Rub a Dub Dub, Devices for the Tub: Bath Seats

More household accidents occur in the bathroom than in any other room in the house. Hard porcelain surfaces and soapy water make bathrooms slippery places where falling can be dangerous. Older persons may have balance problems, or weak joints or muscles, which make bathing difficult.

Many products exist to help make bathing easier and safer. Bath seats are one of the most common types of bathing devices. Bath seats are good for people who have difficulty standing in the shower or sitting on the bottom of the tub. Some people prefer them simply because a seat provides a more comfortable bathing experience.

There are a variety of types of bath seats available. Most have suction cups or rubber feet that keep the chair stable in the tub and prevent scratching of the tub surface. Some seats have hand-grips, which give support to people with balance problems. Hand-grips increase safety and make it easier to remove the seat from the tub. Since most bath seats are not permanently fixed in the tub, they are easy to remove when others want to use the bathtub normally.

Bath Stools

Because bath stools are lightweight and small, they work well in narrow tubs and can be stored easily, leaving the tub empty for others to use. Stools are practical if you are able to get in and out of the tub, but have trouble sitting on the tub floor. Because stools are backless, washing your back is easy. However, they are not suitable for people who need back support. Because of the small base, stools are not very stable. Very heavy persons should not use bath stools. Stool seats come in different shapes and styles. A round-shaped bath stool is a very common design. A horseshoe shape allows people to easily clean their intimate areas. A rectangular-shaped stool gives a wide seat surface.

Bath Chairs

Unlike stools, bath chairs have a back. Some also have arm rests or side rails. These features give you additional support, helpful for heavy persons or persons with poor back strength. However, the added back does make it more difficult to was your back and other parts of the body. Some bath chairs have padded seats, which make bathing more relaxing. Be careful of seats covered with vinyl. Although vinyl is waterproof and durable, it can become slippery when covered with soap and water. It may not be suitable for people who have poor balance.

Reclining Bath Seats

People with more serious mobility and positioning problems may need the additional support offered by reclining bath seats. Standard bath chairs have a seat fixed at a 90 degree angle to the back. Reclining bath seats let you adjust the angle and height of the back and seat to fit your needs.

Tub Boards

Tub boards, which rest on the side of the tub, provide a simple, lightweight, and portable seat. Tub boards are easy to remove and store, making them useful to bring along when traveling. However, tub boards offer no back support, and may be unstable since they merely rest on the side of the tub.

Transfer Benches

Transfer benches can help if you find it extremely difficult to get into and out of the tub. Part of the seat on a transfer bench is outside the tub. Sit on the seat outside the tub, then hold the handrest and slide across the seat into the tub.

Further Information

If you are having difficulty bathing, please consult with a professional before ordering bathing devices. A professional, such as an occupational therapist, can assess your particular needs, recommend the best devices, and teach you how to properly use the devices.

Also see our online Bath Seats and Benches & Lifts booklets.

The following companies carry a selection of bath seats. Write or call for a free catalog.

Flaghouse Rehab
150 N. MacQuesten Pkwy., Ste. 92049
Mt. Vernon, NY 10550
800-793-7900

Adaptability
Dept. 2236, P.O. Box 515
Colchester, CT 06415-0515
800-266-8856

Etac
2325 Parklawn Drive, Suite J
Waukesha, WI 53186
800-678-3822