How Does A Raised Toilet Seat Help ?

by | Beginners Info, Safety

Before I became a caregiver to my two parents I never really gave much thought to how difficult even the simplest activities, such as sitting down and getting up, can become as we get older. To help with mobility problems there are many different pieces of equipment and, for some, the raised toilet seat is one of the essential ones.

A raised toilet seat helps by –

  • reducing the distance between standing and sitting on the toilet
  • providing help with stability and balance
  • reducing stress on the joints
  • reducing  chances of  injury

Raised toilet seats aren’t just going to help the elderly of course.

They will help anybody who has issues sitting down, standing up, problems with low strength, balance or poor mobility.

These issues are all combined for elderly patients who have a hip or a knee replacement, as was the case for my mom 18 months ago.

I can still remember my mom struggling over to the bathroom with the aid of a walker and a nurse for the first time post operation, and I think I just stood there wincing in trepidation at how this might turn out.

But then the elevated toilet seat came into view, and I think my mom and I, both felt a great sense of relief.

I was also imagining how it was going to be with just the two of us at home 5 days later !

Happily, the nurses showed me how to set it all up for home, how you are supposed to sit down on a raised toilet seat without hurting yourself, and after a while we had it all worked out fine.

There are many types of raised toilet seats, and in the end and for the last year and a half my mom has been using a portable bedside commode.

The potty, or pan, is simply removed and then the frame with the seat and lid in place are placed over the toilet.

We like this, as it means that the frame gives my mom lots of support and aids with balance, especially at night when she might be a little groggy.

My mom has now fully recovered from the hip replacement surgery, but continues to use the raised toilet seat as she is over 90, and can sometimes do with a little help with her balance – she has eye conditions which sometimes make her a touch unsteady.

Raised toilet seat types and  best use scenarios 

There are a number of different pieces of equipment which qualify as raised toilet seats, and they do vary greatly in terms of sturdiness, and the actual assistance they can give.

So, it becomes important to consider in what physical shape a person should be in to be able to use the different types of raised toilet seat safely.

Raising seats can be done by –

 

  • putting a frame over the toilet which has a seat integrated into it – this is the sturdiest seat of all and it is what I would suggest is used if you have an elderly parent who may have balance and strength issues – there are very sophisticated models which actually have varying kinds of lifts giving actual assistance in standing and sitting
  • putting various types of plastic additions on the toilet bowl to either raise the height of the seat itself, or adding a higher plastic seat

Let’s start with raised seats on frames for extra support

Safety frames with elevated seats

Safety frames with elevated seat are don’t require any form of installation, just placing over the toilet once you have put the toilet lid and seat in their vertical position.

The raised seat is attached to the frame and can’t come off – this is not the case with a lot of the seats which are placed on the bowl, and which all rely on some kind of clamping system – some of which really don’t seem that strong – with the exception of risers which are bolted to the toilet through the original seat bolt holes and which are very solid.

The frames have adjustable height. They usually adjust in the same manner as a pair of crutches does, with spring loaded push-buttons.

Most safety frames have armrests which make getting on and off the seat very easy, and you should be able  adjust the height of those also.

If the frame doesn’t have armrests you lose all the benefits for those who users who have issues with balance, and to me, they hardly seem worth purchasing.

Before you purchase any kind of frame, and this goes for all devices, do check the weight capacity of the frame, as you don’t want it to collapse.

Frames for heavier people are called “bariatric” frames.

As I have said I feel that these are the best type of raised seat, along with the portable bedside commodes, for elderly parents who may have problems with their balance and are not too strong.

For those of you who have parents who have serious frailty and balance issues I would suggest a toilet lift may be necessary.

Portable bedside commodes

You can use a portable 3-in-1 bedside commodes just like safety frames with raised seats.

Simply remove the potty and the backrest, and place the unit over the toilet, once you have lifted the seat and lid on the toilet into the vertical position.

You have the adjustable legs for height, so they should easily fit over any toilet and give a range of heights.

Just like with the frames make sure you are using one with the right weight capacity.

3-in-1 bedside commodes are pretty solid and just like with the raised toilet seats with safety frames, they have bariatric frames for heavier people.

 

Some examples of this type of commode are –

Drive Medical heavy duty bariatric commode

Drive Medical steel folding bedside commode 

UltraCommode bedside commode

This is what my mother has used for 18 months over the toilet, and she is very happy with it.

For the average elderly person who is still has some strength to get up and down, it is a very good system.

Toilet Lifts

Toilet lifts are really for people who are very frail, lacking in strength, have problems with balance and in need  of assistance in either getting up or sitting down on the toilet.

The mechanisms in toilet lifts can be pneumatic, hydraulic or electric mechanisms.

The lifts are not cheap, but the first Uplift commode and the Easy Access are the more affordable.

In most models the seats are attached to a support or frame, which is placed around and over the toilet.

The seat lifts the user up from a sitting position to a standing, or lowers them down from standing to sitting.

Depending on the device the amount of assistance provided by it will vary accordingly.

The exception to what I said above is the Easy Access Tilt Toilet Incline Lift which is actually attached to the bowl of the toilet in a very solid way, and does not stand independently. It does have arms though which the user will hold onto to help with their balance. It can be battery run or corded.

The Uplift Commode is a little different as well as it is a safety frame with a seat with a toilet lift. The frame is simply placed above the bowl of the toilet like any other frame.

It has a pneumatic system, which is designed to take 80% of the body weight, so that the user maintains a little of their own strength without straining themselves.

The deluxe models –

The Liftseat Powered Toilet Lift is an electric lift which can be used over most toilets lower the user onto the seat. It has an independent frame which is placed over the existing toilet.

