For many people, age can bring the loss of strength and balance, which makes the experience of sitting down and getting up from toilets quite difficult. There is a fall risk as a result, which can lead to detrimental injuries. There are, however, several options to help support individuals with safe toilet transfers.
Toilet Grab Bars
Grab bars, either wall- or toilet-attached, can compensate for low toilet seats and help a person safely sit down and get up from the toilet. For those who have a hard time getting up from a seated position, there are some grab bars that can support the weight of a person while also serving double duty as a toilet paper holder.
Raised Toilet Seat
Individuals with a lack of arm and leg strength or balance often have difficulty lowering themselves down to sit on a low toilet seat or rising to a standing position safely. A raised toilet seat, which raises toilet seat height by 3 to 4 inches, reduces the amount of squatting and the distance that has to be covered to sit on the toilet. Many seats are equipped with brackets or locking clamps that stabilize the seat on the toilet rim, making them easy to install.
Toilet Safety Rails
For individuals with poor balance who use the arms of a chair to sit down and get up from a chair, toilet safety rails would be a great addition for bathroom safety. The safety rails attach directly to the toilet seat and have two rails on either side—like an armchair—for maximum stability.
Commodes offer a temporary or permanent solution for individuals who have a difficult time traveling to the bathroom in a timely manner. While commode seats come with or without wheels, people who have extreme balance problems should consider a commode without wheels for additional stability and safety. Commode seats can be a replacement for the toilet or can fit over-top the existing toilet. They’re especially beneficial for people who are no longer safe walking to the bathroom at night.
For those people who need a grab bar as well as a higher toilet, consider an over-toilet adjustable commode. Often referred to as a "3-in-1 commode" or “all-in-one commode,” it serves three functions: a raised toilet seat, a toilet safety rail, and a freestanding commode for use outside the bathroom.
The bathroom can be a dangerous place for people of all ages, but older Americans are more vulnerable to falls and injuries. Taking the necessary steps to make the bathroom a safer place for you and your loved ones can end up saving your body and your wallet down the line.
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Rein Tideiksaar Ph.D., PA-C (or Dr. Rein as he is commonly referred to) is the president of FallPrevent, LLC, Blackwood, N.J., a consulting company that provides educational, legal and marketing services related to fall prevention in the elderly. Dr. Tideiksaar is a gerontologist (healthcare professional who specializes in working with elderly patients) and a geriatric physician's assistant. Check out Dr. Rein’s professional profile on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/dr-rein/6/759/592. If you have any questions about preventing falls, please feel free to email Dr. Rein at firstname.lastname@example.org.