Raised Toilet Seat vs Bedside Commode ?

by | Beginners Info, Personal Hygiene, Safety

In our household we are big fans of the bedside, or 3-in-1 commode. We’ve been using one for my mom for around 20 months, both at the bedside, and then later over our actual toilet. It’s so easy to install that I can just quickly lift it away when anyone else wants to use the bathroom.

Raised toilet seat vs bedside commode ? I am going to compare raised toilet seats with bedside commodes, and discuss how to choose which is best for you in your unique situation. 

Let’s start with the bedside commode ?

I am listing here bedside commodes which can all be used over the toilet as a raised toilet seat.

Do remember that you do need to check the weight limits of each model of bedside commode.

Bedside commodes for heavier individuals are called “bariatric”, and you should be able to find examples of  these in all of the categories I mention here.

I have an article where I list the weight capacities of all the raised toilet seats and bedside commodes that I have been able to find, which includes over 180 different models, and amongst them a large number of bariatric bedside commodes. You can find that article here.

Bedside commodes can be divided into a few various types – 

Bedside commodes – portable

Portable bedside commodes are static bedside commodes and these can be divided into a number of basic types –

  • basic static folding commode which has one function only as a bedside commode and is very lightweight – both in it’s build and in the weight it can support
  • static bedside commodes which stack and are more solid and can be used both as a bedside commode, and as a raised toilet seat if they are height adjustable
  • static shower/bathe chair and bedside commode, and as you can imagine functions as a chair for both the bath and the shower, and as a bedside commode
  • 3-in-1 or All in One bedside commodes which are far stronger and more versatile than the other types

If you type “bedside commode” into google the 3 in 1 bedside commode is generally the type of commode that you will be shown.

The main 3 ways in which they can be used – hence the name 3-in-1 commode – are as

  • a bedside commode
  • a raised toilet seat over your toilet
  • as a toilet safety frame (if your remove the seat and lid)

The frames are usually made from steel, or aluminum, and the seats are either a hard plastic, or soft and padded.

I would like to point out here just because these commodes are said to be for these three particular uses, that doesn’t mean that there are not others.

For my mom, I used it to for her to sit on for a partial sponge bath, or when needed as a chair for a few minutes.

The highest seat you will be able to get with a bedside commode comes on the TFI Extra Tall bedside commode, made by TFI Healthcare. This commode’s seat height can be adjusted from 19″ – 28″.

So even the “Convenient Height Extra Tall Toilet” (the tallest toilet I can find at 20″ from the rim of the bowl to the floor), with a 6″ raised toilet seat, is 2″ less than the “TFI Extra Tall Bedside Commode.” I have added this here to save time for those of you who are very tall, as the TFI commode is the tallest option.

Drop arm bedside commodes

As the name suggests, these bedside commodes have drop armrests which can be moved out of the way if the user needs to slide out of the side of the chair into a wheelchair, for instance.

The drop arm model can also be more practical if the person using the seat needs some help cleaning themselves, as a fixed arm may get in the way. With a drop arm, the drop and can be dropped away so you can stand on the side and help.

The drop arm bedside commodes can also be used just like the 3-in-1 commode as –

  • a bedside commode
  • a toilet safety frame
  • a raised toilet seat over your toilet

The frames are steel, or aluminum, the seats and lids are either a hard plastic, or a padded seats on some models. 

Transport or rolling bedside commodes

These are bedside commodes on wheels.

The commode can be used as –

  • a transport chair
  • a commode
  • placed over the toilet

As you can imagine, if you are caring for an elderly parent, or a person with disabilities who has problems walking, a transport commode could be very helpful.

If there is time, you can wheel your loved one to the bathroom and over the toilet, which can greatly reduce odor control problems in their bedroom, and not to say anything about the amount of clean up.

Be careful that you pick the correct height commode for your toilet if you get a fixed-height model, as you have to be able to wheel it over the toilet bowl.

Always lock the wheels when using the commode in a static position.

Shower chair and bedside transport commodes

The advantage of these commodes is that they can be wheeled into the shower and have been specifically designed for this.