The Drive Solo Lift with Arms is another electrical system which fits around and over the toilet, and is equipped with armrests which tilt up and down. 

Raised seats on the bowl of the toilet

Raised seats can also be attached to the bowl itself, but I have to say these are my least favorite, as they are the least secure, with the exception of risers and seats with spacers which are actually bolted on through the structure of the toilet.

Risers

Risers are a block of plastic of a specific height which are bolted onto your toilet bowl underneath the seat.

Risers come in a range of heights from 2-4 inches high

They can come with, or without arms.

You simply remove your existing seat plus lid, put the riser on the bowl, then place your seat on top, and finally bolt it all back together using the same bolt holes as before.

Don’t forget to check that the riser fits your model of toilet – they come in standard or elongated versions.

Some examples of these risers are –

  • Nova 3 1/2 inch toilet seat riser
  • Maddak 4 inch hinged seat riser

By virtue of the fact they are bolted down, they are very sturdy and won’t come off.

There are only a few models which come with armrests, which are quite wide apart, and very sturdy. 

With models which have no armrests you have to be careful not to fall off, or over.

For this reason I wouldn’t advise these for a an elderly person who has just had a knee or hip replacement, as sitting down or pushing back up, could be a problem.

Seats with spacers

Seats with spacers, or “Tall” seats, simply replace your existing toilet seat and lid, and use the same bolt holes to be fixed to the toilet, making them very sturdy.

The seats are come in 2 inch, or 3 inch high models, and are available with, or without, lids and with, or without, an open front to the seat.

Check the model of your toilet to see if it is standard or elongated, before you purchase.

These seats do not come with any form of armrest, so they are not going to be easy to use if you need some kind of support rail when sitting and getting up.

Grab bars around the toilet, are an advisable addition if your loved one is at all fragile and lacking in strength and coordination.

An example of one these seats is –

  • Centoco 3L440STS-001 raised toilet seat with lid

Clip On combi seat/risers

Clip On are seats which are open at the font and are fitted onto you existing toilet seat.

The seat is squeezed and clipped onto your seat. When you release the seat it expands and clips into place.

It is really meant as a travelling or temporary solution, as there are no fixings whatsoever.

Elevated or raised seats

Elevated or raised seats are a combined riser and seat.

These seats come as 2 inch, 3 inch, 3 1/2 inch, 4 inch, 5 inch and 6 inch elevations.

The different models all attach in different ways.

Some models have armrests or handles, and others don’t – some are removable, and some are also adjustable.

As regards the models with armrests, don’t forget to make sure that there is enough width between them for your loved one’s hips.

As with all other types of raised toilet seats you have to make sure about the weight capacity of the model.

You will need to see what type of seat you have – raised toilet seats will be “elongated” or “standard”.

 

The most basic of the raised seats is often called a “Bubble” seat.

Some seats such as the Carex toilet seat riser with Quick-Lock simply slot onto the toilet bowl without any bolts or clamping. There is an inner rim which goes down a certain distance inside the bowl to help with grip.

 

Some raised toilet seats come with side fixings – plastic bolts – and a front bracket to secure them to the toilet bowl.

The seats slot onto the top rim of the bowl and down the inside, the fixings on the outside squeeze onto the bowl and provide stability in that way – some have a flange, or lip, at the back which slips under the inside rim of the bowl, stopping the seat from being able to tip forwards. No models of this type have armrests or handles of any type.

Examples of this type of raised seat –

Carex 4 1/2 inch Raised Toilet Seat with Safe Lock

Aquasense 4 inchRaised Toilet Seat with lid

 

The most solid and more expensive types have a clamping or front locking  system which is actioned by a front knob on the seat.

As well as the clamp at the font they usually have a lip at the back side which slots in under the rim of your toilet bowl, like the previous type.

Some examples of this type –

Carex E-Z Lock 5 inch Raised Toilet Seat with Arms

Medokare 4.5 inch Raised Toilet Seat with Arms

Vive 5 inch Raised Toilet Seat with Padded Handles

There are a very few examples of this last type of “front locking” raised toilet seat which have legs as well –

Maddak Extra wide Tall-Ette elevated toilet seat w/ aluminum legs, Prod. No. T725881000

Maddak Extra wide Tall-Ette elevated toilet seat with steel legs, Prod. No. T725882000

Mobb 4.5 inchRaised Toilet Seat With Legs Prod. No. MHRTSL

Herdegen Clipper VII 4.3 inch raised toilet seat w/lid and adjustable frame and armrests, Prod. No. 500431

What’s the best raised seat for after hip or knee replacement surgey ?

I think this depends on the age of the person in question.

If the person is younger and has good strength and balance I would say that they could get away with a raised seat and a walker which they use to back up to the toilet with.

Even so I like the idea of armrests, or handles, to help the person position and steady themselves as they sit back.

A grab bar by the toilet is always very helpful as well.

But if we are talking about someone who is frail, elderly, or both, I would only consider a safety frame, portable bedside commode.

If the  person is extremely fragile and having balance problems, they may need a toilet lift to help them.

What is most important, is that you learn how to sit down, and stand up properly, immediately after your surgery.

On arrival at home your loved one and the caregiver need to know how the sitting on the toilet after surgery is done, as this is the bets way to avoid injury.

I hope this helps. 

Good  luck !

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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How does a raised toilet seat help ?
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Raised toilet seats how they help- what types there are; what are the best use scenarios for the types of seat; which seats for the elderly; which type of seat after hip or knee surgery.
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Lookingaftermomandad.com