How to Choose the Best Toilet Height for Seniors

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Selecting the best toilet height for seniors is more important than you may think. With age, sitting down and standing up from a low toilet becomes more difficult as muscle strength decreases and mobility issues arise. As a result, falls around the toilet are common. Luckily, by choosing the proper height toilet and toilet accessories to adapt the commode to fit the user’s needs best, you can maximize toilet safety and independence.

Choosing the best toilet height for seniors is important for home safety and independence.

What toilet height is best for older adults?

Which toilet height option is best for the elderly varies from person to person and is determined by several factors. Generally speaking, a toilet a few inches higher than a traditional toilet or standard toilet bowl height will work best for most older adults.

When determining the best toilet height for seniors, there are three main objectives:

1. The ability to sit down and stand up with ease 

2. The ability to put feet on the floor while seated on the toilet

3. Comfort

These slightly higher and accessible height toilets go by many different names. Still, they are most commonly referred to as “comfort height.”

The best toilet height is determined by comfort, if feet can touch the floor and ability to sit down and stand up from the toilet.

Some toilet names are specific to a particular brand or toilet manufacturer. There’s nothing like a bunch of terms referring to the same thing to make choosing a toilet more confusing.

Names for higher toilets

  • Comfort height toilet
  • ADA height toilet or ADA-compliant toilet
  • Universal height toilet
  • Chair height toilet
  • Handicapped toilet or handicap toilet
  • Convenient height toilet
  • Comfortable height toilet
  • Right height toilet
  • Tall height toilet
  • Taller height toilet
  • Senior-friendly toilet 

What is the difference between comfort height and standard height toilets?

The difference between comfort height and standard height toilets is simply the distance from the floor to the top of the toilet bowl. This distance is usually 2 to 4 inches in height, depending on the toilet style. 

A standard height toilet is generally between 14 and 16 inches from the floor to the top of the toilet bowl. 

Toilet height matters more than most people realize.

A comfort height toilet is usually between 17 and 19 inches tall, measured from the floor to the top of the toilet bowl. This is also the adult and senior toilet height specified by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

You will see ADA toilet height used, although the Americans with Disability Act does not apply to residential toilets unless government funds are used.  

Thinking only a few inches couldn’t make that much difference? Think again. Frequently, this more accessible toilet height is the difference between a senior transferring to and from or standing up from the toilet safely and independently instead of needing help from another person.

How to measure toilet height

The correct way to measure the height of a toilet is to find the distance from the floor to the top of the toilet bowl rim.

Sometimes the measurement includes the additional height of the toilet seat.

Helpful Hint: Check which measurement is used before making decisions regarding toilet modifications and installation. 

How do taller toilets benefit seniors?

Taller toilets make it easier to sit down and stand up from a toilet seat for people of average height or taller.

Shorter people may find taller or comfort height toilets too high, causing their feet not to reach the floor while sitting.  

For people who transfer onto a toilet from a wheelchair, a toilet close in height to the wheelchair can make moving from wheelchair to commode easier. An accessible toilet height should be customized to the specific needs of the wheelchair user. This may involve choosing a wall-mounted toilet that could be hung higher than the highest toilet height available in models that sit on the floor.

What are the disadvantages of tall toilet height?

  • Shorter adults may find taller toilets too high, causing their feet to dangle rather than reach the floor.
  • Younger children may have more difficulty using a higher toilet because of their height.
  • A higher toilet seat makes it more challenging to have a bowel movement, a problem that occurs more frequently with age.
  • A squatting position is a more natural and comfortable position to eliminate waste from the body. You can have the benefits of a high toilet seat and optimal positioning for bowel elimination by using a toilet stool, such as a Squatty Potty.

What type of toilet is best for the elderly?

The best toilet type for seniors will depend on the user’s needs and the bathroom design.

There are 3 main styles of toilets:

  • One-piece toilet: Available in various shapes, sizes, and heights
  • Two-piece toilet: Available in multiple shapes, sizes, and heights
  • Wall-mounted toilet: Available in different shapes and sizes and can be hung on the bathroom wall at any height where plumbing is available.
There are several different types of toilets such as one-piece toilets and wall-mounted toilets.

Are there extra tall toilets for the elderly?

Yes, some manufacturers are making extra tall toilets for seniors and taller people of any age that are even higher than comfort height toilets, making the toilet seat height over 20 inches high.

Another option for a higher toilet is to use a wall-mounted commode hung at the exact accessible toilet height needed. These may be especially useful for tall or disabled people who need a specific toilet height for wheelchair transfers.

How does toilet height impact bathroom safety for seniors?

