The Best Toilet Safety Rails for the Elderly: Sturdy Toileting Support

toilet-safety-rail-for-seniors

Falls are considered one of the biggest threats to the health and safety of seniors, and for good reason! More than 300,000 people are hospitalized every year from broken hips, a full 95% of which result from falls. Falls are the leading cause of injuries among older adults. 

A vast majority – 80% – of falls occur in the bathroom. There are a lot of reasons for this. Changes in health, medications, and lost strength and balance are among the major ones. The state of the environment – poor lighting, slippery floors and uneven surfaces, for example – also plays a key part in up to half of all falls.

For this reason, we’ll dedicate this article to bathroom safety, taking a specific look at toilet support rails. 

Support rails (also known as toilet frames, toilet hand rails or toilet grab rails) are inexpensive armrests that can easily be added to an existing toilet to provide safety, support and peace of mind for seniors as they get on or off the toilet. 

However, there are lots of differences to consider between the various safety rail models, and choosing the wrong one will be ineffective at best – and can be very dangerous. This is why we’ve put together this guide for seniors and their loved ones who are considering adding commode stability handrails to their toilet. 

You’ll learn what to consider and which features are right for you as you make your selection, so you can have confidence that you’re purchasing a product that will meet your unique needs. We’ve also sought to simplify your search by compiling a list of six of the top choices out there. 

Our best overall choice is the Vive Toilet Frame because it’s highly adjustable and includes some innovative stabilizing features. However, depending on your specific needs, you may find that another toilet rail is better suited to your situation. 

Let’s jump right into the top picks, and then we’ll break down the features to consider in a toilet safety rail.

1. Drive Medical Stand Alone Toilet Safety Rail

Best Stand-Alone Toilet Rail
Drive Medical RTL12079 Handicap Grab Bar for Toilets, White

Drive Medical Stand Alone Toilet Safety Rail

Freestanding toilet rail with convenient magazine rack and padded armrest for extra comfort

About: The Drive Medical Stand Alone Toilet Safety Rail is our top freestanding toilet rail thanks to its low weight, extra-stable design, and convenient magazine rack.

Features:

  • Lightweight and easy to move
  • Magazine rack included
  • Padded armrests for comfort
  • Easy, tool-free assembly
  • Stable design

The Drive Medical toilet frame features feet that come out a bit further than its arm rests, making it one of the sturdiest toilet rails out there – just take care not to trip over the feet! 

Most seniors will find that the benefits of the stable frame outweigh the slight chance of stumbling, but anything that creates an uneven floor surface at all can contribute to a chance of tripping. Seniors who shuffle while they walk, have trouble seeing the floor, or would be likely to approach the toilet from the side, rather than the front, would be at highest risk.

The Drive Medical Toilet Frame weighs just 9 pounds! This makes it easy to place in front of any standard round or elongated toilet for instant support, and then move out of the way for cleaning, guests, or other reasons.

With its comfy padded armrests and handy magazine rack, the Drive Medical can support seniors comfortably throughout their entire trip to the toilet. 

This Drive Medical rail is backed by a limited lifetime warranty, which offers further peace of mind that it will perform well for the long term.

Technical Specifications

  • Armrest Width: 21 inches
  • Arm Height: 25.5 inches
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Fits Toilet Types: Elongated / Standard

Pros

  • Magazine rack
  • Non-slip feet
  • Stable, well-balanced design

Cons

  • Cannot adjust armrest height
  • Extended deet may present a risk for stumbling

2. Medline Toilet Safety Rails

Best Budget Toilet Safety Rail
Medline Toilet Safety Rails, Safety Frame for Toilet with Easy Installation, Height Adjustable Legs, Bathroom Safety

Medline Toilet Safety Rails

Budget-friendly toilet rail with adjustable height & adjustable width armrests

About: The Medline Toilet Safety Rail is an easy and economical way to enhance support for seniors at the toilet. It features adjustable height legs, adjustable width armrests and easy-to-clean foam padding.

