5 Ways to Make A Toilet Easier to Get On/Off

Universal/accessible design of the home from an occupational therapy and a construction perspective. This blog is part of a quest for cool, convenient, functional design that makes life safer, easier, and as maintenance-free as possible. It's about the lifestyle.



Comfort Arms
Getting on/off the toilet safely and easily is often an issue for people with mobility issues from Parkinson's disease to bad knees or a bad back.  Here are three relatively simple and inexpensive ways to make your toilet more accessible.


The most inexpensive solutions:

Toilet frame aka versa frame.


Toilet frame aka versa frame:  The toilet frame or versa frame runs about $35.00 and is a good short term solution.

Pros of toilet frame:
  • Inexpensive.
  • Easy to install.
  • Ok support.
Cons of a toilet frame:
  • Shaky, no matter how you install these versa frames still shakes and wobbles which scares some people but they are strong.  
Recommended for:
  • People who require stand-by to minimal/moderate assistance with transfers.
  • People who perform standing pivot transfers by pushing off surfaces.
  • People with short-term disabilities such as recovering from a moderately severe injury or surgery and are expected to make a full recovery.
Not recommended for:
  • People over 300 pounds.
  • People who 'pull to stand'.
  • People who require moderate to maximum assistance to transfer. 

Elevated toilet seats:


 Extra wide elevated toilet seat with legs.


Pros of elevated toilet seats:
  • Inexpensive.
  • Easy to install.
  • Ok support.
Cons of elevated toilet seats:
  • Many models are shakey, especially the models that attach with a vice-like device under the toilet rim.
  • They often have somewhat narrow openings which get soiled easily and are difficult to clean.
Recommended for:
  • People who require stand-by to minimal/moderate assistance with transfers.
  • People who perform standing pivot transfers by pushing off surfaces.
  • People with short-term disabilities such as recovering from a moderately severe injury or surgery and are expected to make a full recovery.
Not recommended for:
  • People over 300 pounds.
  • People who 'pull to stand'.
  • People who require moderate to maximum assistance to transfer. 

Free-standing commode placed over a toilet:



Pros of commodes over toilets:
  • Inexpensive.
  • Easy to install.
  • Good support.
  • Very adjustable.
  • Commodes with armrests that drop down are available for people who perform lateral transfers.
Cons of elevated commodes over toilets:
  •  Depending on adjustment they can be too high over the toilet and cause a mess.
  • Legs of the commode can be a tripping hazard or difficult to maneuver around with a wheelchair.

Recommended for:
    • People who require stand-by to minimal/moderate assistance with transfers.
    • People who perform standing pivot transfers by pushing off surfaces.
    • People with short-term disabilities such as recovering from a moderately severe injury or surgery and are expected to make a full recovery.
    Not recommended for:
    • People over 300 pounds.
    • People who 'pull to stand'.
    • People who require moderate to maximum assistance to transfer. 

    Grab bars:  Grab bars are strong and versatile so they can be configured in several different ways.
    Great Grabz Wave




    ADA drawings for grab bar placement in commercial buildings.





    Grab bars: Grab bars run $30.00-$100.00 depending on shape, size, style and finish.  Installation runs from $60.00-$200.00 depending on the complexity of the job and if internal backing boards will be installed or if studs are easy to find.

    Pros of grab bars:
    • Versatile.
    • Many sizes, finishes, and designs.
    • If installed correctly are a great solid support.
    • ADA grab bars must be rated for a 250 pound capacity but many grab bars have a 500 pound capacity.  Check with the manufacturer for grab bar capacity.
    Cons of grab bars:
    • Can be difficult or expensive to install.  
    • Grab bars can't always be placed exactly where they are required.
    • If the grab bar is more than 16"-18" on center (or 8"-10" from the edge of the toilet) away from the toilet they are useless, it's too far to get good leverage.
       
    Recommended for:
    • People who require stand-by to maximum assistance with transfers.
    • People who perform standing pivot transfers.
    • People who pull to stand.
    • People who perform lateral transfers.
    • Long term disabilities.
    Not recommended for:
    • People over 500 pounds unless special bracing and heavy duty grab bars are installed.
    • If the wall is too far away from the toilet.
    • If there are no studs to attach the grab bar or a backer board. 


    Comfort Arms:  Comfort Arms are like armrests for the toilet, they are good-looking, easy to install, and very stable unlike the versa frame. 



    http://www.essenlux.com/products/comfort-arms-armrests-for-the-toilet


    Comfort Arms: Comfort Arms come in two widths standard (20" internal width) or wide (22" internal width) with weight capacity for both at 330 pounds.  Comfort Arms run $195.00-$205.00 a long term solution that is more cost-effective than grab bars.

    Pros of Comfort Arms:
    • Good looking.
    • Easy to install.
    • Great long term solution.
    • Stable.
    • Less expensive to install than grab bars.
    • Good option for toilets that only have one wall available for a grab bar.  Comfort Arms provides bilateral support.
    • Good for transfers for people who utilize 'push-off' transfers.
    • Fit North American toilets both round and oblong.
    • Can be transferred to another toilet if occupant moves to a new home.

    Cons of Comfort Arms:
    • Will only support up to 330 pounds.
       
    Recommended for:
    • People who require stand-by to maximum assistance with transfers.
    • People who have arthritic knees, or balance issues such as Parkinsons.
    • Long term disabilities.
    • People who require a stable surface for transferring.
    Not recommended for:
    • People over 330 pounds unless special bracing and heavy duty grab bars are installed.
    • People who utilize pull-to-stand or lateral transfers.

    2 comments:

    Denise Stewart said...

    Great summary Karen of the pros and cons for getting on and off the toilet easier and the additional mess factor must be considered.
    Both are very important daily issues that need to be understood and decided upon.
    Thank you.

    Karen Koch said...

    Thank you Denise, you sound very knowledgeable.