The height of a toilet is an essential factor in bathroom safety for the elderly. A study found that people over 65 years old were more likely to fall when using toilets with low seat heights than those with higher seats. When toilet seat height is low, it’s more difficult for older adults to stand up and sit down, increasing the risk of falling.

Alternative ways to make a regular toilet seat higher 

There are many ways to modify a toilet to create the best toilet height for seniors.

How can toilet height be increased without installing a new toilet?

There are numerous ways to create an elevated toilet seat without installing a new toilet. These solutions may be helpful if a higher toilet seat is only needed temporarily, such as after hip replacement surgery. They may also be beneficial if you’re not ready to replace your loo. 

Replace the existing toilet seat with a taller toilet seat

Install a toilet seat with integrated lift blocks to raise the toilet seat a few inches above the toilet bowl rim height. 

Add a toilet seat riser

A toilet seat riser is a plastic platform that attaches between the toilet bowl’s top and the toilet seat’s underside, providing a few inches of additional height. These come in different sizes and have options with stationary or flip-down armrests. 

Elevate the entire toilet

Install a platform that fits underneath the existing toilet base and the floor to raise the toilet by several inches. One such product, the Toilevator, increases the overall height of the toilet while using the same toilet seat. 

Use a bedside commode frame over the toilet

A bedside commode has an adjustable height metal frame that can be placed over a toilet or used elsewhere with a collection bucket underneath. There are many different bedside commode models: with or without armrests, permanent or drop-down armrests, with or without a backrest, and wheeled models. 

Add a raised bidet seat

Here’s a solution that adds extra functionality to the toilet. Raised height bidet toilet seats may provide enough extra height to make using the bathroom more comfortable. This article discusses the benefits of bidets for aging in place

Install a mechanical toilet seat lift

Although not commonly found in residential bathrooms, mechanical toilet seat lifts are an option. For those who need additional help to transfer on and off the toilet, a toilet lift will physically perform the movement for the user who is unable to do so. 

Toilet accessories to make using the toilet easier

Toilet rails 

An alternative or addition to raising the height of the toilet may be to install toilet rails to assist with transfers on and off the commode.

Toilet rails, also known as toilet safety frames, can be attached to the toilet. They provide armrests and are used to assist in getting on and off the toilet.

One way to make toileting safer is to install toilet safety rails.

Stand alone toilet safety frames are also available. These freestanding devices are not attached directly to the toilet, but fit around the toilet and are supported by the floor.

Another type of toilet rail is a grab bar mounted near the toilet. Several grab bars placed strategically surrounding the toilet are frequently used to get on and off the commode successfully. If there is no wall where a safety bar is needed, rails can extend out from a wall, be attached to the floor, and even extend from floor to ceiling.

Helpful Hints: 

Always check the weight capacity for any toilet device or add-on as it can vary significantly from product to product.

Measure your existing toilet carefully before purchase because toilet-related items generally cannot be returned because of hygiene concerns.

There are many different products on the market; even ones called “universal” may not fit all situations. 

Are comfort height toilets more expensive?

Like other home products, toilets are available at various price points depending on their quality and features. Since comfort height toilets are now widespread and readily available, their price is generally comparable to standard height toilets.

As you can see, many factors are involved in creating the proper toilet seat height for seniors. But many different products are available to modify a toilet shape or style to best fit your needs now and in the future.

FAQ

Which toilet bowl shape is the most comfortable?

Toilet bowls generally come in round and oval or elongated bowl shapes. Most people find an elongated toilet bowl shape most comfortable for various reasons. An elongated toilet bowl is usually more comfortable to sit on and makes standing up easier because there is more surface area on the toilet seat than a round-shaped toilet. Elongated toilets are also easier for men and children who sit to use the bathroom since there is more space at the front of the bowl.

Square toilets are gaining popularity in the United States and maybe even be more comfortable than oval toilets. A square toilet is closer to a standard chair shape, and the increased seat surface at the back of the thighs could increase comfort and make it easier to stand up from the toilet. 

Even dogs appreciate the best toilet height!

Can toilet height affect bowel movements?

Yes, toilet height can affect bowel movements, an issue commonly associated with older age. Since a squatting position helps the body eliminate waste, a higher toilet that reduces the squat position may make this process more difficult.

A solution to restore the squatting position while maintaining a more accessible toilet height is to use a toilet stool such as the Squatty Potty in combination with a higher toilet seat.

About the Author

As a home health Physical Therapist for over 20 years, I help clients solve home dilemmas so they can live their best life.

I'm here to use that same problem-solving expertise and training as a Certified Aging in Place Specialist to help you create an optimized home that's forward-thinking and future-ready to support you and your loved ones well for a lifetime.

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