Toilet Equipment To Help With Assisted Toileting
97% of people stay in their home as they get older, and simple equipment can help make a huge difference to their quality of life. In this article we provide information on one very important but personal area – toilet equipment to help with assisted toileting.
As a physiotherapist with experience in later life rehabilitation (find out more about that here), Nancy at ElWell has recommended many of these products, seeing first hand the benefit to independent living that they can bring people as they get older.
Please note, this article isn’t about incontinence. It’s intended for people who have control over their bladder and bowels, but have a physical difficulty with toileting.
We hope you find the article useful – and if you do want us to write more on this topic, or incontinence then get in touch and let us know.
- Toilet Equipment To Help With Assisted Toileting
- Why Toilet Aids Can Help As We Get Older
- Think About Adaptive Clothing
- Difficulty Getting On and Off the Toilet
- Bathroom Grab Rails
- Toilet Frame
- Raised Toilet Seats (also known as a Toilet Raise)
- Bidet Toilet Attachment
- Bidet Toilet
- Different Types Of Commode
- Having An Open Conversation
- FAQs About Toilet Equipment To Help With Assisted Toileting
Why Toilet Aids Can Help As We Get Older
On average, we go to the toilet seven times a day. And for some people, that can be seven times when they can’t get up from the toilet or struggle to remove items of clothing.
This can have an emotional impact and cause a huge amount of stress around going to the toilet.
If you’re worried about your own or your parent’s toilet habits, then read on for the toilet aids and equipment we recommend to help with assisted toileting. And you could also be interested in our article on wash and dry toilets.
Think About Adaptive Clothing
As we get older, it can be harder to quickly and easily undo the requisite buttons and open zips (and do them back up again). This is because we can lose dexterity in our hands, meaning we have less co-ordination between the small muscles in our hands and fingers. People with osteoarthritis in their hands may also find this.
An easy solution is adaptive clothing with hidden velcro fastenings (such as trousers with velcro instead of the button or fly). We have actually been using velcro trousers to great effect for one of our clients so we know it works!
If you want to DIY, you should be able to afix the velcro easily enough to a current pair of trousers.
Alternatively, there are adaptive clothing options available. The Able Label has a wide range of adaptive clothing for men and women. You would never guess that their stylish clothes have hidden fastenings and fake buttons to make it getting dressed and undressed easier. They have trousers with velcro zips, wrap skirts and dresses, super absorbent washable brief knickers, nigthwear and more.
If your loved one struggles to do clothing up after using the toilet, then we would recommend that women wear skirts instead of trousers to make the process easier.
Men can try shuffling from side to side sat down and keep pulling their trousers up.
If they find this a challenge however, we recommend you book with an appointment with a local occupational therapist who can best advise you and them.
Difficulty Getting On and Off the Toilet
Here is a selection of equipment that can help with assisted toileting.
Bathroom Grab Rails
Grab rails (or bars) are inexpensive and easy to fit, and can make a real difference to how independent someone can be.
In the bathroom, fix the grab rail to the wall on a diagonal slant forwards from top to bottom so the top is closest to you. By doing this and not placing it vertically on the wall, it encourages the user to come forwards, gives them better grip at different heights and also lets them place more weight through it.
Men who struggle with balance but are still able to stand up at the toilet may find it useful to have a vertical bar on the wall next to them or in front of them to steady themselves. They would however need to have enough balance alone to do their fly or zip up (unless they used adaptive clothing as above).
We’d always recommend plastic fluted rails instead of stainless steel. They might not look as pretty, but they have better grip (especially important in the bathroom where hands may be wet).
Check out these rails which come in a variety of sizes – 12 inches, 18 inches, 24 inches.
Over half of all falls amongst older people happen in the bathroom, and many of them can be avoided. We’re not going to start going into details on falls here (but if you want to read more about falls prevention, click here) and instead will focus on solutions!
A toilet frame does exactly as the name suggests – it sits around the toilet to provide support. It has two arms which you can use for support as you lower yourself down, and to push yourself back up.
They are width adjustable and will fit all standard toilets. You don’t need to screw the frame in and it can be easily moved when not in use and transported (although you can fix it to the floor fairly easily if it’s going to be permanent).
There are different types you can buy depending on need and budget.
We like this one from NRS which is the official equipment supplier for the NHS too.
A foldable toilet frame could be an option if other people use the bathroom too or if you need to be able to easily transport it.
This version comes with padded arm rests and a padded foot rest that is flush to the floor. It’s more expensive but could be better suited to your needs. It’s from Homecraft, you can either click here to see it or click the image below.
