What Does Raised Toilet Seat Mean ?
It was prior to my mom having a hip replacement that my investigation into raised toilet seats went into full swing. The raised toilet seat is one of those pieces of equipment that most caregivers will become very familiar with, if they are looking after an elderly person.
What does raised toilet seat mean ? A raised toilet seat is a piece of equipment which raises the height of a toilet seat to help people with sitting down on, or getting up from, the toilet. By raising the height of the seat, the stress on the hips and legs of the user is reduced.
As our parents become more fragile with age, there are certain devices which appear in our lives, and the raised toilet seat is one of the most common of these. And it comes in quite a wide variety of forms.
What are the different types of raised toilet seats, and how do you install them ?
I am going to start with the different kind of seats that attach onto your toilet bowl in some way.
What most people consider to be a raised toilet seat is a large white tire-like piece of plastic which is somehow attached to the bowl of the toilet.
These can be divided into two types –
- those where you retain your own toilet seat
- those where it is totally removed and not used again
Let’s start with those you use your existing seat and lid –
A riser is a ring shaped block of plastic which is available in a range of heights from 2 to 4 inches.
To Install the riser you remove your existing toilet seat and place the riser where your seat was, taking care to line up the bolt holes on the riser with the toilet seat bolt holes of your toilet.
The toilet seat and lid that you removed are then placed back on top of the riser, and the new bolts, which came with your riser, are placed down through all the parts, and secured on the underside of the toilet.
Do not tighten the bolts too hard, as the toilet is ceramic and you can crack, or break it.
Some risers come with a built-in hinge just like a seat does, which means that you can lift the front edge to clean underneath.
Risers can be bought with, or without armrests, depending on the model.
Some examples of these risers are –
- Nova 3 1/2 inch toilet seat riser
- Maddak 4 inch hinged seat riser
Because they are bolted to your toilet, risers are very solid, and with armrests and a grab bar on the wall by the toilet they are a good option for all but the most elderly and frail among us.
The seats are a “c” shaped piece of plastic which you clip onto your existing toilet seat.
You will need to be very careful with checking the weight limit on these seats to avoid accidents, as there is no form of fixing, such as bolts or clamps, to hold them in place.
There are no armrests, or handles, for extra support either.
Some examples of this are –
- Ability Supertstore 4 inch Clip On Raised Toilet Seat
- Performance Health 4 inch Clip On Raised Toilet Seat
Because these seats come with no arm rests or handles, it is important to make sure that the user doesn’t have their feet off the floor when seated i.e. the seat is not too elevated, as this can cause them to lose their balance, when getting up off the seat, and with nothing to hold onto this can lead to accidents.
The following raised and elevated seats replace your existing toilet seat –
These are seats which have small legs, or spacers, on the under side of the seat, and that come in 2 inch, or 3 inch, high models.
You can get them with, or without lids, and they can be open or closed at the front of the seat.
Tall Seats do not have armrests and the height is no adjustable.
To install these you tale of the existing seat and lid from your toilet, and replace with the Tall seat.
An example of one these seats is –
- Centoco 3L440STS-001 raised toilet seat with lid
I think these would be fine for a younger, and stronger adult, but because there are no armrests it is again a case of needing grab bars, or a toilet safety frame, and so more expenses, to make it suitable for more elderly parents with mobility and balance issues.
Elevated or raised seats
Elevated or raised seats are like a riser and a seat combined.
The seats can come in a variety of heights – 2 inch, 3 inch, 3 1/2 inch, 4 inch, 5 inch and 6 inch models depending on the design type and brands.
The systems for attaching these elevated or raised seats to the toilets vary somewhat.
Bubble seats – simply slot onto the toilet, and you have to push them down hard. They are made of compressed foam which grips the toilet bowl.
These seats can range in height from 2 – 6 inches depending on the model.
There are no clamps, bolts or locks, which I don’t particularly feel confident about.
An example of this type of seat is –
- The NRS Comfort raised toilet seat
These seats are also not adjustable in height, have no armrests, don’t lock to the toilet bowl and have a lower weight capacity than seats which are fixed to the seat.
Seats which have fixings on the sides – another type of seat has fixings on the side – a type of bolt clamp which is tightened to grip the bowl.
The seats depending on the models can be bought in heights ranging from 2 to 6 inches.
These seats can be purchased with, or without lids, are not adjustable in height, have no armrests, are for standard or elongated toilets, and have weight capacities which you will need to check.
You need to be careful, due to the lack of armrests, that the user’s feet are not dangling in the air, or only touching the floor with their toes, as they won’t have proper stability for standing up.
So, again I would feel the need to accompany these seats with grab bars or a toilet safety frame.
Examples of this system are –
- Aquasense 4 inchRaised Toilet Seat with lid
- Vaunn Medical Clamp-on 4inch Raised Toilet Seat
- Carex Raised Toilet Seat
- PCP 4″ Raised Toilet Seat
Systems which lock at the front of the toilet seat – these have a clamp located at the front of the seat with a knob for tightening, and the inner sides go down into the bowl of the toilet for stability.
