Assistive devices can help you get on and off the toilet with ease

Going to the bathroom is a daily necessity that most of us take for granted. What happens if you can no longer get on and off the toilet with ease?

Most standard height toilets are low to the ground. Whether due to hip, knee, back or leg problems or even being overweight, performing this common activity can be challenging, frustrating and even unsafe. People who live alone may worry about getting stuck on the toilet once they are seated and end up feeling helpless and scared.

Adaptive equipment may be the simple solution to this problem. They range from low-cost solutions, such as raising the overall seat height, to more expensive solutions like installing a taller toilet. Sometimes, even a grab bar or handrail provides a successful result. Here are some options to consider.

Most people know this device as a “bedside” or three-in-one commode. It provides a raised toilet seat within a built-in safety frame. The Versamode was designed to be used in the bedroom by persons who lack the ability to safely use the bathroom; however, it can be transformed into a device that can be seated over the bathroom toilet, providing a higher sitting surface and handrails to aid in sitting down and rising up. The standard model is basic in design and often has a maximum weight limit. More deluxe versions are available with a padded seat. Prices range from $50 to $200. It can be purchased online or at your local Target, Walmart, Walgreens, Home Depot, Lowes or Bed, Bath & Beyond. Versamodes may also be covered by Medicare under specific circumstances.

Raised Toilet Seat
This device raises the seat level of a toilet. It is usually made of plastic material and is secured to the toilet with clamps. A standard raised toilet seat comes in a variety of designs and styles. The height can range from one to six inches. In addition, the raised toilet seat can come with a lid, padded seats, handrails and an adjustable height. They are useful in spaces that are too small to allow use of a versamode. Prices range from $15 to $60 and can be bought online or at the same stores listed above.

Toilet Safety Rails
This adaptive equipment provides handrails for a person to help sit down or push off the toilet. This item is best for anyone who has weak muscles or limited range of motion. It is easy to assemble but does require a screwdriver and strength to secure a few bolts. Most safety rails come with soft, padded handles. The height of the handrails is adjustable. Prices range from $15 to $60 and can be bought at the same stores, above.

This provides a way to elevate your toilet height when you don’t want a piece of bulky equipment but want to keep your existing toilet. The Toilevator is a spacer that is installed under the base of your toilet, adding 3.5 inches of additional height while still maintaining the appearance of your toilet. Toiletvators are often a preferred option over raised toilet seats, especially when a bathroom is regularly used by multiple family members and guests. Toiletvators average around $100 and require professional installation. They can be purchased at

Comfort Height Toilets
The Comfort Height Toilet is not a piece of equipment, but an actual new toilet. It is approximately two to three inches taller than a traditional toilet, making it more comfortable to get on and off the toilet. This toilet ranges from $130 to $400 and can be bought at Home Depot, Kohler or Lowes.

All of these items add convenience and improve ease and safety when going to the bathroom. They will allow you to create an accessible bathroom that meets all your needs.

An occupational therapist can help you determine what adaptive equipment will be best in order for you to carry out your daily activities safely and independently. Occupational therapists help individuals do the things they want, need or are expected to do, like going to the bathroom. Often this is achieved through the help of adaptive equipment or simple changes to your living environment. If you are experiencing difficulty with getting on and off the toilet or any other activities throughout your day, talk to your doctor about receiving a referral for occupational therapy.

By Leah McCarthy, OTS
Master of Occupational Therapy Program, University of Pittsburgh
For Pittsburgh Senior News