If you are elderly, physically disabled, or handicapped, getting in and out of the shower can often times be a real hassle for you, or at other times, almost completely impossible. The good news for you is that there are now solutions to this problem, as more and more shower manufacturers are investing time and money into producing shower stalls that you can more easily get into. They understand the difficulties that you have because of your age or disability, and know that you require a more convenient shower entry option.
Basically, handicap accessible shower stalls do away with the high lip entry that is standard in most showers. By getting rid of this step, the shower floor is then either level with the bathroom floor or is at a small slope (about 2%).
This flat or barrier free shower entry allows seniors and people with limited mobility to more easily walk into their shower stall. It also allows caregivers to more easily transfer people in wheelchairs to the shower using a transfer bench or shower seat.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has published standards for this type of shower enclosure. Their standard (4.21.7) says that shower stalls that are 36 in by 36 inches (915 mm by 915 mm) should not have an entry higher than ½ an inch (13 mm). Shower stalls that are 30 inches by 60 inches (760 mm by 1525 mm) should not have any curbs at all.
You can read all the ADA standards by clicking on this ADA link and then selecting the PDF with all the standards.
There are other considerations for installing a handicap accessible shower. The shower floor should be treated with waterproof material and include a non-skid finish. These precautions can also help prevent falls. Also make sure the water controls are located at a convenient height, especially if the person using the shower will be in a wheelchair. As far as the shower door goes, a large glass door can be difficult to maneuver. Consider having no door or a moveable shower curtain.
Also, remember the location of the shower faucets. Because the person using them will be seated, they must be low enough to reach while sitting. A separate water pipe and faucet can be built in for this low height. Or a flexible showerhead that moves up and down on a vertical bar can be used. This arrangement can also be very convenient for younger children who want to use the shower.
If building or remodeling a shower to accommodate handicap access is too big a deal, think about using a waterproof shower seat, shower chair, or built-in shower bench. For people in wheelchairs, shower commode chairs or sliding transfer benches are available that allow easier access to the shower.
For more information read What Type Shower Seats are Available?
Using a handicap accessible shower can provide seniors, the disabled and physically challenged people the safety, freedom, and comfort they want when taking a shower.