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.
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.
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.
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 issue is the transition from a scooter or wheelchair to the commode, then a floor to ceiling transfer pole might be just the ticket. This sturdy pole doesn’t take up a lot of room in the bathroom and is adjustable for the exact support you need.
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.