Of course, you have to have a shower without a lip that you can roll into, or that aspect is totally redundant.

This type of commode can be used as –

  • a shower chair
  • a transport chair
  • a commode
  • some can be used over the toilet as a raised seat

These are very sturdy commodes.

Just as with the transfer commode, lock the wheels when using it in a static position.

How to set up a bedside commode over a toilet

To install the commode over a toilet –

  • remove the pale from the commode
  • if you have a small toilet, you may wish to remove the backrest from your commode 
  • put the lid and seat of your toilet into the upright position
  • adjust the height the legs of your commode so it is high enough to place it over the toilet
  • you push in the metal buttons on the legs to adjust the length of the commode leg
  • make sure that the legs all the same length for stability and safety
  • check that all the push buttons have properly popped out of the holes when you have set the height
  • don’t make the seat so high that when seated the user’s feet dangle in the air – this can cause people to fall when they try to stand up
  • place the commode over the toilet 
  • insert the commode splashguard under the commode seat – you don’t have to use the splash guard if you don’t want to, especially if the seat is only an inch or so above the bowl

Raised toilet seat vs bedside Commode ?

I am assuming that most people who asking this question are wondering about putting a bedside commode over the toilet in the bathroom, and want to know how well they compare.

But, some people may be asking is a raised toilet seat on a toilet better than a portable commode by the person’s bed.

I will start by

  • (a) comparing raised toilet seats with a bedside commodes which are being used as a raised toilet seat
  • (b) discuss whether it is more practical to use a raised toilet seat than using a  commode by the bed

So first off let’s take a look at the types of risers and raised toilet seats that are available, and how they compare to the bedside commode used over the toilet.

I’ve categorized raised toilet seats by the way in which they are attached to the toilet bowl, or if they aren’t, how they are raised over the toilet bowl.

Raised toilet seats and how they compare to a bedside commode over the toilet

As I noted above, if you are very tall and you require the highest possible toilet seat, then you will want to go straight and look at the ” TFI Healthcare -TFI Extra Tall bedside commode which adjusts the seat to as high as a head spinning 28″ from the floor, which is the best you can get. 

We can start by dividing raised toilet seats into two groups –

  • models where you use your existing toilet seat
  • models which don’t use your toilet seat

Raised toilet seats using your existing seat  –

Risers

  • these are installed  between the seat and the toilet
  • the seat is removed, the riser placed on the rim of the bowl, the seat back on top of the riser, and everything is bolted down again
  • some risers come with a hinge so that you can lift and clean underneath
  • risers come with, or without armrests, depending on the model
  • fit standard or elongated toilets
  • you can get risers in heights from 2 – 4 inches

Risers, due to how they are bolted to the toilet along with your seat, are very solid.

Some models have armrests, which will help elderly parents with mobility issues, or sight impairments, to sit down.

 

Some examples of these risers are –

  • Nova 3 1/2 inch toilet seat riser
  • Maddak 4 inch hinged seat riser
  • Carex  3.5″ elevated toilet seat w/ removable handles
  • Carex  3.5″ elevated toilet seat w/ removable handles

Compared with a bedside commode –

  • risers take more time to install than a bedside commode
  • a riser does not have adjustable height like a bedside commode
  • the commodes have around 5 height adjustments in increments of an inch  – the majority adjust from 18 – 23 inches in height

Clip On combi seat/risers

  • clip onto the top your toilet seat
  • the raised seat/riser which is horse shoe-shaped is squeezed and clipped onto the toilet seat as it is released
  • hold in position through tension
  • have no bolts or clamps to fasten them to the seat
  • there are no armrests or handles for support
  • are made in fixed heights of 2 – 4 inches

Some examples of this are –

  • Ability Supertstore 4 inch Clip On Raised Toilet Seat
  • Performance Health Novelle 4 inch Clip On Raised Toilet Seat

With elderly adults who aren’t too strong, and can sit back quite hard when they are tired, I would want the the most solid of options, along with armrests or handles for them to grab onto, especially if they should start to slip.

For that reason, I feel these seats are a temporary option for stronger individuals with good coordination who won’t sit down hard, and don’t require frames or handles for extra support.

