Many of us take for granted the ease with which we can sit down and stand up from the toilet. For aging seniors, this casual task can become much more difficult as the balance and muscle strength required to rise up from a sitting position lessens.
Luckily, there are a number of tools and mobility aids that can allow a senior to retain independence by helping them get up from the toilet with ease.
Here are some tools that can help an elderly person get up from the toilet:
1. Setup a Toilet Frame
A toilet frame is a set of toilet safety rails that fit around the toilet to give an elderly user something to hold on to when getting up and sitting down on the toilet.
Toilet frames can function as stand-alone structures that are placed around an existing toilet, or a senior can purchase a specialized toilet seat that has toilets afely rail bars attached that come out from the toilet seat itself.
In the image below, the left image features the toilet seat design that has handles coming out of the attached toilet seat riser. On the right, the standalone toilet frame is a secondary structure that sits behind and around the toilet. The back of the frame loops underneath and behind the toilet.
If you’re dealing with an individual who has lost strength on one side due to a stroke or some other type of injury, be especially careful with frames or risers, as they are designed for applying uniform pressure to both sides.
If the individual applies only pressure to one side, the toilet frame may become unstable and could even tip over once the user applies their full weight.
2. Install a Grab Bar in the Bathroom
A grab bar is a bar mounted on the wall, near the toilet, giving the user something to hold onto and leverage their weight against to lift themselves up.
Bathroom grab bars are a common fixture in nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. Some elderly individuals who choose to age in place opt to have grab bars installed in their own bathroom at home.
The user can then hold into the grab bar to help hoist themselves up from the toilet.
3. Replace a Standard Toilet Seat With a Raised One
An elevated, raised toilet seat is a booster that fits on top of the existing toilet seat to raise it. When the toilet seat is raised up and sits higher, the individual does not need to use as much strength to lift themselves up, making it considerably easier to get up from the toilet.
Some raised toilet seats are available with handles, adjustable armrests, and other attachments to provide further assistance.
4. Install a Transfer Pole
Transfer poles are full ceiling-to-floor poles designed for helping an individual get up from their bed or the toilet.
Transfer poles can come with a variety of different handle designs and grips for a senior’s comfort. They can be installed by drilling into the ceiling and floor to permanently install the pole, or they can be tension-mounted which allows them to provide adequate support, while still remaning easily removable and not requiring any drilling.
5. Get Help From a Family Member or Caregiver
When in a bathroom where helpful mobility gear is not already installed or set up, getting help from a loved one or caregiver may be the easiest option for getting up and down from the toilet.
Here’s how to do it safely:
- Place the senior’s hands onto your forearms and ask the senior to slowly lower themselves onto the toilet. Provide support by putting your hands onto their trunk and bend your knees as they lower themselves down.
- When the senior is done and ready to stand, ask them to scoot forward a bit so that they are closer to the edge of the toilet seat.
- Ask them to place their hands onto your forearms to provide support as they lean forward and raise themselves up. Again, keep your hands on the senior’s trunk and keep your knees bent for better stability.
Throughout the process, be sure to maintain communication and provide clear, simple instructions one at a time for the individual to follow.
6. Sign Up for Physical Therapy
Even if you use the methods and tools listed above, you’ll also always want to encourage the senior to get physical therapy in order to strengthen their thigh muscles. Building muscle will allow the user to maintain more stability and will make the tools detailed here that much safer.
Practicing standing up and down from a seated chair position is one great way to build the necessary strength for safely standing up from a toilet. Just make sure this exercise is performed under supervision.
Tips & Questions About Helping an Elderly Person Up From a Toilet
Can You Use a Walker to Help a Senior Up From the Toilet?
It’s not recommended that a senior use a walker to help them get up from the toilet. Using a walker as an extra way of pulling themselves up is a bad idea because if they put too much pressure on the walker, it could easily slip or slide and cause the senior to lose balance and potentially fall.
Remember, walkers are designed to help an individual move forward. They are not designed to be stable enough to help an individual get up from a toilet.
Can Towel Bars Be Helpful For Seniors Standing Up From a Toilet?
Absolutely not! You should never use an item in the bathroom as a support aid if it was not specifically designed and installed to properly hold the user’s weight.
Towel bars, shower curtain poles, and toilet paper holders may be attached to a wall, but they are not designed to support an individual’s weight.
It can be tempting to grab onto these nearby objects for extra support and leverage when getting up from the toilet, but they are not strong or stable enough. Trying to use these kinds of objects for lift support is very dangerous and often results in falls.
Helping an elderly individual get up from the toilet can be difficult, but there are plenty of tools and methods available to make it easier. Whether you use a raised toilet seat or help from another person in the bathroom, these tips will help your loved one maintain their dignity as they age.
Do you have any other tips or suggestions for helping an elderly individual get up from the toilet? Share your tips in the comments!