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:
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?
Commode placed over toilet
Comfort height toilet
A 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?
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.
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:
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.