 

Compared with a bedside commode –

  • quick and easy to install, but without solidity
  • bedside commodes can take far greater weight
  • no armrests or handles for support like a bedside commode
  • difficult to hold onto when getting up and down as there is only the seat – commodes are far easier
  • come in fixed heights – 2 – 4 inches, so they cannot be height adjusted like bedside commodes
  • lack all of the versatility of a bedside commode

Systems where your existing seat is not used –

Seats with spacers

  • on the underside of the seat there are legs, or “spacers”
  • seats come in 2 inch or 3 inch raised sizes
  • to install, remove your existing seat
  • using the bolt holes for your old toilet seat, bolt on the new raised seat with spacers
  • come with, or without, lids
  • come with, or without, an opening at the front to facilitate with wiping
  • come as either standard, or elongated models
  • does not have handles, or armrests, for support

As these seats are bolted to the toilet in the same way as your original toilet seat they are structurally sound.

The fact the seats have no armrests or handles for support, and could make it difficult for elderly parents with mobility, or balance issues, to use these seats.

A solution is to set up grab bars on the wall by the toilet, but this demands more expense, and a lot more work with the installation.

An example of these seats is –

  • Centoco 3L440STS-001 raised toilet seat with lid 

 

Compared with a bedside commode –

  • the seats more complicated to install
  • no armrests for support like the commodes
  • they are lower in most cases than a bedside commode
  • you cannot adjust the height, as compared to a commode which usually has 5 adjustments for seat height
  • you have to buy a specific model for either elongated, or standard shaped toilet bowls – but commodes should go over any toilet
  • like bedside commodes you can get them with a lid

Elevated or raised seats

    • 2 inch, 3 inch, 3 1/2 inch, 4 inch, 5 inch and 6 inch seats are available
    • the seats all have different methods of installation depending on their brand
    • some come with armrests, or handles
    • armrests, and handles, may be removable and adjustable
    • some models have side clamps towards the rear of the seat
    • some are front locking
    • some have a lip at the back which slides under the rim of the inside of the bowl to reduce any wobbling
    • the seats all have their own weight capacities
    • weight limits depend on the way the seats are attached to the bowl

     

    The following sub-categories of raised seats are grouped by the way they are attached to the toilet bowl

    Bubble seats –

     

    • slot over the rim of the toilet bowl and down inside
    • certain models also have “sticky grip pads”
    • have no fastenings
    • have an extended lip around the inside edge which goes a few inches into the bowl to help stabilize the seat
    • certain seats have a lip at the back of the seat slotting under the bowl’s inside rim to reduce movement
    • have one set of models for standard toilet bowls
    • have one set of models for elongated toilet bowls
    • do not have handles or armrests

     

    Examples of this type of seat are –

    • The NRS Comfort Raised Toilet Seat
    • AquaSense Portable 4 inch Raised Toilet Seat – standard toilets
    • HealthSmart  Portable 4 3/4 inch Raised Toilet Seat – universal
    • Herdegen Contact Plus 5 inch Raised Toilet Seat- universal

    As these seats are not attached by any locking, or clamping systems, I personally wouldn’t want an elderly person using one.

    Once again there aren’t any handles or armrests to assist with sitting, so the person can only put their hand on the seat, which is not fastened to the bowl and can tip forwards.

    Even if a grab bar were installed, I don’t think I would want my mom using this system.

    I think it might be okay for younger, stronger people if there is a grab bar, but I like to sit on things which are firmly attached and can’t move.

