With age, sitting down on a toilet and getting up again becomes harder and harder. This is the case for a variety of reasons. Aging muscles are injured or lose strength. Conditions like osteoporosis, osteochondrosis, and chronic osteomyelitis affect the back and knees. Tall toilets, which have high seats, are crucial for elderly people’s safety and independence.
A tall toilet height means less effort squatting down on and getting up off the seat, which can be greatly beneficial for older people with hip, leg, knee, joint, or back problems. The added height also makes these toilets a good option for taller people, for whom standard toilets are not comfortable.
You Can Adapt Your Toilet
You don’t always have to replace your toilet with a taller one. You can opt to adapt your existing toilet with an accessory like a raised seat. There are elevated seats, commode chairs, and other accessories that can make going to the toilet a more pleasant experience for an older person.
A tall toilet isn’t the same as a comfort height toilet. The latter is also referred to as an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) toilet. This is because it’s 17 to 19 inches from floor to seat, the same height as that of ADA-compliant toilets. That’s similar to the height of a chair. A standard toilet is about 15 inches tall.
You need to test a toilet to find the right one for your needs as an older person. We don’t mean do your business in the store, of course. Just try sitting down and getting up from it. Rest both feet on the floor. A comfort height or ADA toilet is best for elderly or disabled people who have trouble standing from a low position. You might have leg pain or your legs might “fall asleep” due to insufficient circulation if your feet are dangling from the toilet seat, not touching the floor.
Always have a toilet installed by a professional. All connections between the bowl and tank should be solid and tight. The flush valve and flapper should be working properly. No water connections should be leaking.
Both standard and comfort height toilets come in a variety of styles and colors. The most popular colors are beige and white. Some toilets are more affordable and traditional. Others are more elegant in appearance and easier to clean. Depending on height, the inner mechanisms can vary. They can have pressure-assisted flushing mechanisms or be traditional gravity flush. You can get a bidet with either toilet.
What to Look for When Choosing a Toilet
Without a doubt, a toilet is an essential piece of equipment. How do you know if you’ve gotten the right one? This section will tell you what to look for when shopping for a toilet for an older person.
Toilet Bowl Shape
Most toilet seats and bowls are either elongated or round. Older bathrooms usually have a round, circular bowl. An elongated toilet seat is more oval and is getting much more common. To find out what shape you have, measure from the front of the bowl to the seat mounting bolts. The distance for an elongated toilet is about 18.5 inches, while that for a round one is about 16.5 inches.
Is an elongated toilet better than a round one? Elongated toilets take up more space, but offer more sitting surface and are more comfortable for older people. They tend to extend an additional couple of inches into the space, as can be inferred from the measurements above. A round toilet might be a better choice if your bathroom is really small or you need extra room for a scooter, walker, or wheelchair. This is because a round one can fit into a smaller space.
Toilet Seat Height
The toilet seat’s height should be sufficient for an older person to be able to sit down on it and stand up off of it again with ease. They should be able to rest both feet flat on the floor. If the person is using a wheelchair, look for a toilet seat height similar to the height of the wheelchair seat. That will make it easier for the person to sit down after transferring to the seat from the wheelchair laterally.
The height of an ADA toilet might not work for you. If you or the elderly person in your care needs something taller, you should think about a wall-mounted toilet. The biggest height of those types of units is about 28 inches. Wall-mounted or wall-hung toilets are a special type of two-piece toilet, where the tank is concealed behind the bathroom wall while the bowl is mounted on the wall. They can save up to 12 inches of space in front of the bowl and can be installed at a wide range of customized heights. If you are interested in this, know you’ll have to buy a specific carrier system to open the wall up, rendering the option quite costly.
Also keep in mind that many manufacturers don’t specify the height of a toilet from the top of the seat to the floor, not from the rim of the bowl to the floor. That’s because they often sell the seat separately. Usually, it adds about an inch to the total height.
Toilet Style: One or Two-Piece
We went into this briefly earlier, but here are some more details. The tank and bowl of one-piece toilets are integrated into one unit. They are easier to clean and take up less space than two-piece toilets. They don’t require assembling, which makes them simpler to install. On the downside, they’re usually more expensive. Two-piece toilets have a tank as a separate unit. It is bolted to the top of the bowl. They are cheaper and more common than one-piece toilets.
As you can lift each piece separately, these toilets are easier for a person working alone to install. As the tank and bowl can be replaced independently of one another, they can also be less expensive to repair. However, they are harder to clean and have more potential for leaks.