Benefits Of Bedside Commodes


Anyone with reduced mobility can greatly benefit from a bedside commode. My 91 year old mom has been using one for several years now, and to say she is happy with it is an understatement. It also gives me peace of mind at night knowing that she has this to use over our toilet, that she finds it easy to use, and is safe doing so.


Benefits of bedside commodes are –


  • safety
  • wheelchair users may find it easier than a toilet
  • comfortable option for bedridden individuals
  • creates greater independence
  • can lead to increased privacy and sense of dignity
  • easy to use
  • can increase user confidence
  • adjustable in height
  • models in all sizes
  • no need for home renovation
  • can be placed anywhere in the home
  • cost is affordable
  • extremely portable 
  • models with wheels
  • some models have multiple uses
  • can be used over an existing toilet
  • a safe option after hip or knee replacement surgery
  • less stress for caregivers than a conventional toilet
  • more sleep for caregivers

What is a bedside commode ?


A bedside commode is a chair toilet which does not use running water, and which can be placed by the bed, or at any location in the home.

The commode has a chair frame but with a toilet seat, under which a pale is slotted so that it may be used as a toilet.


Two main categories of bedside commode exist –


  • static portable bedside commodes
  • rolling bedside commodes


Static bedside commode types –


  • simple folding commode
  • stacking bedside commode
  • 3-in-1 commodes or All-in-One commodes
  • drop arm commodes ( this can be a specific type or a feature that you find on other types)
  • static shower commode


The static commodes are the type of commode that you are most likely to be using if you just need portable toilet by the bed,  and possibly to put over the toilet .

The rolling commodes come in two types –


  • transport bedside commode
  • shower chair transport bedside commode


Rolling commodes have wheels which means that they can additionally be used for transporting a person from A to B.

The shower transport commode adds the extra option of wheeling into the shower for washing.


One last point about rolling commodes is that each type has two versions –


  • attendant – for this a second person or caregiver is required to push the commode chair
  • self-propelling – this type of commode chair has wheelchair wheels and the user can independently wheel themselves around making them far more autonomous


Bariatric or Heavy Duty Commodes 


All types of bedside commode come in models with different weight capacities.

Bedside commodes that support maximum weights up to around 350 lb are standard, anything above that is called a “bariatric” or a “heavy duty” bedside commode.

Commodes may also have variations of width, height and some changes in the form of the seat to facilitate the task of cleaning oneself when seated on the commode.

What is the purpose of a bedside commode ?


The purpose of a bedside commode is to make the act of going to the toilet easier, simpler and safer for those individuals who have trouble getting to and, or, using a toilet.

Typically it is used by people who are disabled, or have limited movement due to a medical condition, surgery, and injury or simply old age. 

A bedside commode can typically be adjusted in height, so as to suit the needs of the user, making it much easier for the user to sit and stand due to the reduced distance that they need to bend.

The portability of commodes serve to reduce the distance a user needs to walk to use a toilet, again making it easier and safer for a user who has problems with mobility.

The benefits of bedside commodes




  • bedside commodes have large armrests which are easy to grab onto, making it easy for a disabled or elderly user to lower themselves onto the commode seat in all safety, something which is obviously not true of a toilet unless grab bars have been put in place
  • a bedside commode if it is placed in a bedroom, or any room other than the bathroom, is essentially in a safer place – 85% of all falls occur in the bathroom, due in part to slippery surfaces – if you place the commode in any other room on a commode mat which is non-slip, you are already making it safer than the bathroom environment
  • give lots of room – whereas a bathroom can be difficult to use for a person with mobility issues, it is easy enough to place the commode in a space which is free of any hazards, but kitted-out with all they need
  • peeing at night – with a bedside commode there is no need for an elderly or disabled person to walk to the bathroom, the commode can be right by the bed which reduces the chance of falls – you can also use lights with remote sensors which will turn on when the person gets up from the bed making it easy for them to see the commode, and the lights will turn off typically 3 minutes after no more movement has been sensed


Greater independence


  • it may be that some loved ones are loathe to call at night for help because they need to go to the toilet, and rather than doing so they will wait unhealthy amounts of time until their carer is awake
  • if there is a bedside commode next to the bed that a person is able to use on their own, rather than disturbing a sleeping carer, they will be able to do so and will gain in their independence


