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The Art of Toileting: 4 Steps for Seniors & Disabled

Posted on by Armando Carrillo

OT and client explore safe toileting solutions in Lifeway Mobility Denver showroom

Dale is wheelchair bound and will soon be discharged from the hospital. He doesn’t have a lot of support at home, and because of his disability, his immediate concern was not being able to get his pants up on his own after toileting. Accompanied by his OT, Whitney of Spalding Rebah PSL, and her OTA student, they toured the Lifeway Mobility showroom in Denver and explored various bathroom accessibility solutions.

Below are 4 steps Dale & his OT followed that can help make toileting graceful and independent for older adults and those with disabilities.

1. Toileting Height

Customizing your toilet height is step one of toileting for anyone with mobility challenges. If you are standing and sitting, the height of the toilet is very important.  The most common toilet height is 13 inches, but a taller toilet can make standing up and sitting down so much easier. Newer toilets are ADA height or 15-16 inches.

toilevator from Lifeway Mobility for safe toileting

Also, you can add a porcelain insert called a toilevator underneath the toilet (red arrow in image above) to add 3.5 inches more or add a elevated toilet seat for 5 more inches. A bidet is another option that can added for easy cleaning, warm water, warm seat, and other luxuries. Bidets can replace the seat on any toilet. They do not need a second seat or a transfer and do not require a power outlet close to the toilet.

2. Shower Chair or ShowerBuddy

woman uses showerbuddy to safley shower

A second step to make toileting an art, is consider a bath or shower chair that rolls over the toilet. These types of products are made at the correct seat height to roll over the toilet, and eliminate the transfer to the toilet. In the seat is a cutout so that you don't have to move from the rolling chair. These chairs can also roll in to the shower for bathing and cleaning. The ShowerBuddy has the advantage of connecting to a bathtub or shower and allow the seat of the chair to slide into the tub or shower.

3. Overhead Ceiling Lift

During the visit, Dale was educated on the SureHands ceiling lift with the Body Support system. This overhead lift setup is great because it grips in just the right places when lifting: Under the thighs and under the arms. It mimics the arms placement and gentle lift provided by a caregiver. Best part is that it can be operated independently.

The OT demonstrated the use of the ceiling lift from a bed while Dale looked on.

An OT demonstrates the use of a SureHands ceiling lift system to an elder disabled customer at Accessible System's show room in Denver

It was then Dale’s turn to test the SureHands ceiling lift out, from his wheelchair. This required some extra hands during the initial trial run, which is common.

an elder man in a wheelchair is assisted by OT's and an Accessible Systems specialist as he is fitted for the SureHands ceiling lift system

A sling variation was then attached to the ceiling lift. The goal was to find the best solution that would help Dale toilet independently, while remaining comfortable and painless.

4. Bedside Commode

Most health care professional will recommend a bedside commode, which is like having a plastic toilet in your bedroom. Bedside commodes are helpful but typically a last resort. A bedside commode is made of a steel or plastic frame with a bucket under the toilet seat.

Art of Toileting Summary

In all, the show home tour, the education about the various toileting solutions, ceiling lift systems, and the actual trial runs took the group just over one hour.

The end result? Dale found his ideal body lift and transfer solution and left with a smile under his mask, and newfound reassurance that he’ll be okay on his own once he gets home from the hospital.

older adult uses ceiling lift body support to safely use toilet in bathroom

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