    Compared to a bedside commode –

    • also very easy to install
    • not as a stable, or solid as a bedside commode
    • it’s not possible to adjust the height as with a bedside commode
    • no armrests, or handles for support, as on a commode
    • only a few models fit all toilets, unlike a bedside commodes which can be placed over all toilets
    • don’t come with a lid, as do bedside commodes
    • they take up less space than a bedside commode

      Seats with side fixings and a front “bracket” –

      • two plastic bolts or clamps, one on each side of the seat towards the rear for securing the seat
      • a lip at the front called a “front bracket” by some brands
      • are not adjustable in height, and come in heights of 2, 3, 4, 4 1/2, 5 and 6 inches
      • can be bought with, or without, lids
      • don’t come with armrests or handles
      • some are for all toilets sizes
      • some are for elongated toilets
      • some are for standard toilets
      • all have their own different weight capacities 

       Examples of raised seats using this system are –

      • Aquasense 4 inch Raised Toilet Seat with lid
      • Vaunn Medical Clamp-on 4inch Raised Toilet Seat
      • Carex Universal 4 1/2 inch Raised Toilet Seat with Safe Lock
      • PCP 4″ Raised Toilet Seat
      • Drive Medical 6 inch Raised Toilet Seat with Lock

      I bought a seat of this type for my mom before her hip replacement surgery at 88 yrs old, but when we tried it we found that it still moved all over the place.

      It was when I tried this type of seat, that I became aware of how difficult an elderly person might find it to use a seat without handles or armrests.

      Compared to a bedside commode –

      • like a bedside commode these seats are easy to install
      • they are nowhere as strong, or as solid, as a bedside commode
      • no adjustable heights like a bedside commode
      • they do come with lids like a commode if you want
      • these seats do not come with armrests, or handles, as do the bedside commodes
      • only some of these seats will fit most toilets, whereas a bedside commode will fit over any normal toilet bowl
      • takes up less space than a bedside commode

      Front Locking raised toilet seats –

       

      • lock to the toilet bowl at the front of the seat
      • at the back of the seat there is a small lip which slots under the rim of the bowl of your toilet
      • the seats come in heights of 4 or 5 inches
      • a lot of the models come with armrests or handles, and these can be adjustable and removable
      • in general, these seats are for all toilet shapes and sizes, as they only clamp to the front of the bowl
      • the weight capacities vary according to the different models, but they are amongst the stronger seats which attach to the toilet bowl
      • are not accompanied by a lid

      The fact that all of these seats come with armrests or handles, in my opinion, makes them a better option than the bubble seats, the clip on seats or the side fixing seats. 

      I would though suggest that they would be easier to use for an elderly person if you have a grab bar on the wall right next to the toilet.

      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

      Compared to a bedside commode –

      • can be fast to install if you don’t have to remove your toilet seat and lid – this depends on the size of your toilet bowl
      • not as strong or as stable as a bedside commode
      • most of the raised seats with front locking do come with armrests, or handles like a bedside commode
      • you can’t adjust the height of the seats as you can with the bedside commode
      • these seats don’t come with a lid as do bedside commodes
      • front locking seats are generally compatible with most toilet bowl sizes, and bedside commodes fit over all toilets
      • take up less space than a bedside commode

      Raised toilet seats with legs

      • this is simply a raised toilet seat with 4 legs
      • you adjust the legs to the height of the bowl
      • it adds around 4 1/2 inches in height to the toilet
      • they do come with armrests or handles
      • on one design the seat sits on the bowl with an inner rim which slots inside the bowl , on another it features a front locking system
      • can take greater weight than seats without legs and is more stable

      These seats certainly are more solid than the seats without legs, and the armrests make it a lot easier for an elderly person to use.

      And as I have seen with my own mom, when a seat has legs it gives the person more confidence when using it.

      Some examples of raised toilet seats with legs –

      • Maddak Tall-Ette Elevated Toilet Seat With Legs
      • Mobb Raised Toilet Seat With Legs
      • Herdegen Clipper VII with armrests and adjustable legs

      Compared to a bedside commode –

      • these seats only take a minute or so  to install like a bedside commode
      • some models will adjust the height above the bowl, while some attach to the bowl and give only that one fixed extra seat height
      • as with bedside commodes these seats are compatible with most toilet bowl shapes sizes
      • do not have seat lids
      • take a little less room than a bedside commode, but not much

