Feb 042011
 


In Part 1 of this series , we considered 4 features of bariatric shower benches: weight capacity, construction, materials, and dimensions. In this part, we’ll look at 5 other important features of these shower seats: seat height, legs, backs and arms, fit in shower or tub, and cost.

Remember, bariatric shower chairs are made to help people who weigh over 250 pounds feel safe and comfortable when sitting in a shower.

Seat height: 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.
Drive Deluxe Bariatric Heavy Duty Bath Bench with Backrest

Legs: 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.

Backs and arms: 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. Medline Bariatric Bath Bench without Back

Fitting in shower or bathtub: These bariatric shower chairs are designed for use in a shower. But remember that they will take up space in your shower. So check the chair dimensions against the dimensions of your shower so you know you’ll have enough space left to get in and out of the shower. Also, if you are going to use these chairs in a bathtub, check its size, as bathtubs are often smaller than showers. What’s more, some tubs are curved on the bottom, making it difficult for the shower chair legs to stay flat. Some people find that they have to turn the chair sideways to use it in their tub, which can decrease your stability when sitting on the seat.

Cost: You will probably pay a little more for a shower seat with bariatric support. 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 on Amazon 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 you, 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.

Feb 042011
 

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
  • Dimensions
  • Seat height
  • Seat Legs
  • Backrests and Armrests
  • Cost

Weight capacity

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?

Dimensions

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.

Seat height

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.

Chair Legs

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

Jul 032009
 


If you are physically challenged because you are overweight or permanently or temporarily physically disabled, you can still experience the comfort of a shower.

The products available to help you include:
• Bariatric shower seats
• Wheeled or shower/commode chairs
• Shower transfer benches

Bariatric shower seats

The term “bariatric,” if you are not familiar with it, refers to weight. Simply put, these are shower seats that can hold more weight than the standard shower seat.

Bariatric shower seats are intended for people from 250 pounds and up. There are chairs available for people who weigh up to 700 pounds. These chairs are built to provide extra stability to the larger person in the shower.

Typically, the seat size will be wider than a standard shower seat to accommodate a larger person. Some bariatric shower chairs also have backrests and cross braces for additional stability and support. Be sure the legs of the seat are adjustable so the overweight person can move the seat to a position where his or her legs can also provide support when sitting.

Wheeled or shower/commode chairs

Wheeled shower seats, also called shower/commode chairs, allow people with disabilities to move themselves to the shower and provide seating when taking a shower. Additionally, this type shower chair can be used as a raised toilet seat as these chairs have a removable commode pail.

Wheels should be a major consideration when buying this type of chair. They should be large to accommodate easier movement across various types of floor surfaces. Most will come with swivel casters and safety locks.

Shower/commode chairs that tilt are also available. This allows caregivers to adjust the chair to more easily reach the person in it. The ability to adjust this type of shower seat is important when considering the growth of special needs children as well as the comfort of the adult user.

Shower Transfer Bench

Typically used for transferring from a wheelchair to a bathtub, this type of shower seat can also be used for moving from a wheelchair to a shower.

Shower transfer benches are usually one piece with a long seat in two parts, and four legs. The person moves from their wheelchair to the transfer bench, which is the outside piece, then slides to the actual seat.

Available options usually include padded seating and removable or adjustable backrests and armrests.

There are also sliding shower transfer benches. In these the person transfers from their wheelchair to a shower seat. The seat then slides, most often on rails, to a position where they can more comfortably take a shower. Some shower transfer benches have swivel chairs to add to the user’s convenience.

Typical features include a safety belt and a handle that can be attached to either side of the seat.

Another type of shower transfer seat is a wall-mounted shower seat that swings into the shower. First, the user transfers onto the seat from outside the shower. Then the chair swivels into the shower. When their shower is finished, the user swivels back out of the shower.

Specialty shower seats such as these help physically challenged people be comfortable when taking a shower.