Features:

  • Adjustable height legs from 26 to 31 inches
  • Adjustable width armrests from 18 – 24 inches
  • Closed cell foam armrests for easy cleaning
  • Slip-resistant rubber-tipped legs

The Medline’s adjustable-height legs attach directly to the existing hinge, so it accommodates elevated toilet seats, as well as standard height commodes. For added security, its legs feature slip-resistant rubber tips.

The width between the armrests is adjustable between 18 and 24 inches, so it offers a roomy, comfortable fit for a wide variety of senior body shapes.

The closed cell foam armrests are comfortable, yet durable and easy to clean.

Installation is simple for most able-bodied adults, but may be challenging for seniors with poor hand strength or dexterity. 

Technical Specifications

  • Armrest Width: Adjusts from 18 – 24 inches
  • Arm Height: Adjusts from 26 – 31 inches
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Fits Toilet Types: Standard round and elongated

Pros

  • Economical price point
  • Adjustable height and width
  • Closed cell foam padding on armrests is comfortable, durable and easy to clean

Cons

  • Installation may be challenging for seniors with hand weakness or disabilities

3. Vive Toilet Safety Rail

Best Compact Toilet Safety Rail
Vive Toilet Safety Rail - Adjustable Grab Bar - Compact Support Frame with Handrail for Bathroom Toilet Seat - Easy Installation for Handicap Senior Bariatrics, Elderly Balance - Padded Hand Armrest

Vive Toilet Safety Rail

Compact toilet safety rail with adjustable width and soft non-slip handles

About: The little Vive Toilet Safety Rail packs a lot of strength into its small frame. It supports seniors up to 300 pounds, and its width can be adjusted for a custom fit.

Features:

  • Adjustable width from 18.5 – 21 inches
  • Foam padded non-slip handles
  • Tool free installation

The Vive Toilet Safety Rail attaches to the toilet seat hinge and fits most standard round or elongated toilets, although it may not work well with toilets with curved tanks.

The Vive is designed primarily for pressure to be exerted downward on the rails. It works great when seniors push down on the rails as they sit or stand up! 

However, if they push or pull the rail out and away from the toilet at an angle the frame may slip out of place. Therefore, seniors who are very weak on one side of their body may be safer with a freestanding toilet frame or traditional grab bar.

Technical Specifications

  • Armrest Width: 18.5 – 21 inches
  • Arm Height: 10 inches (measured from toilet seat)
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Fits Toilet Types: Standard round and elongated. 

Pros

  • Compact size
  • Soft non-slip handles
  • Adjustable width
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Avoid forcefully pushing or pulling outward on the rail

4. RMS Folding Toilet Safety Frame and Rail

Best Folding Safety Frame for Toilet
RMS Toilet Safety Frame & Rail - Folding & Portable Bathroom Toilet Safety Rails - Handrail Toilet Bars with Adjustable Height (White)

RMS Folding Toilet Safety Frame and Rail

Durable, foldable toilet frame with padded arm rails as well as a built-in foot rest

About: The RMS Folding Toilet Safety Frame and Rail weighs less than 10 pounds and easily collapses down to a width of only 5 inches. It’s easy to toss in the trunk and take along for travel, or simply stow out of the way when not needed. 

Features:

  • Easily collapsible for storage or travel
  • Adjustable height from 28 – 36 inches
  • Durable, yet soft padded armrests
  • Unique footplate offers extra stabilization

The RMS is a freestanding frame that fits around the seat of most standard and elongated toilets. It’s not attached to the toilet itself, so it offers very stable, reliable support that can be more sturdy than frames that attach just to the toilet. 

Its unique footplate further enhances this stability, making it among the most sturdy of the safety frames. 

Bear in mind that any uneven surface can pose a risk for tripping – so be careful with the footplate. Most seniors will find that the benefits of added stability outweigh any added risk of stumbling, but be sure to weigh the pros and cons in your situation. 

