Showers can be converted to handicapped showers by the addition of grab bars, a seat or bench, and a detachable shower head/hose. The biggest challenge of this project will be the shower pan itself, as it must be level with the floor for easy access.
The most important aspect of a handicapped shower is its accessibility to the handicapped person. To be easily accessible, the floor of the shower stall should be level with the floor of the room. The person should not be required to step or climb over any barrier, no matter how small. If the handicapped person is in a wheelchair, he should be able to easily access the shower stall in his wheelchair as long as the floor of the shower stall is the same level as the floor in the bathroom and the opening to the shower stall is adequate (wide enough for wheelchair access).
There are shower pans or bases made especially for this purpose - they are called "barrier free" shower bases. And, they are designed so that they are leak proof and easy to install. Perfect for the do it yourselfer. However if you are replacing an existing shower pan or installing a new shower and you feel this is beyond your capabilities this may be one part of the project that you might want to have a professional come in and do for you.
Other important elements of the handicapped shower are grab bars and a seat for the handicapped person to sit on safely. You can purchase grab bars from most big box home stores. They should be installed securely on the shower wall. One should be installed at the entrance to the shower stall, one closer to the shower head and one by the seat in the shower.
Senior citizens and handicapped persons have a fear of falling. Therefore, providing a seat to sit on takes away this fear and gives them a sense of stability. It also requires less energy than standing when taking a shower.
There are seats or shower benches that can be installed directly to the wall of the shower (depending upon the size of your shower), and there are also portable seats that do not require any installation.
Detachable shower heads/hoses are wonderful for handicapped persons or anyone with a physical limitation. They allow the person showering to sit on the seat or bench and direct the water where she wants it. Make sure to pick a detachable shower head with a large non-slip grip handle so that it is easy for the person to grasp.
Showering is a private time as well as a time to relax. Providing a shower with easy access, grab bars, a seat or bench and a detachable shower head/hose allows a handicapped person, a senior citizen or someone who is recovering from an accident or surgery to take a relaxing shower. It also gives them a sense of self esteem and independence.