Using a standard toilet can be one of the most challenging and worrisome elements of the bathroom for senior citizens. The bathroom, in general, is the most dangerous room in the house for seniors; it has many slippery surfaces, sharp edges, and involves a lot of motion to utilize correctly. For many seniors living at home, there isn't an easily accessible bathroom on the main level of their home, or close to the bedroom for nighttime use.
Using the bathroom requires seniors to shift their weight, and move from a seated to standing position, which can cause them to lose their balance quickly. Additionally, many medications and diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s can affect balance, making it even harder for seniors to control their balance at the toilet.
Safety concerns with using the toilet include:
- Mobility: Aging leads to decreased mobility, strength, and flexibility in the joints. Loss of these things makes sitting and standing at the toilet a challenge.
- Balance: The act of sitting and standing at the toilet puts the body in an unbalanced position- which can increase the chances of slipping and falling easier.
- Strength: A regular toilet is slightly lower than the normal seated position. It may not be difficult for seniors to sit down onto the toilet; they often do not have the strength to lift their bodies back up to a standing position.
Elderly bathroom options that improve toilet safety:
- Raised Toilet Seats- These toilet seats fit onto an existing toilet to raise the seat height to a comfortable and convenient level. They can come with or without armrests, and some can be installed or locked onto the toilet for added stability.
- Toilet Safety Rails- Toilet safety rails fit around the toilet to provide safe and sturdy grip handles for users to hold onto while sitting and standing at the toilet. They can be installed to the toilet or be a stand-alone design.
- Grab Bars- Installing grab bars on the walls near the toilet to provide a sturdy handle for seniors to use while sitting and standing at the toilet.
- Commodes- Commode chairs can be used at the toilet or in other rooms of the home to make the bathroom more accessible. Portable commodes can increase mobility, as well.
When is a commode best?
Commodes are designed for anyone who struggles with strength, balance, and endurance. Commodes are a great safety option for any older adult because they act as portable toilets and provide the convenience of bringing the toilet to them anywhere in the home. A commode can be beneficial for seniors who have difficulty reaching the bathroom safely at night time, or for those who do not have a bathroom available on the same level as the home. Using a commode in the bedroom can allow seniors the dignity and privacy of being able to use the bathroom whenever they need to and without assistance.
Many commodes also provide cost savings to seniors because they can serve many purposes. Several commode designs allow the commodes to be used as a bedside commode, a raised toilet seat, and also a toilet safety frame. By purchasing one piece of equipment, seniors can maximize their dollar and safety. Plus, unlike bathroom safety products, commodes MAY be Medicare reimbursable