The RMS’ height adjusts between 28-36 inches, so seniors of any height can feel comfortably supported.

Its soft, durable padded arm rails provide a comfortable and secure non-slip grip that can stand up to long term use. 

Technical Specifications

  • Armrest Width: 23 inches
  • Arm Height: Adjustable from 28-36 inches
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Fits Toilet Types: Most standard round and elongated (20 inch clearance between arms)

Pros

  • Adjustable height
  • Very stable
  • Portable

Cons

  • Footplate can slightly increase some seniors’ risk for tripping

5. Vive Toilet Frame

Best Overall Toilet Frame
Vive Toilet Safety Rail Frame - Grab Bars for Bathroom - Fall Prevention - Adjustable Non Slip for Adults, Seniors, Elderly, Disabled, Handicapped - Padded Handle Support - Medical Device for Home Use

Vive Toilet Frame

Easy-to-assemble toilet frame with adjustable fit along with unique stabilizing features

About: The Vive Toilet Frame’s small footprint and moderate frame won’t overwhelm most bathrooms, while its unique stabilizing features give it strength and stability far beyond other two-legged models. 

Add all this to its adjustable height, width and padded handrails, and the Vive will be the best bet for many seniors seeking a safety rail.

Features:

  • Adjustable width armrests from 21.5 – 26.5 inches
  • Adjustable height handrail from 26 – 31.5 inches
  • Unique front crossbar enhances stability
  • Stabilizing suction cup feet
  • Padded handrails

The Vive assembles and installs into the existing toilet seat’s hardware, and works with virtually any standard toilet. 

The Vive toilet frame’s height and width can both be adjusted, so it offers a comfortable fit for any senior weighing up to 300 pounds.

The Vive features some unique stabilizing technology, including a sturdy crossbar, which greatly improves its stability. It also features distinctive suction cup feet which enhances stability on hard flooring surfaces. 

The Vive’s soft, padded armrests are lined with molded composite material to ensure durability, while still providing cushy comfort and a non-slip grip. 

Technical Specifications

  • Armrest Width: Adjusts between 21.5 – 26.5 inches
  • Arm Height: Adjusts between 26 – 31.5 inches
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Fits Toilet Types: Any standard round or elongated 

Pros

  • Stabilizing crossbar and suction cup feet
  • Easy clean, yet soft padded rails
  • Adjustable height and width

Cons

  • Note that suction cup feet may not work on tile, depending on grout pattern
  • Installation will be easy for able-bodied adults, but may be challenging for seniors with poor hand strength or disabilities

6. Carex Toilet Safety Rails

Best Multi-Use Bathroom Assist Frame
Carex Toilet Safety Rails - Toilet Handles for Elderly and Handicap - Home Health Care Equipment Toilet Safety Frame, Grey

Carex Toilet Safety Rails

Sturdy multi-use bathroom frame that’s portable and foldable

About: The Carex Toilet Safety Rail is a no-frills, simple free standing frame that offers support wherever a senior needs it – at the toilet, at the sink, or elsewhere throughout the home. 

Features:

  • Use at toilet, sink or other locations support is needed
  • Height adjusts between 27 and 33 inches
  • Breaks down easily for storage or travel
  • Skid-resistant rubber tipped feet
  • Padded handles

Resembling a large, freestanding walker, the Carex Safety Rail fits around any standard toilet, and can easily be positioned wherever extra support is needed. Keep it at the sink or toilet, and easily fold it up and store it out of the way when not in use.

The Carex is simple to set up and break down without tools, although it does require hand-turning a few screws. It might be hard for seniors with severe hand weakness or pain, but most others should be able to manage without too much trouble. 

The Carex weighs less than 10 pounds, so it’s easy to carry or move around. It measures only 14 x 23 inches when broken down, so some seniors toss it in a suitcase to take along for travel.

