One of the least known, but most helpful tools in the home safety toolbelt is the underrated bath bench. This broad bath seat is as useful as it is awkward shaped and confusing to those who don’t know it’s intended purpose. Contrary to popular belief, this device is not meant to just offer a broader space to bathe than the shower chair.
The bath bench’s purpose is related to the difficulty many older adults have with lifting their legs over a shower threshold or up over a tub’s side to step into the bathing area. Many older adults use wheelchairs, walkers, or canes because they have difficulty with mobility and balance. The bath bench eliminates the need to step up and over anything. The bench simply bridges the divide by sitting partially outside the tub or shower and mostly inside, enabling a person with less lower extremity strength or balance ability to simply sit outside the bathing area before rotating their legs over the threshold and sliding to the center of the tub or shower.
The bath bench eliminates the fall risk of awkwardly balancing on one leg while stepping into the bathing area allowing an individual to bathe in comfort. The question that is often posed once this product is purchased is, “won’t the water go everywhere since the shower curtain can’t hang inside the tub?” It’s a fair question, and one with a very simple solution. Once inside the tub, simply lean slightly to one side before sliding the curtain underneath one’s bottom where the bench crosses outside the tub. The water will stay in the tub and prevent a slippery mess on the bathroom floor.
Another common question with regard to bath benches is the height of the legs. While each leg of the bath bench is adjustable, often the heights of the bathroom floor and tub/shower area may differ. The bath bench is built this way to allow for you to adjust the legs so that the bench is as level as possible even though the different areas are not.
This foundational tool is utilitarian to the less mobile among us!