Increased privacy and sense of dignity


  • with the increased security of sitting on a bedside commode as opposed to a toilet, a user who is able to now go to the toilet on their own and to do this without assistance can have some of their privacy restored to them, and they don’t have to go through the undignified process of being helped at such intimate times
  • the seats that come with the different models of bedside commode – elongated or open, also facilitate access for cleaning oneself
  • the availability of larger bariatric commodes also means that where a larger person need help on a toilet, on a bariatric commode where they have a large seta and are well supported, they can clean themselves without help


Easy to use 


  • a bedside commode is very easy to sit on because of the armrests, and much more so than a toilet


Wheelchair users


  • drop arm commodes are specifically designed to have armrests which may be raised, lowered and sometimes removed, so that access to the bedside commode is gained for a side transfer
  • wheelchair users can often use a normal toilet, but if they cannot a drop arm bedside commode is designed for transfer either from a wheelchair, or a bed


Drop arm bedside commodes

More comfortable than a bed pan


  • for a person who is bedridden a drop arm bedside commode, if they have the use of there arms, is a more comfortable way of going to the toilet than a bedpan
  • the person slides off the bed onto the bedside commode and can then be left in private to use the commode and if they are able, to clean themselves and transfer back to the bed
  • if they can do this it will return some of the persons dignity and the feeling of being helpless and so dependent on others


Can increase user confidence


  • because the bedside commode has armrests that you can hold onto, it means that persons with limited strength, balance or mobility can feel more confident going to the toilet, as the chance of falling is reduced
  • the fact that when seated on the bedside commode you have the armrests on either side and the backrest behind and there is a feeling of being supported and surrounded (on three sides) which there is not on a conventional toilet, which also may help the person to feel more comfortable and sure of themselves 
  • after a period of time of using a bedside commode it is not unreasonable to suggest that a person may increase in confidence in other activities as a result of being able to do a little more by themselves than before – there is no guarantee, but everything builds in little steps


Adjustable in height


  • a but a few bedside commodes come with adjustable height legs which allows the user to adjust the heigh to their own body
  • the height can also be adjusted to raise the level of the seat, and so relieving issues for individuals who have problems bending to sit or to stand
  • the height adjustment is also used when placing a commode over a toilet a a raised toilet seat or toilet safety frame


Range of sizes for all users


  • bedside commodes come in a whole range of sizes, weight capacacities and widths
  • some of the shower chair transport commodes come with a whole menu of seat sizes, widths and weight capacities to fit as many users body types as possible

Low cost 


  • bedside commodes are not that expensive  for standard models – anywhere from 40 – 100 $ for a standard bedside commode
  • only some of the very heavy duty bariatric commodes are more expensive, but that is because of the materials and the load the have to take


No need for home renovation


  • a bedside commode is also far cheaper than plumbing in a new toilet with all kinds of safety grab bars around it in a bedroom, you just clear a space and place it there
  • if you have a problem with the odors you can simply put in an extractor fan, and that is far cheaper than a renovation of the whole bedroom 


Can be placed anywhere in the home


  • the bedside commode can be placed anywhere there is space in the home


Extremely portable -very lightweight so easy for caregivers to move around


  • bedside commodes are typically made form aluminum and plastic for the standard models and for the heavy duty steel tubing and plastic, but the very rarely weigh much at all and are very easy for a carer to lift and re-position 
  • my mom who is 92 can pick up here commode from over the toilet and put it in another room – I ask her not to, but does she listen …


Some come with wheels


  • rolling bedside commodes come with wheels, and can be a great advantage if you are caring for someone who has no mobility, or very little – someone who is often tired or frail


I will give examples of the different of the different types at the end of this section of the article.


