shower bench

Shower Bench

Product Guide and Recommendations

A shower bench is great for reducing the risk of falls when getting into and out of the bathtub.

It is one of the bathroom products for the elderly that I recommend quite a bit.

Though often called a shower bench, this device is used in the bathtub to take a shower and is also called a bath bench.

They are set up with two legs outside of the tub and two legs inside of the tub.

The legs inside the tub need to be shorter than the legs outside the tub to make sure the top of the bench is level.

This allows elderly to sit down from outside the tub, swing their legs into the bathtub in sitting, and shift over into the bathtub in sitting as well.

Voila, they are in the bathtub without having had to lift their legs up and over the edge of the tub in standing - a major cause of falls in the bathroom.

Who Should Use?

Elderly with balance, strength or endurance issues.

Bath benches are helpful for people who feel unsafe when lifting their legs up and over the side of the tub when getting into and out of the bathtub.

This position of balancing on one foot while lifting a leg over a high surface is very risky for seniors.

Quite a few falls in the bathroom are caused during this movement.

Who Should NOT Use?

Small Spaces:

Seniors with small bathrooms often find shower benches too large. They might even interfere with moving on and off another surface safely, such as the toilet.

In this case, a shower board might do the trick.

Decreased Flexibility:

Elderly with limited ability to bend at the knees or hips sometimes find a shower bench difficult to use.

In this case, I've still had success with them by removing the backrest as this gives them more room to lean backward and lift a straight leg into the tub.

Recommended Features

shower bench

  1. Height adjustable
  2. The main benefits of bath benches over shower boards are that they have backrests and are height adjustable. Having a taller surface makes getting up from sitting easier. Backrests can provide a bit more support to people that fatigue easily.

  3. Made of materials durable in wet areas
  4. A bath bench is usually made of plastic and a metal such as aluminum.

  5. Versatile
  6. A bath bench is set up for a specific bathtub, depending on whether the taps are on the right or left. Having a bathtub bench where the handle and backrest can be moved around means that it can be used in different bathtubs if the set-up is different.

    This can be handy if it will be used at another relative's house when visiting or if a senior moves.


shower bench

As mentioned above, most benches can have the handles moved from side to side by removing bolts. Or the backrest can be pulled on and off and put on the other way.

Bath benches might also have the following accessories:

  • Handle: most benches come with a handle on the far side
  • Padded: some come padded for increased comfort or if pressure sores are a worry
  • Hand held shower head cut-out: a cut out so the hand held shower can be placed beside them for ease of use
  • Shower curtain guide: some models come with a slit to guide your shower curtain in place
  • Commode style: a few bath benches can come in commode-style, ie. there is an open space under the peri-area for cleaning
  • Suction cups: some types come with suction cups on the feet that are inside of the tub to keep them in place

How to Fit

shower bench

Bath benches fit the best in the standard rectangular shaped bathtubs.

I have had a few instances when they did not fit in bathtubs including the very tall spa-like bathtubs or those of an odd shape such as an oval. They also don't fit if there is a large built up space beside the tub edge.

Fitting the bath bench:

  1. Check which side the taps are on when facing the bathtub:
    • If the taps are on the right, you will get a bench with the handle on the left.
    • If the taps are on the left, you will get a bench with the handle on the right.
  2. Adjust the height of the bath bench. The feet inside the bathtub will be shorter than those outside the tub:
    • Adjust the feet outside the tub so that the bench is level with these two feet on the ground.
    • Adjust the feet inside the tub so that they are on the floor of the tub with the bench seat level.
  3. Check the height for your elderly parent:
    • If possible, you want the height so that the senior's feet are on the floor and their knees are at just above 90 degrees when sitting in the bathtub. This may mean they are perched a bit when sitting on the edge of the bench from outside the bathtub.
    • The bath bench has to be high enough to be level with two feet inside the bathtub and two feet outside of the bathtub.
    • From here, the height can be adjusted higher if your elderly parent is tall and needs a higher surface to get up from the bench or stand up in the shower.
  4. The bath bench should be moved back far enough from the taps that your elderly parent can get their legs into and out of the tub but close enough they can reach the hand held shower head or the shower taps.

Weight Capacity: Check the weight capacity to make sure it will best support your elderly parent.

How to Use

shower bench

Have your elderly parent:

  1. Back up so that the outer part of the shower bench is behind them
  2. Sit down, being careful to be in the centre of the part of the shower bench sticking out
  3. Move their legs over beside the outside of the bathtub (this will usually involve sitting with one leg on one side of the front corner and one leg on the other side of the front corner)
  4. Lift the closest leg up and over the bathtub edge in sitting
  5. Shift over slightly if needed
  6. Lift the other leg up and over the bathtub edge in sitting
  7. Holding the handle on the inside edge of the bath bench, use it as a sliding transfer bench and shift their bottom over in sitting until they are in the centre of the bathtub (their feet should be on the floor)

How to manage the shower curtain:

My best advice on managing the shower curtain so the bathroom doesn't get wet is to bring it up to the bath bench, pull it across the bench and tuck it under the senior's bottom. It can still usually be pulled back a little bit and this works to keep the water in the tub.

Some elderly have purchased two shower curtains and will pull one up to the front of the bench and then pull another from behind and tuck this one under their bottom.

How Much Do They Cost?

Shower benches range from $50 - $200.


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