As we age, it becomes more difficult to squat and rise. The muscles in our legs lose their strength. Injury can also cause more problems with conducting our daily activities. Adapting your toilet to accommodate the eventuality of aging might mean selecting the proper toilet height for seniors in addition to other modifications to the home for aging.
What are the Measurements of a Regular Toilet?
The average toilet is between 14 and 15 inches from the floor without the toilet seat. Including the tank, the back height is between 21 to 31 inches. Lengthwise, a standard toilet is between 27 and 30 inches. Traditionally, toilets have round bowls. In recent years, it is more common to see oval or elongated bowls. Both elongated and round toilets tend to be about 20 inches wide.
What is the Proper Toilet Seat Height for Seniors?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) indicates that toilets must be between 17 and 19 inches from the floor, including the seat. It should be high enough so that sitting and standing are not excessively difficult. Both feet should rest flat on the floor. If your feet dangle, you may begin to feel numbness, pain, or tingling in your legs. A step stool will help if you are too short for your commode.
It’s also important to remember that it’s easier to have a complete bowel movement if you are slightly squatting with your hips slightly lower than your needs. Consider investing in a step stool to position your body more naturally if you have problems with constipation.
Comfort Height Toilets
Comfort Height toilets are about the same height as an average dining room chair. This type of commode is also called universal height or right height toilet, depending on the manufacturer. Comfort height toilets come both in round and elongated styles.
If it’s not in the budget to replace your toilet, you might consider a toilet riser. This gadget fits under the toilet base and raises the entire thing several inches. It’s a more stable alternative to plastic toilet seat risers.
- Easy installation - all the hardware required is included. Discreet and durable as it sits under the existing toilet base
- Toilevator raises the entire toilet making it more stable and secure than traditional elevated plastic toilet seats
Taller Toilets for the Elderly
Some seniors will benefit from having a taller toilet. If you use a wheelchair, you should install a toilet about the same height as your wheelchair’s seat. It will make it easier to transfer between the two.
Wheelchair accessibility might also mean you choose a wall-mounted toilet rather than the standard design. This type of commode can be as high as 28 inches. However, keep in mind that this type of toilet will need a special carrier system installed inside the bathroom wall.
A less expensive option is to adapt your current model using a toilet seat riser with handrails. Risers tend to be able to accommodate most toilets and can add up to five inches in height. Some handles are adjustable for just the right sizing.
- ADDED 5" in HEIGHT: The Toilet Safety Seat raises the toilet commode by 5 inches. The elevated toilet seat with foam padded arms makes it safer and easier to sit or stand while using the toilet.
- ADJUSTABLE WIDTH ARMS: The two handles are adjustable in width to conform both narrow and wide body types. The width can be expanded from 18.5" to 21.5". The arms are removable and padded with a soft foam that provides soft grip but nonslip for safety and stability.
Is a Round or Elongated Toilet Better for Seniors?
Elongated toilets take up more space in the bathroom; however, elongated toilets offer more sitting area. If your bathroom is smaller, it makes sense to go with a round bowl. A round bowl will give you extra maneuvering space if you use a walker, scooter, or wheelchair.
Many adults find them more comfortable. The sloped angle inside the bowel can prevent splashback, a feature many men appreciate. You’ll have to decide which option works best for you when deciding on either a round or elongated bowl design.
Toilet Alternatives and Accessories for Seniors
You may not need to replace your entire toilet or remodel your bathroom. If getting up and down is becoming more difficult, a toilet rail grab bar might help. This device provides support with adjustable height bars and anti-slip tips.
Perhaps the best solution of all might just be using a raised toilet seat. This is fast, effective, portable, and less costly than installing a new toilet.
- TOILET SEAT ELEVATOR -- ELONGATED. A toilet seat riser that that installs under your existing toilet seat for added personal comfort. Fits Most elongated Toilet bowls.
- ADDS 3.5 INCHES TO THE TOILET SEAT HEIGHT. A 3.5 raised toilet seat that is also very comfortable. The toilet seat helps senior and handicap sit or get up from toilet easily
If reduced mobility is making clean-up challenging, then a Long Reach Comfort Wipe toilet aid will help. With this assistance device, you’ll be able to reach those hard to reach places better. Another option is to have a bidet installed on your toilet. Not only does using a bidet reduce the amount of toilet paper or wipes you use daily, but it prevents pipe clogging.
If you or a loved one will only need a raised toilet for a short period of time, such as after surgery, then it’s hard to justify the expense of having a taller toilet installed. A bedside commode chair might be a better investment in this case. Some commode chairs can be used as a bedside toilet when needed. When proximity to the bed is no longer an issue, the same apparatus can be taken apart and used as a safety frame and raised toilet seat.
If the need is for a larger toilet seat, then that’s something that can be purchased separately and installed with ease on standard toilets. Typically, these larger seats also are about 2 inches higher than regular ones. They come in open front and closed rim models and are about 19 inches wide.
Senior men might do better with a low wall-mounted urinal. Don’t forget to install grab bars for added safety. If a urinal is cost-prohibitive, there are funnels that can turn your standard toilet into a urinal for less mess.
Toilet Height for Seniors Summary
No matter what type of accommodations you or your loved one needs, there are options available to maintain independence as long as possible as we age. Seat or toilet risers can be installed and uninstalled with ease. Support bars require a little more effort but can make the difference between helplessness and control for the senior in your life.
Comfort height toilets are the next step in bathroom alterations. Remember to have a step stool on hand to reduce constipation issues. Toilet aids such as bidets or toilet paper wipe extender wands allow for unassisted completion and retain a sense of personal autonomy. Don’t be afraid to try different options until you hit upon the right combo.
Feature photo by rashid khreiss on Unsplash.
Short seniors need lower toilets. Tall toilets put too much pressure on legs and sciatic nerve.
Need information on availability of ada toilets
I’m guessing most toilets will do. ADA probably has more to do with grab bars around the toilet, etc. FMI: https://www.ada.gov/2010ADAstandards_index.htm
You could consider mentioning toilet lifts. These are electric lifts that allow people sit be seated low, but to easily stand up. Toilet Lifts help people who have difficulty getting up from the toilet.
At one time, this question would have been embarrassing. Now that I’m seventy-six, little embarrasses me. That said, I’m hoping the person reading this is an elderly male. Reading information about toilets for seniors, I see many measurements; however, the distance from the top of the bowl to the water is not included. In the last number of years, my testicles have dropped to the point where I must hold them up to keep them from connecting with the water when I sit on the toilet. Are you able to offer any advice? I have just reviewed the specs for a 21″ elongated seat model. Am I going in the right direction?
I’m not sure I can fully answer the question, but the parts inside the tank responsible for the water filling may have an adjustment to set how much water goes into the bowl. Basically by adjusting the floating device it should set the amount of water. The lower the floating device the less water will go into the tank and thus the less water that will go into the bowl. The only problem with that might be if there is too little water/pressure in the tank to flush solids.