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The 5 Features You Need In a Safe Shower For Seniors

safe shower for seniors

Safety is a core concern of accessible shower design for senior living facilities and assisted living developments. Here are the top five features to keep in mind as you evaluate your shower unit options:

1. Full-Height Reinforcement (and No Wood or Cardboard!)

Many fiberglass showers are only reinforced up to a certain height along the shower back, or only in certain areas. This limits your options for accessory installation. A shower unit with a fully reinforced back is prepared for the factory or future installation of ADA compliant grab bars or foldable shower seats wherever the developer or end user prefers.

All of our showers at EverFab feature full-height reinforcement so that you always know your shower unit is going to work with your final plans for the ADA accessories that are necessary in a safe shower for seniors.

2. Built-In Storage Space Like Corner Shelves and Soap Ledges

Older residents can have trouble stooping or extending to retrieve items resting on the shower floor or outside of the stall. There is a stereotype of ADA fiberglass showers for senior living developments as plain, featureless, and Spartan units with the addition of grab bars. However, in reality there are great options for shower stalls that include soap ledges and other built-in storage spaces while still complying with ADA requirements. These convenient shelves are important in a safe shower for seniors who have limited mobility to reach and bend.

3. Minimal — But ADA Compliant — Floor Slope

Shower floor slope is a big deal in designing a safe shower for seniors. Too much slope might be great for drainage, but it can create unnecessary risks for users — especially seniors who may need greater accessibility considerations. It’s always best to keep the draft towards the drain minimal while still allowing for appropriate drainage (puddling on the shower floor creates its own safety hazard).

In an ADA compliant roll-in shower for seniors, the maximum allowable height disparity between the drain and the high point of the shower threshold is 1½”. You’re also limited to no more than ¼” of slope in the shower floor per foot between the drain and the shower perimeter. This works out to no more than an inch of slope per four feet, or a 1:48 slope ratio. 

4. A Very Low Threshold On Roll-In Showers For Seniors

Wheelchair-using residents are not only hindered by too much slope, but by the height of the threshold (if any) at the entrance of the shower unit. A safe shower for seniors should always take accessibility by seated users into consideration. By the book, shower thresholds in ADA units may not be higher than ½ an inch. 

However, a half inch threshold can also compromise the structural integrity of the floor slab in weaker unit designs, and in those cases a maximum of 2 inches is allowable under the standard. It’s always best to prioritize units with strong and purposefully designed bottoms that do meet the ½ inch (or lower) standard for maximum accessibility.

5. Strength That Exceeds ADA Requirements

The basic load-bearing requirements for ADA shower accessories like grab bars are much more modest than you might think, at just 250 pounds. Top-quality shower material composition can easily exceed the ADA standard — and should. 

Our factory and field installed grab bars exceed this limit several times over. As verified by Carlson Testing Inc (CTI), our accessories support at least double the ADA weight capacities, and one test showed that our ADA compliant grab bar was able to support up to 1,500 pounds. Prioritize durability and standard-surpassing strength in the name of safety.

Browse EverFab’s robust lineup of safe, ADA compliant shower units or contact us today to get answers to any burning questions you may have!

ADA & ANSI Product Guide