather than steel. Aluminum is less likely to bend and it will be more rust-resistant. The seats are usually made of vinyl or plastic which helps prohibit mildew.
You also want to know the materials used to hold the chair together. Is it screws, rivets, or all plastic? Screws must be securely tightened. Rivets must be welded properly. And the PVC must be solidly glued together.
Other questions about the assembly of the chair include:
- Does it have drain holes in the seat to let water through, reducing the chances for mildew?
- Is the seat curved or straight? Which one will you feel more comfortable sitting on?
- Does the seat come with other construction options you want such as handles in the seat or padding on the seat?
The size of the seat is important because each of us has a different shaped body. Check the width, length, and depth of the seat. You want the measurements to be large enough to accommodate your bottom.
I recommend actually measuring how much space your bottom takes up when sitting in a chair. Then check to make sure your shower seat is wide enough for those measurements. If you don’t fit comfortably on the shower chair there is a danger of you slipping off, even if it can hold your weight.
This measurement can be important, especially if you are tall. You want your feet to rest comfortably on the shower floor when you are sitting in your seat. Otherwise you may be off balance.
While sitting in a comfortable chair, measure the dimension from the floor to where your bottom is on the chair. This is usually from 14 to 19 inches. Some shower chairs have seats that are adjustable. Make sure the seat can adjust to the height you need.
You don’t want your shower chair slipping around in the shower. Make sure that the legs have rubber tips or suction cups on them to hold the chair in place when you’re using it in the shower.
Backrests and armrests
Some models are available with backs and some come with backs and arms. People find that having a back or back and arms provides added support, especially if you are overweight.
The back prevents you from leaning too far back in the seat and the arms can help you get into and out of the chair. Attached arms can limit the width of the seat, so if you do want arms, make sure the width of the chair will still accommodate your body.
Bariatric Chair Cost
A shower seat with bariatric support will typically cost a bit more than a standard shower chair. The additional cost is for the added bracing used on these type seats. But it is well worth it for the comfort and safety. Also, chairs with backs and arms will also cost more.
You can find these chairs online and in local pharmacies or large chain stores. Prices can vary a lot, so be sure you are comparing similar models with similar dimensions and features.
NOTE: Some overweight people use wheelchairs. For them, bariatric transfer benches are available. These transfer benches are long seats that provide extra support legs in the middle. You can then more easily move from your wheelchair to sit in your shower. Read more in Bariatric Shower Seats, Shower Commode Chairs, and Shower Transfer Benches