Some have multiple uses


Some bedside commodes have multiple uses –


  • 3-in-1 bedside commode – bedside commode, raised toilet seat and toilet safety frame
  • adjustable height stacking bedside commode – bedside commode, raised toilet seat and toilet safety frame
  • transport bedside commode – transport commode, raised toilet seat (not all models) and bedside commode
  • shower chair transport bedside commode – shower chair, transport commode, raised toilet seat (not all models) and bedside commode

3 in 1 bedside commode

static stacking bedside commodes

Can be used over an existing toilet


  • a 3-in-1, or All-in-One, or adjustable height stacking bedside commode can be used over a toilet
  • the three types of commodes which I just listed can be adjusted to have the correct height to be positioned over a toilet, once the original toilet seat and lid are in the upright position, and to be used as a raised toilet seat, or
  • as a safety frame – the seat of the commode in this case is set to it’s lowest possible height adjustment which is above the rim of the toilet bowl, the idea is not to raise the seat height, but to give the support and security of the arms and the frame 


If you want to learn more about how to set up a commode and use it over a toilet, if it is better than a raised toilet seat, what are the differences with raised toilet seats, or how to choose a raised toilet seat or bedside commode for an elderly parent, I have an article all about this here.

3 in 1 bedside commode installed over a toilet

A safe option after hip or knee replacement surgery


  • a bedside commode is a great option for a temporary toilet in the bedroom or in another room, as the patient will not be able to move easily at first to get to the toilet, so having one right by them is a big help
  • the bedside commode is also far easier than a toilet to sit on after hip surgery, so the risk of injury is far less – due to the way you need to sit down without putting strain on you operated leg, the armrests of a bedside commode are of great assistance both for sitting and standing back up
  • after a few days or a week when the surgery has healed a little, and the patient is using the toilet, the bedside commode – if it is a 3-in-1 bedside commode – can be placed over the toilet with the commode seat raised to give the toilet added height, making it much easier for the patient to sit as it is higher


Less stress for caregivers than a conventional toilet


  • if you are a carer helping a person to use a bedside commode, it is much easier than helping them to use the toilet
  • a carer can pick up the commode and quickly put it wherever it is needed if there is an emergency, which obviously is not possible with a ceramic toilet
  • once the person is installed, if they do need help with cleaning, you can at least them alone for while they go to the toilet, knowing that they are secure with the armrests and the frame, which you don’t have on the conventional toilet


More sleep for caregivers


  • this is pretty simple, if you don’t have to worry about the person you are caring for calling you or falling on the way to the toilet at night, you will be able to sleep, and to sleep without so much worry

Rolling commodes


It remains just to take a glance at rolling commodes.

As I said previously, there are two types of bedside commodes on wheels –


  • transport bedside commodes
  • shower chair transport commodes


Both types have  –


  • an attendant version
  • and a self-propelling version

Transport or rolling bedside commodes

Attendant Transport Commode Chair - with 4 equally sized wheels

Self-propelled Transport Commode Chair

Shower chair and bedside transport commodes

Attendant shower chair transport bedside commodes

Self-propelled shower chair transport bedside commodes

To learn a lot more about rolling commodes you can read my very in-depth article, complete with lots of examples of the different types of commodes and you can find that article here. The article gives the names, types, model numbers and weight capacities of lots of examples, as well as suppliers.

Installing your bedside commode over a toilet 


To install a 3- in-1, or stacking bedside commode over a toilet –


  • take the commode bucket out from the bucket platform
  • put your toilet seat and lid in the upright position 
  • adjust the height of the commode legs so they clear the height of the rim of your toilet bowl from the floor when you place the commode over the toilet
  • to get the correct leg height, you depress the spring-loaded button on the leg, and then either pull the leg down to lengthen it, or push it up to shorten it
  • the legs must all be the same length for safety reasons
  • the spring-loaded buttons must pop out of the holes properly when adjusted to the correct height, they should make a loud clicking sound as they lock into position and stick out
  • be careful not to make the bedside commode too high for the user, their feet must not be in the air when seated – it can lead to falls when they try to stand up from the seat
  • once you are sure that the legs are set to the correct height, place the bedside commode over the toilet
  • if you are creating a space of 3 – 6 inches between the commode frame and the rim of the toilet bowl you may want to use the splashguard which comes with all commodes which can be used over a toilet
  • the splashguard fits into the bucket platform juts like the commode bucket 
  • your commode is now ready for use over the toilet


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I’m Gareth and I’m the owner of Looking After Mom and Dad.com

I have been a caregiver for over 10 yrs and share all my tips here.

Gareth Williams

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