How a Transfer Bench Makes Senior Living Easier

by Bethany
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The journey of aging brings about a myriad of challenges and roadblocks. Even if some daily assistance is needed, most seniors would still prefer to receive care in their own homes. Designing – or redesigning – the physical environment to facilitate wellness and self-reliance is connected with peace of mind and independence. One way you can meet the challenges head on is to create optimal circumstances in your home to prolong healthy, independent living. Aging brings increasing muscle and joint stiffness as well as changes in balance, which can increase the likelihood of falls or other injuries.

How a Transfer Bench Makes Senior Living Easier

When facing mobility issues related to aging, the goal is to feel competent and in control of your surroundings. Avoiding falls is crucial to healthy senior living and the bathroom is where more falls happen than anywhere else in the house (think slick surfaces and moisture.) A mobility bench can make your life easier and help you avoid falls by providing assistance when transferring in or out of a tub or shower area. A transfer bench allows you to maneuver yourself independently or with less assistance than would otherwise be possible.

What is a Transfer Bench?

A bath transfer bench is a mobility aid that provides assistance as you maneuver yourself in or out of a tub or shower area. Standing while showering requires a certain level of dexterity, stamina, equilibrium and strength. If any of these functions are lacking, a bath bench will allow you to diminish risk and reserve your energy. The bench straddles the side of the tub or the lip of the shower. The user gradually slides from the outside to the inside of the bathing area, thus avoiding a precarious step in a slippery, damp environment.

Once you are seated, it’s only a matter of raising each leg over the tub threshold and sliding into the shower stall. Some transfer benches are designed to double as a bath seat or chair so that you never have to sit down in the tub. Some benches feature removable arm rests that act as a guard rail or grab bar when lowering or rising from the bench. The benches usually feature an ergonomically designed seat and back rest, providing added comfort and ease of use. You will find the bathing experience to be more relaxing and less stressful with a stable place to sit.

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Who Needs a Transfer Bench?

Anyone who has balance, strength or mobility issues can benefit from a bath transfer bench. People who have a poor gait, use prescription drugs or suffer from eye diseases that affect depth perception will also benefit. A bathing bench is crucial in maintaining privacy and independence as much as possible. Many seniors are looking for simple solutions to mobility problems. A bench can prevent falls without having to drill into bathroom tiles or take on a major bathroom renovation. A bench is particularly suitable for a person who can perform most activities of daily living without great effort, but need assistance to enhance safety and accessibility.

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Why Transfer Benches are Popular with Seniors

As previously stated, a transfer bench is wholly appropriate for a person who needs extra help to prevent falls and maintain independence. Some seniors may avoid routine hygiene tasks because they are afraid of falling in an unsafe bathroom setting. A bath bench is popular with seniors because it adds a layer of protection when executing the routine and necessary task of bathing oneself. Additionally, the bath bench has become popular with seniors because – like any other age group – you want to enjoy a shower privately and securely. The wide variety of models makes selecting the perfect bench effortless and uncomplicated.

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Where to Buy a Transfer Bench

A bench can be purchased in a variety of different retail stores. Drug store chains and Amazon carry lower-end bench models with various features and weight limitations. Home improvement websites such as Home Depot and Lowes offer an assortment of benches. Their product listings are particularly helpful because they offer specifications and dimensions, product reviews and a Q & A based on questions customers just like you have asked about the product. A local medical supply store could be a good place to start shopping because the staff will be better informed and you can take your bench for a test drive. If you are considering redesigning your bathroom for “aging in place” purposes, a residential contractor who specializes in senior services can point you to higher-end, permanently mounted benches that are often made of beautiful teak wood.

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Cost of Transfer Benches

The price of transfer benches range from $50 to $300. A standard plastic bench with one adjustable arm can be purchased on the Amazon website for $50.88. The CVS pharmacy website lists a sliding bath transfer bench with a swivel seat for $283. A local medical supply store nearby offers an aluminum non-sliding bench for $259. If you are a Medicaid or Medicare recipient, a durable medical supply establishment can help with you filing insurance forms to reduce or eliminate the cost of your bench. On the high-end of the transfer bench price range, a permanently mounted benches will be more expensive with the added cost of installation.

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Different Types of Transfer Benches

There are many different styles of benches. There are sliding and non-sliding styles. The sliding style allows the user to slide smoothly from one side of the bench to the other. A bench with a commode seat allows you to slide from the commode to the bathing area without having to stand up. Some seats are padded while some are plastic. Many designs offer a swivel seat, arm rests and seat belts. If ordering online, the huge array of bench choices makes it especially important to pay attention to weight limitations, seat height/width/depth and product weight and materials. Keep in mind that, for health reasons, returns and exchanges may not be possible. Do your research and choose wisely.

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Storing a Transfer Bench

If you share a bathroom with someone who doesn’t require a bench when bathing, it is important that your bench be easy to maneuver. Many bench styles will fold flat for transport and storage. An advantage to purchasing a lightweight model is that it can be stored in a bathroom closet or under a bed for quick access. Another benefit is the option to take it on vacations and trips away from home. On most folding models, it is a simple process of collapsing and folding the legs under the bench when you are ready to store it.