Standing for awhile in the shower or bending over to lather can be hard on people who are ill or recovering from surgery or those who have physical disabilities, says Valerie Ulene, MD, medical director and co-founder of Boom Home Medical.
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This slippery space can also be challenging for older adults, as balance problems are more common with age, according to the National Institute on Aging. The bathroom is a common location for falls, which are the second leading cause of unintentional injury death around the world, per the World Health Organization.
That's where shower chairs come in. "Shower chairs provide a stable place to sit," Dr. Ulene says. Plus, they can make "washing up an enjoyable and safe experience."
The Best Shower Chairs of 2022
- Best Shower Chair With Arms: Essential Medical Supply Shower and Bath Bench with Arms and Back ($47.95; Amazon)
- Best Shower Chair With Wheels: Showerbuddy 100% Aluminum Folding Travel Shower Chair ($289; Amazon)
- Best Small Shower Chair: Ez2care Adjustable Lightweight Shower Bench ($33; Amazon)
- Best Shower Chair for Older Adults: DMI Rolling Shower Chair ($70.25; Amazon)
- Best Multipurpose Shower Chair: Fields Outdoor Supplies Deluxe Rolling Shower Chair With Drop Arms ($514.95; Amazon)
- Best Swivel Shower Chair: Gateway Premium Sliding Bath Transfer Bench with Swivel Seat-Padded ($229; Amazon)
How We Chose
We spoke with doctors to determine the benefits of using a shower chair and tips for how to find the right match for your individual needs. When selecting our picks, we kept the following criteria in mind:
- Weight Capacity
- Overall design and function
Best Shower Chair With Arms: Essential Medical Supply Shower and Bath Bench With Arms and Back
Having arms on a shower chair can make it easier to lower your body into the seat and push out of it when you're done washing up. This sturdy shower chair from Essential Medical Supply features padded, removable arms.
In addition to being easy to clean (and thus, prevent mold), the added cushion makes it more comfortable to sit for a long period of time. Plus, the height of this shower chair is adjustable. It has a weight limit of 300 pounds.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $47.95
Best Shower Chair With Wheels: Showerbuddy 100% Aluminum Folding Travel Shower Chair
If you have limited mobility, a shower chair with wheels can be convenient — that way, you can disrobe in your bedroom, roll into the bathroom, take your shower and roll back to your bedroom to get dressed for the day without having to get up and down, or transfer yourself from a wheelchair to the shower chair.
This shower chair with a plush memory foam seat allows you to roll with ease. It comes with fixed arms, a brake, a removable footrest and various positions, dependent on height and comfort.
This shower chair features stainless steel parts and an aluminum frame to prevent rust and can also be used as a commode bucket with a lid. If you need to take your shower chair on a trip, it's also ideal since it can be broken down and folded up for transport.
The weight limit for this chair is 265 pounds.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $289
Best Small Shower Chair: Ez2care Adjustable Lightweight Shower Bench
Small spaces call for small everything, including a shower chair.
This stripped-down option could be ideal for a small shower stall, or for anyone who anticipates only requiring a shower seat for a short period of time. Once you use a shower chair, you might find a lot of benefits, even if your moment of need is brief. Shower chairs can encourage you to slow down, Dr. Ulene says — that's helpful for someone who needs recovery time while training for a marathon. Plus, a shower chair can make certain tasks (think: shaving your legs) easier and safer.
This shower chair features an anti-slip seat surface with drainage holes to prevent water build-up, rust and mold. Though it's smaller than others, it can hold up to 250 pounds and has heavy-duty, adjustable anodized aluminum legs for support. The feet feature a slip-resistant rubber, so it'll stay put as you sit.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $33
Best Shower Chair for Older Adults: DMI Rolling Shower Chair
As a hospitalist, Eric Tam, MD, a physician at Mighty Health, has seen numerous older adults come into the hospital with a fracture or broken bone due to falls. Every year, 25 percent of adults over the age of 65 fall, adding up to 3 million emergency room visits for treatment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Most falls occur in the bathroom, which is why shower chairs are so important, Dr. Tam says. "Such a simple intervention can make a world of difference as we know that falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths and hospital emergency department visits in this population."
Many of the shower chairs on our list are appropriate and beneficial for older adults, but our top pick is this one from DMI. It moves easily in and out of the shower, fits over a standard-size toilet and can also be used a wheelchair. The multi-purpose design, the rave reviews and the access to the perineal area make it a smart one-time investment.
The weight capacity for this chair is 250 pounds.
Best Multipurpose Shower Chair: Fields Outdoor Supplies Deluxe Rolling Shower Chair With Drop Arms
This shower chair from Field Outdoor Supplies is sturdy, easy to maneuver and rolls well on any flooring, from vinyl and tile to carpet. It includes brakes to help it stay put, along with a seatbelt. The chair has a rectangular pail for bathroom use. The commode pail is removable for easy clean-up.
The added footrest puts less stress on the feet and helps to keep them in place during and after a shower. This combo shower-commode chair holds up to 300 pounds.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $514.95
Some shower chairs offer advantageous special features, Dr. Ulene says. Take this Gateway shower chair, which has a swivel seat. "For individuals with extremely limited mobility, for example, shower chairs with swivel seats make getting in and out of the shower easier," Dr. Ulene says.
Make sure to measure before you order since it is on the bigger side, and you want to ensure it'll fit in your space. The seat height is adjustable, and there's padding on both the seat and the backrest.
Note: This product line is often used in hospitals and nursing homes. The weight capacity for this shower chair is 330 pounds.
What to Look for in a Shower Chair
When shopping for a shower chair for your specific needs, Dr. Ulene recommends starting by looking at the chair's overall size.
"A chair that's too large may not fit through your shower door or could leave you with too little space to move about in your shower," she says. "A chair that's too small, on the other hand, might be uncomfortable or even unsafe to sit on."
Next, look at how high the chair seat sits off the ground. Ideally, for balance, Dr. Ulene says both of your feet should be able to rest securely on the ground. If a shower chair has a footrest, you can measure how high it comes off the ground so you can also sit comfortably.
Consider looking for seats with an adjustable height.
Most shower chairs will come standard with rubberized feet, aluminum legs and a durable plastic seat with back support, Dr. Tam says. "The rubberized feet are essential for grip and preventing sliding," he says. "Aluminum and plastic construction allows for these chairs to be lighter in weight for easy movement."
For stability and safety, Dr. Ulene says you need to consider the chair's weight capacity. "Although many shower chairs can accommodate 300 pounds or more, some aren't designed to support that much weight," she says.
"A traditional shower chair consists of a seat, a back, armrests and four legs and looks a lot like a regular chair," Dr. Ulene says. But, for people who require less support, a chair with a seat only (no back or arm rests) or a shower stool may be sufficient, she adds.
Is this an emergency? If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, please see the National Library of Medicine’s list of signs you need emergency medical attention or call 911.