At the back of the seat there is a small lip which sticks out and slots under the rim of the bowl of your toilet, and once it is in place you push down the front of the seat and secure the front locking mechanism.
The heights of the seats will vary depending on the brand from 4 – 5 inches.
Most of these seats have armrests, some are adjustable and others are also removable.
The seats are compatible with all toilet shapes as they clamp to the front edge only.
Don’t forget to check the weight capacity.
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
The fact that these seats have armrests means that you have something to grab ahold of as you sit back, which is good.
I still think though, that you need a grab bar on the wall for some extra support if you have any issues with balance, or strength.
I am also not sure just how strong the clamps are.
Safety frames with seats
A safety frame with an elevated toilet seat is a metal frame – aluminum or steel – with a toilet seat fixed to it. These are not to be confused with toilet safety frames which don’t have their own raised seat.
To install them you lift the toilet seat and lid of your toilet, and then place the frame and raised seat over your toilet.
The frames have –
- adjustable height
- large, practical armrests
- the weight capacity is higher than on plastic clamp-on seats
- legs on all sides
- bariatric models for heavier people
The frames all have armrests and there are plenty of places a person can grab onto if they start to lose their balance or slip off.
Some examples of frames with elevated seats are –
Maddak Tall-Ette elevated toilet seat with legs
PCP raised toilet seat and safety frame 2-in-1
MOBB elevated toilet seat and frame
Aidapt President raised toilet seat and frame
Lattice commode toilet seat and frame
There are also mechanized frames with raised seats, which actually take some of the person’s weight to assist them in sitting down, or getting up.
Some examples of toilet lifts –
The Uplift Commode
Easy Access Tilt Toilet lift ( this model is slightly different as it is secured to the toilet without legs)
The Liftseat Powered Toilet Lift
The Drive Solo Lift with Arms
If you have an elderly parent who is in great pain and very frail, or lacking in strength, the lifts are a very good option. The first two are the more affordable models of lift.
Portable bedside commodes
Now to my mother’s favorite, the portable bedside commode.
Also known as a 3-in-1 commode it’s a metal chair frame with toilet seat and a potty.
The commode be placed by the bed and used
(a) as a commode
(b) over the toilet as a frame to hold onto when you sit down, or get up (without the seat and bucket), or
(c) you can use it with its seat over the toilet as a raised toilet seat
You can adjust the height and width, and you can also get bariatric frames which can support far greater weights.
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, in my opinion, a very good option for an elderly person who needs a bit of assistance with their balance and who has mobility and, or, pain issues. There is lots of support and nothing else is required.
What’s the best raised toilet seat for the elderly ?
If you are getting a raised seat for an elderly parent, or loved one, after a knee or hip replacement
If your parent has had a hip or knee replacement, you will doubtless know how nervous you can be when you first see them with a nurse being taken off to the toilet, and you start to wonder how you are going to deal with this when you get them home.
So here is the first step
It is important that your elderly parent, and their caregiver, learn how to sit down, and to stand back up, after the surgery.
If your loved one can do this properly, the risk of strains and accidents is greatly reduced.
I found it very helpful, for myself, to learn this, as my mom, who is over 90, kept forgetting the exact process at first, and I was able to quickly remind her about how to do it correctly.
I am not a doctor, obviously, so I am not going to give you advice on how to do the sitting and standing, and I also don’t wish to make a mistake and cause anyone harm.
I can tell you though, that we were advised to use a frame with armrests with a raised toilet seat.
So, this can be a safety frame with a raised toilet seat, or a portable bedside commode as my mom uses.
What kind of raised seat should I get for my parent who has mobility or pain issues ?
This greatly depends on the age of the person in question, their balance and strength.
If your parent is not too elderly, and they still have a good amount of strength in the arms and legs, then a bolted on riser with armrests, and your own toilet seat on top, is probably the most solid of the seats which attach onto the toilet.
This can then be combined with some grab bars, or toilet safety frame, for extra support.
Example of a good risers with armrests are –
Carex 3 1/2 inch Riser with Arms
Essential Medical Supply Toilet Seat Riser with Removable Arms
Drive Medical 3 1/2 inch premium Seat Riser with Removable Arms
Maddak 3 1/2 inch Elevated Seat Riser with Safety Arms
One other point to consider is, how good is their eyesight – mainly their peripheral vision – as they will have to reach back to sit down.
For this a grab bar on the wall, to the side, can be a great help – placed just to the side and inline with the front of the armrests of the seat.
I don’t really like any kind of seat without a frame – it just seems like one more accident waiting to happen – and quite frankly, aging is tough enough on our elderly parents, without them hitting the floor because we bought a cheaper plastic seat for them.
Certainly for a parent who is frail, elderly, or both, I would only buy some form of frame with a seat, be it a safety frame or a bedside commode.
And if they don’t have enough strength in their legs, then maybe it’s time to consider one of the toilet lifts with a seat.
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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.
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