Technical Specifications

  • Armrest Width: 23 inches
  • Arm Height: Adjustable from 27 – 33 inches
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds
  • Fits Toilet Types: any

Pros

  • Sturdy freestanding design can be used at toilet, sink or elsewhere
  • Lightweight and easy to move
  • Can be broken down for travel
  • Non-skid rubber tipped feet
  • Adjustable height

Cons

  • Some seniors who bought the Carex in recent months reported that the width is now narrower than described (around 18 inches interior width)

How Toilet Rails Benefit Seniors

Similar to a conventional grab bar, toilet rails offer seniors a sturdy handhold to grasp as they stand up or sit down on the toilet. However, toilet rails are much less expensive and much easier to install than bathroom grab bars. 

Toilet rails vary in the amount of support they provide. Some are intended for partial weight support, for example – just to enhance balance as a senior turns around to sit down on a toilet. 

Others can support a great deal of weight, making them ideal for seniors who are recovering from hip or knee surgery and can only bear weight on one leg.

When seniors have difficulty sitting down smoothly (such as some with Parkinson’s or other disorders), sometimes they have a tendency to “plop” down. This is as uncomfortable as it is unsafe on a toilet seat! Providing arm rails can provide support to allow them to ease themselves down safely and comfortably onto the toilet.

Toilet safety frames can also help seniors just plain feel safer in the bathroom – and sometimes peace of mind is as priceless as safety!

What to Consider in a Toilet Safety Rail

Be sure to choose a toilet safety rail with the right features for your senior’s needs to ensure it offers safe and appropriate support in your unique situation.

pink toilet

It’s important to realize that no toilet frame is designed to offer full, one-sided weight support. Placing a lot of weight on just one side can cause freestanding frames to tip, and attached guard rails to break.

This is dangerous! Instead, consider a grab bar or transfer pole for a more appropriate solution if the user tends to put a lot of weight on just one side of their body.  

Handles

Padded handles are most comfortable for most seniors, and they are essential for those with weak, painful hands or fragile skin! Padded handles are also easier to grip and are less prone to slipping than bare ones, so padding is generally a good feature whenever you can find it! 

There are different qualities of padding on different models. Softer, more cushy padding might be good for an elderly individual who wants a place to rest their arms while sitting. A medical-grade closed-cell foam padding, on the other hand, will stand up to more frequent cleaning over time.

Weight Capacity

Be sure to choose toilet guard rails that can accommodate the senior’s weight comfortably and safely. 

Consider whether your senior needs just a little something to help balance during transfers, or will they rely heavily on the safety frame as they stand up or sit down on the toilet? 

Not all safety rails are designed to support a senior’s full weight. Freestanding toilet rails tend to support more weight than those which are secured to the toilet.

Toilet Shape & Bathroom Dimensions

When selecting a toilet frame, double check the dimensions of the frame, the toilet, and the surrounding area to be sure that it will fit into your bathroom space. Also make sure to consider additional heigh needed from the toilet frame if you use a raised toilet seat or raised bidet.

toilet shape bathroom dimensions

Self-standing toilet frames take up more room than those that mount to the toilet bowl, but they are much more stable.

Other alternatives for a tight fit include traditional wall-mounted grab bars and floor-to-ceiling transfer poles.

Most toilet frames are designed to work with most toilets, but not all are completely universal. Sometimes the toilet’s shape is a deal-breaker. Standard toilet bowls are generally round or elongated (oval shaped). Occasionally, the toilet’s tank is curved, rounded or has a designer shape that doesn’t work with certain toilet frames. 

Bidets may work fine with some safety frames, but not with others. Before buying, check to be sure that the safety rail will work with your particular toilet, especially if you have a fancy or non-standard commode. Toilet frame purchases are often not returnable.

Adjustability

Some toilet safety frames offer adjustable-height armrests. Adjusting the height of the armrest may provide better comfort or leverage for some, however in many cases, a few inches in one direction or the other won’t make too big of a difference. Most armrail heights will work for most seniors. 