Raised Toilet Seats (also known as a Toilet Raise)
Raised toilet seats are a great solution for people who find it difficult to sit down and stand back up again. By raising the height of the toilet, there’s less distance for them to sit down and stand up from.
Raised toilet seats can be used on all conventional toilets, they don’t look obtrusive and they’re not permanent so can be removed if not all users need it.
You can choose from a variety of different types to suit your budget and needs.
A cost effective toilet raise would be this from Homecraft which comes in three heights (2 inches, 4 inches and 6 inches).
Or if you’re looking to spend some more then we like this from Etac which comes with arms for added support and has padding for extra comfort. It raises the seat by 2.5inches, can hold weight up to 150kg and can be snapped on to the top of the toilet seat. Click here to view it – it’s more expensive but is a more supportive model.
Bidet Toilet Attachment
Bidets are a great personal care solution for people who want to stay independent but have poor standing balance, are in large amounts of pain or have restricted movement range.
Aside from the ease and hygiene factor, an extra bonus is the eco benefit of the bidet toilet. Less need for paper means you’re helping the environment as well as yourself!
Bidet toilets have moved on from the standalone style that you may be familiar with in older bathrooms. Instead, there are bidet attachments which can be fitted to conventional toilets.
These come in a variety of styles (which would be based on personal preference and budget). Some bidet attachments can warm the seat, use cold and hot water, and have adjustable pressure. We like this one but have a look on Amazon or speak with a bathroom supplier as there are lots on the market at competitive rates.
You would likely want a handyman to help with the fitting but it’s a straightforward job.
Watching this video may help you understand more – it’s American and for a brand, but shows you what an attachment looks like and how easily it can be fitted to make a bidet toilet.
If you’re investing in a new bathroom, you may be interested in buying a combined bidet toilet which comes as one already together. It looks like a conventional toilet and has in-built washing facilities.
What Is A Commode?
A commode is a moveable toilet that does not use running water. It looks like a chair with a toilet seat and a container underneath.
A bedside commode can really help people stay independent by reducing their need to go to the bathroom during the night. They’re especially useful if frequency of toilet trips at night is high (saving on time, effort and fatigue), or if people are prone to falling.
Different Types Of Commode
A static commode, like this one, stays in the same place (no wheels). It is usually suitable for someone if they’re independent during the day and just need the commode for assisted toileting help at night.
For a more expensive version with greater functionality (adjustable leg height, more padding, arm removal for side transfers), there’s the Etac Swift Commode Chair. You can see the two versions in the images below.
It’s worth considering commodes with wheels for someone who already has a package of care – the wheels may be a great help on days when it is harder to move about, or if their condition could decrease. Make sure the wheels work with the flooring in their house or apartment, and take their weight. If you’re considering commodes with wheels, this can be a good place to start
Commodes can be a necessary and helpful piece of toilet equipment to help with assisted toileting – but they are usually more functional than decorative.
However, it is possible to find stylish commodes chairs which have a discreet in-built commode, covered by the seat cover. These can be a good idea if you or your loved one needs a commode in other rooms e.g. the living room too. We like these two:
If you’ve got someone coming to stay with you who may need a commode, then a folding commode could be a good investment. The capacity varies depending on the brand, but is usually around five litres, and it easily folds down into place. It has arm rests for extra support and can easily be transported, or put away. If you want to buy one, we recommend this NRS Viva Medi Folding Commode. It’s the same one that is demonstrated in the video below.
Watch this video here:
Having An Open Conversation
We understand that this is a sensitive conversation to have with your parents, and they may not want to entertain it at first. Make sure you listen to their concerns and ideas on what could help them, and discuss all suggestions together. Choosing a toilet aid, instead of feeling forced into it, can help them accept it and then see the benefit.
As we get older, the pedestrian task of going to the toilet can get much harder. And when we’re going to the toilet on average seven times a day that can become a real worry for people.
With this article, we’ve rounded up a range of toilet equipment to help with assisted toileting so that we can help you understand what products are out there and what could be suitable for you or a loved one.
These aren’t necessarily high-ticket items and the emotional and physical benefit they can provide to independent living and quality of life is huge.
We hope you find it useful, and as ever, leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts. Good luck.
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FAQs About Toilet Equipment To Help With Assisted Toileting
On average, we go to the toilet seven times a day. And for some people, that can be seven times when they can’t get up from the toilet or struggle to remove items of clothing. Toilet aids and equipment can help make this daily process easier and less stressful.
There’s a range of toilet aids and equipment available. Toilet frames and toilet raises provide extra support, there are commodes if people are unable to get to the toilet easily, and bidet attachments can be attached to the toilet to help with hygiene. The market is growing, and new products are constantly being added. Read our article for an in-depth look at your options.