For seniors or anyone with limited mobility, using the bathroom can become a hazardous and humiliating experience. Using toilet facilities without assistance is an important part of maintaining dignity and independence. However, the bathroom is potentially one of the most dangerous rooms in the house! The surfaces can be slippery, there are lots of hard objects to fall against and there are often a variety of objects that you have to negotiate to get to the toilet itself.
The act of sitting on the toilet requires more skill and physical ability than many people realise. You need to have very good balance and strength in your legs to be able to shift your weight and centre of gravity as you lower your body into a sitting position and rise back up again. There is often not enough space to provide handrails for added support.
Many conditions such as dementia affect balance and chronic ailments such as arthritis make it hard to achieve this challenging physical activity. Also, older people can suffer from generalised frailty which is loss of reserve, energy and wellbeing as a result of natural ageing.
The British Geriatrics Society recommends that older people are provided with an environment that promotes privacy, dignity and independence. A commode toilet is one of the most popular bathroom aids and is an excellent way to maintain independence when toileting whilst maintaining safety. Here are the five main ways in which a commode toilet can help with bathroom safety and convenience.
#1 Bathroom privacy and independence
One of the most distressing parts of losing your independence is having to ask for assistance when using the toilet. This can lead to older people failing to use the toilet often enough which can lead to bladder and bowel problems as well as mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. With a commode, an individual can continue to use a toilet whenever they want to, including in the middle of the night.
This helps their sense of independence and dignity which contributes to their overall well-being and mental health. If they feel more positive, they are more likely to do all the other things that keep them well such as eating a healthy diet, gentle exercise and engaging with the people around them leading to an improved quality of life.
#2 Caregiver safety
Caregivers can also get injured in bathrooms when they are assisting frail or elderly people. Helping someone up from the floor is a hazardous procedure and can lead to back strain. Helping someone to use a toilet also places considerable strain on the caregiver’s body as they provide support and stability.
A commode is often fitted with additional safety features such as an adjustable height, non-slip rubber feet and strong support rails. If assistance is required with toileting, these features protect the caregiver’s safety.
Bathroom renovations are expensive! When you add up specialist equipment and the cost of installing it, the total can be several thousands of pounds. If you have to install a whole new bathroom in a new area of the house, it is even more expensive. A commode is a cost-effective way of providing toilet facilities where you need them.
You may be caring for a younger patient who will only require special toilet facilities for a short period of time while they recover from an illness or surgery. A commode is a useful temporary facility that does not require you to make structural alterations to your house that will need to be reversed in a few weeks.
One of the key advantages of a commode is that it is not fixed in one room. It is highly portable and can be moved around to suit the convenience of the user. It is often difficult to offer assistance with toileting in a traditional bathroom. They are usually the smallest room in the house and may not accommodate a carer as well as the person using the toilet. Commodes can be placed where there is plenty of room to provide support and assistance safely.
If you intend to move the commode on a regular basis, it makes sense to buy a lightweight model and one that folds up easily.
Unlike a traditional toilet, many commodes can be adjusted to suit the changing needs of the user. If an elderly person develops a problem with a knee joint, for example, the height can be increased so that there is less strain exerted on the joint. This results in greater confidence for the user and less anxiety.
Overall, the key to success when using a commode is finding the right model for your particular circumstances. The needs of each individual user should be assessed so that the correct equipment can be sourced.