Ask Ben: Does A Raised Toilet Seat Help?

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It is becoming increasingly difficult to stand up after using the toilet. Would a raised toilet seat be a good option and make it easier for me to stand?

– Terry S., Nassau County, NY
A raised toilet seat is a sturdy plastic cylinder placed on the toilet bowl to enable one to sit higher than the standard 15” toilet. They generally add 2” – 6” of height. This is an important consideration when standing up becomes difficult. Standing from a higher seated position, requires less effort than from a lower position. For a raised toilet seat to be safe, it must be ‘secured’ (A bracket tightened under the lip of the toilet). Without this bracket, a raised toilet seat can easily tilt or tip when uneven pressure is placed on it.
Another idea for sitting higher on a toilet is a standing or rolling commode. These provide a separate layer to sit on above the toilet and without the pail. Look for models that allow you to adjust the height. There are ‘up-lift’ commodes as well. These have seats with a mechanism that actually rise to assist you in getting to a standing position.
Another option would be to add grab bars. There are a couple of different kinds of grab bars which, if you have sufficient arm strength, can further help to lift yourself off the toilet. There are easy to install grab bars that attach to the back of the toilet seat itself, as well as rest on both sides of the toilet. There are also grab bars that secure directly to the studs in a wall, which can be placed next to and behind a toilet. These come in varying lengths to accommodate the space available. These options are specific for such use and provide needed safety. No matter how handy and convenient, please do not use a towel rack that happens to be in close proximity. It is not designed to accommodate the grip or pressure when standing up.
Any of these options can be helpful for both the person with ALS, as well as his/her caregiver. Because everyone has different dexterity and strength, and bathroom designs vary widely, it is best to have a conversation with your physical or occupational therapist to determine what would work best for you.

– Ben

To ask Ben a question, simply email him at blieman@als-ny.org or call at (212) 720-3057. Ben will answer all questions directly as usual, but not all questions will appear in the Monthly Update.
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