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For Boomers & Their Aging Parents

Design: New Ways To Solve Old Problems

Let me be honest.  I hate that piece of equipment known as the toilet commode.  For those of you who don't know to what I'm referring, here's a picture:
 
standard toilet commode
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I believe the commode was originally designed to be used near a bed for those who could not make it into the bathroom (hence the portable potty), and for that use it's quite functional and appropriate.  However, the commode is also being used by people who are having difficulty raising and lowering themselves onto the toilet.  This unattractive apparatus is often placed over an existing toilet in order to raise the seat height and afford some stability while sitting and standing.  You'd be amazed at how many homes of Seniors I go into - of all financial means - where I find this particular piece of equipment.  And while I can appreciate the fact that the commode is prevalent because it is inexpensive and requires no professional installation, I'm surprised that so many find it an acceptable solution to the problem.  For me, the thought of walking into my bathroom every day and seeing this contraption over my toilet is simply depressing.
 
Fortunately, there are a couple of options to improve toilet height that actually combine function with design.  Numerous manufacturers now offer comfort height toilets which are about 2-2 1/2" higher than standard height ones.  Standard height bowls are about 14" from the floor plus seat, while the comfort height bowls are usually 16-17" from the floor plus seat.  The extra height really does make a huge difference in safety and comfort when attempting to sit or stand.  Ask anyone who's tall, has bad knees, or a bad back.  And most importantly, the cost difference between a standard and a comfort height toilet is minimal.
 
So which would you prefer to look at every day?
 
                                                
                       OR  
 
 
comfort height toilet
 
 
 
 
 
                                                                              
Commode placed over toilet   
                                                                                                                        Comfort height toilet
 
wall hung toilet is still another way to raise toilet seat height.  During installation, the toilet can be set at a custom height for ease of use.  I particularly like the fact that they're easy to clean around.  Note though, that cost and installation of a wall hung toilet is more expensive than a comfort height one.  Would anyone guess that the bathroom below is designed specifically for someone with mobility issues?  
 
 
                                                                   Wall hung toilet
 
      
And while I'm on the topic of bathroom equipment, another piece of equipment frequently found in homes is the shower chair.  This plastic and aluminum chair is designed to be placed in an existing tub or shower for those who want or need to sit while showering.  The only problem is that this chair takes up a lot of space in a standard sized tub, often needs to be shifted around when a spouse wants to shower or bathe, needs to be removed when cleaning the tub, and does nothing to enhance the style of the bathroom.  
                 
                                            
standard shower chair           
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Instead, today's solution is a fold-down seat that can be installed on the back wall of the tub/shower.  When not in use, the seat folds back up against the wall and takes up no floor space.  When needed, however, it easily pulls down in place.  These seats are installed in the same way grab bars are installed - with heavy duty anchors to hold the seat securely in place.   Check these out:
 
 
                                                                      
                                                
folding teak shower seat                                           
 folding wood shower seat                                          
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Replacing standard issue equipment with new plumbing fixtures and accessories can not only make a huge difference in the look of your bathroom but also in the way you feel.  Really - who wants to be reminded on a constant basis of their physical disabilities?  Happily we now have many product choices and no longer need to rely on the old standbys.  It should be our goal when renovating to accommodate aging in place that our homes stay design friendly and not deteriorate into repositories for free standing, temporary equipment.
 
 
 Susan Luxenberg
 President
 HomeSmart LLC                                    

8 Comments to Design: New Ways To Solve Old Problems:

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John Terrick on Friday, April 8, 2011 7:00 AM
I would like to raise my already installed wall hung approx 4 inches. Everything is copper piping. What suggestions might you have?? thanks. John
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Susan Luxenberg on Friday, April 8, 2011 4:19 PM
Hi John, When we say that wall hung toilets are adjustable what is meant is that they can be installed to the height you want. Unfortunately, if you want to adjust the height after the toilet is installed, you’ll need to open the wall up again to amend the rough plumbing and any support in the wall for the seat. It's do-able, but going to cost you for plumbing and the mess of closing the wall up again. Susan


Fatehgarh Sahib on Thursday, April 4, 2013 4:31 AM
This great blog is very interesting and enjoyable to read. I am a big fan of the subjects discussed. I also enjoy reading the comments, but notice that a lot of people should stay on topic to try and add value to the original blog post.
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Portable toilets manufacturer on Thursday, October 2, 2014 2:54 AM
yes, i totally agree with you that for old age people and for theme who can not reach till the bathroom. We are portable toilet manufacturer based in India. Thanks
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Thermal Shirts on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 8:49 PM
Hello there. These toilets can be tremendously beneficial for those that have extreme difficulty getting from one location to the next.
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brenda collins on Sunday, January 3, 2016 1:22 PM
my mother has one of these toilets, it is a godsend


Brenda Collins on Sunday, January 3, 2016 1:21 PM
My elderly mother has one of these toilets and I must say it is a godsend
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Henry Carol on Monday, January 4, 2016 4:16 PM
The wooden seat looks stylish
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