Toilet bowls are usually made with a standard height, based on the dimensions of a ‘standard’ adult, whatever that is! Unfortunately, this height isn’t always useful for those of us who are either taller or shorter than ‘normal’. Also, they make ‘using the toilet’ more difficult if we have less mobility than the ‘standard’ adult in good health.
What height should a toilet seat be?
Well, a ‘standard height’ toilet (this is what we call a ‘normal’ toilet height ) is usually two to four inches lower than a ‘comfort height’ toilet (this is what we call a taller disabled-friendly toilet). If you want to know the measurements from floor to top of the seat, they are
- Standard height: 15 to 16 inches.
- Comfort height: 17 to 19 inches.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifies these measurements as the correct height range for a disabled toilet.
You must remember that a standard toilet is that height because it’s easier to move our bowels if our hips are slightly lower than our knees. This is especially noticeable if we suffer from constipation. If this sounds familiar and you need a comfort height toilet seat, try raising your feet slightly on a step stool to help move your bowels.
Attachments to make toilet seat higher:
Let’s look at the different ways you can add the extra inches to your toilet, shall we? Unless you intend using a ‘comfort height’ toilet for many years, you probably shouldn’t spend out a lot of money on having a new disabled toilet installed.
Fortunately, there are many temporary solutions available. They probably won’t all suit your particular circumstances. Nevertheless, study the selection and see which one you prefer. Then go online or look in a catalog to find a particular style that you think will work for you.
Tall toilet seat
This is what many people think of when we talk about attachments to make your toilet higher. They are basically a plastic extension that sits on top of the toilet bowl in place of the regular toilet seat. We also call these ‘raised toilet seats’. The tall toilet seat either clamps onto the existing pan or uses the existing bolt holes for connecting a regular seat.
This variation tends to be more permanent as we have to change the location of the toilet pan, the connected drainage and incoming water plumbing to accommodate the altered height. In practice, it is a small platform base that sits between the floor and the toilet pan and raises it the required extra few inches. Check this link for more about raised toilet seats.
Cushioned toilet seats
These are for those people who have problems sitting for a long time on the toilet (or for those who like to read the newspaper) and need a bit of comfort. You can buy these as a padded seat incorporated into the ‘raised toilet seat’, as a separate vinyl covered foam pad or as an inflatable cushion.
We can use both the latter two with or without the ‘raised seat’. Whichever one you choose, be assured that it is hygienic and completely washable.
Mechanical toilet seat lift
Mechanical toilet seats take away all the effort entirely. They are especially useful if you have severe mobility problems. Many people who are confined to a wheelchair or who are bed-bound have these to assist their professional carers, who would otherwise have to lift them onto the toilet seat.
These machines have the toilet seat connected to a motor that tilts the seat from horizontal to vertical and back again. You stand against the vertical seat and lean against it. The motor then lowers the seat to the horizontal taking you with it. These come with grab rails or armrests so you can keep balanced while the seat moves.
Separate high frames
The high seats we’ve looked at so far are all fixed, either temporarily or permanently to the ceramic toilet pan. But what happens if you need a high toilet and are visiting friends or relatives? Separate high commode frames are the answer. You probably know that a commode is a chair incorporating a removable bowl.
We use these when we are confined to our bedroom and can’t easily visit the bathroom. The idea behind the ‘high frame’ is that the chair frame gives you the extra height, but there is a hygienic removable, wide diameter connecting tube from the seat to the toilet bowl to confine the waste.
The final type we’ll look at is exactly what you’d expect from the name. Manufacturers specially make the high toilet with a ceramic bowl. It incorporates the extra height within itself so you just need a standard toilet seat on top. You will find these expensive to buy and they must be installed professionally, so only consider this option if you expect to use it for many years to come.
Why do seniors need higher toilet seats?
As we get older, we lose strength and flexibility in our aging muscles. We are less able to use our joints properly, and we become more prone to injury.
Because of this, we are less able to do those activities that younger and more able bodied people take for granted. One of the most difficult things for those of us with limited mobility is to squat on a toilet. Or, once sitting we find it difficult to stand up again.
We can solve this problem by using a higher toilet seat so we don’t have to bend so much. Don’t forget to add a grab bar at the same time to help yourself stay safe and balanced. Although, some raised seats incorporate armrests to help ‘push up’.
If you have a tall toilet (or an attachment to make it taller) you will exert less energy while sitting down and standing up. You’ll find your balance is better and your knees will certainly thank you.
But, it’s not only knee problems that benefit. It will also help those with hip, back and leg problems. And, of course those of us who are taller than normal.