      Safety frames with elevated seats

      •  safety frames with a raised seat do not attach to the toilet, they are placed over the toilet
      • put your toilet seat and lid in the upright position, and place the frame and seat over the toilet bowl
      • some have seats as high as 26 inches from the floor
      • the seat is part of the frame, so that the legs take all the weight of the body
      • these do not have lids on the seats
      • the legs of the frames are height adjustable
      • the frames do have armrests
      • they will fit over all normal toilets
      • you need to check each model for the weight capacities
      • bariatric models for for heavier individuals are available
      • the frames come in aluminum and steel

       

      Some examples of safety frames with elevated seats are –

      PCP raised toilet seat and safety frame 2-in-1

      Aidapt President raised toilet seat and frame 

      Aidapt Bariatric Solo Skandia raised toilet seat and frame

      Lattice commode toilet seat and frame 

       

      For elderly parents these are a very good choice if you don’t want a commode for some reason.

      The armrests are large and make sitting down a lot easier, and the seat won’t wobble as it is integrated into the frame.

      As with commodes, you shouldn’t make them so high as to have the user’s feet dangling and off the floor.

      Compared with bedside commodes – 

      • it is even faster to install than a bedside commode over the toilet, as there is no pale to remove, or splashguard to place under the seat
      • both seats are supported by a metal frame
      • each has adjustable legs usually 18 -23 “, but some commodes go up to 26”
      • both types have armrests offering lots of support
      • the safety frame with seat just lacks the versatility of a bedside commode, some of which are also transport and shower chairs, as well as a commode

      Raised toilet seat, or commode by the bed ?

      This really comes down to a question of mobility.

      If the person who is needing the toilet, is very weak or disabled, they may not be able to walk to the toilet, and in this case you would need a bedside commode of some type.

      You can use a commode with drop handles which allows a person to slide onto it if they can’t stand, use a normal three in one commode, or if you feel that your loved one may be immobile for a long time, you can get a transport commode which doubles as a wheel chair.

      The transport commode does have the advantage of you being able to wheel your loved one to the bathroom, remove the pale from the commode and then push them and the chair into position over the toilet. The obvious advantage here being odor control.

      If you are worried about odor control in the bedroom because you are having to use a commode there, think about using disposable bags. The bags just fit into the pale and have an absorbent pad which will turn everything to solids within half a minute and you can immediately tie the bag and put it into the trash.

      If you can’t afford the bags, the empty the pale immediately every time, wash it out and disinfect it. Don’t leave anything sitting in the pale even though there is a lid.

      If the person who is needing the toilet is able to walk to the toilet, then you have the choice of one of the many raised toilet seats, or of one of the several types of bedside commode.

      If the person is elderly, you need a raised seat which is solid, has armrests, provides support and is easy to use, so that they has confidence in it.

      Some of the raised toilet seats without frames are fine if you are younger, have strong arms and are well coordinated etc, but not if you are older and frail.

      I personally wouldn’t though, get a seat without armrests for anyone – this is just my own feeling on the matter.

      I would only use a safety frame with an elevated seat or a bedside commode as a raised toilet seat for an elderly loved one. 

      If your loved one has problems with their eyesight, as well as mobility issues, they can feel for the armrests, which can be of great help to them.

      You don’t want your loved one groping around for the rim of a seat as they are trying to sit.

      A 3-in-1 commode is not expensive and offers all the other functions.

      If you know that your loved one is going to get weaker, or having severe mobility issues for a longer period of time, a rolling bedside commode may be the best option – it’s transport chair, a raised toilet seat, and a bedside commode all in one.

      Summing up…

      Whether or not you choose a bedside commode over a raised toilet seat really depends on the physical condition of the person using it.

      If the user is younger, stronger, and more agile, they may be able to cope with something without armrests etc, but that’s not the case for an older person.

      Risers, which do take a bit of work to install, are very solid and do come – certain models – with armrests.

      Risers combined with a grab bar on the wall could provide a safe and sturdy alternative for an elderly person as well

      But, for me, the solidity of the bedside commode and its multiple uses makes it the winner.

      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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      Summary
      Article Name
      Raised Toilet Seat vs Bedside Commode
      Description
      Is a raised toilet seat or a bedside commode the better choice ? I am going to compare the two, and discuss how to choose which is best for you in your unique situation. 
      Author
      Publisher Name
      Lookingaftermomandad.com