Seniors with extra-long or extra-short torsos will probably notice the difference more than others, and may be most likely to appreciate an adjustable frame. 

If you have any question or concern about armrest heights, find an armchair that the senior can easily push up from, and measure the height from its armrest to its seat.  

Portability

Portability can be a consideration for some seniors. Will you be traveling, and need to bring the toilet frame to a hotel, friend’s home or other location? Are there multiple people with different needs sharing the same bathroom?

In most cases, toilet frames are simply set up and left where they are for a while. Sometimes seniors need the support indefinitely, while other times – such as after a surgery, or an extended visit – they plan to use it for a little while and then toss it in storage.

Some toilet frames are designed to be affixed to the toilet, and would be bothersome to change frequently. Other toilet frames can easily be folded and moved out of the way for cleaning or other reasons. Portable frames may offer better flexibility, but may be more bulky or expensive than those that bolt to the toilet.

Stability

Stud-mounted grab bars offer the absolute most stability for seniors who need a great deal of support at the toilet, and would be a safer choice for those with severe one-sided weakness. When a lot of weight is placed on only one arm of a safety frame, it runs the risk of tipping over to the side. 

However, grab bars are more expensive and can be tricky to install – often requiring a contractor to ensure they safely mounted on weight-bearing studs.

Toilet safety rails offer plenty of support for most seniors, and can be a better choice for their budget. 

Freestanding safety frames are the most stable type of toilet rail because of their wide-based design. Frames that mount to the toilet tend to be shakier, put a lot of force on the toilet hinge, or may run the risk of slipping out of place. 

Freestanding frames take more space than some of the toilet-mounted models, so they may look bulky and might not fit as easily into smaller bathrooms. Be alert for potential tripping hazards, such as a footplate that might end up underfoot, causing a senior to stumble.

Toilet frames without legs should be used with caution, and only by seniors who need just a bit of balance support. Toilet-mounted frames with no leg support are sometimes favored by seniors mainly because their footprint is smaller, so they take up less room in the restroom. However, they tend to be much less stable than freestanding frames, and can make cleaning difficult. 

Two-legged toilet frames offer a nice compromise between stablity and streamline. They tend to be sturdier than frames without legs, while taking up less space than freestanding frames. These generally attach to the toilet seat hinge, while the legs enhance its stability. 

Many of these two-legged toilet rails can feel a little shaky during use, which can make a senior feel insecure while transferring to the toilet. Some two-legged models feature a bar or brace that connects the legs to each other. This greatly improves their stability, so much so that some come close to rivaling the support of self-standing frames.

Non-Slip Grip

A secure and stable toilet safety frame shouldn’t slip at all on the floor. Some savvy seniors have found ways to enhance the safety of a frame that ends up slipping slightly. 

Some use non-slip rubber rugs beneath the toilet – but rugs can be easy to trip over! A safer solution is to cut a strip of self-adhesive foam tape (from any hardware store) and position it just under the feet of the frame. Non-slip rubber cane tips are a great solution if they fit properly on the feet of your particular toilet frame.

Non-slip grip is important for the handles, too! Padded armrests tend to offer the most comfortable, non-slip grip. Wrapping non-slip tape around the armrests is an option for enhancing grip, if needed.

In Short: We Like Vive (But There Are Many Great Options)

During our evaluation, we came to the conclusion that the Vive Toilet Frame is the best bet when it comes to toilet rails for many seniors. It’s adjustable for a comfortable fit for virtually all seniors under 300 pounds, and it installs easily on almost all toilets and bathrooms. 

While the Vive will meet the needs of a large number of seniors, it won’t be the best choice for everyone. The best toilet rail for you depends on your particular needs.


We hope this article has been helpful for you, and we welcome your questions and comments! Let us know what your experiences have been with toilet rails in the comments below. 

Last update on 2021-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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