No one loves needing help in the bathroom which, for most of us, is the most private of places.
But, much too often, seniors and the elderly begin struggling behind the closed doors of the restroom. The first signs are difficulty standing back up safely after using the toilet. As muscles weaken, strength decreases. Medical conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, and neurological disorders worsen the problem.
But, rather than calling for help, one solution is to replace your current toilet with a taller toilet that makes it easier for you or your loved one to get up and down.
A Quick Tutorial About Toilet Heights
Toilet heights can vary greatly. If you have ever shopped for a new toilet for your home, you’ve seen the long aisles full of various options at your local home supply store.
When you see a toilet height mentioned, it is essential to understand that it is the height from the floor to the top of the bowl. It is not the height to the top of the toilet seat itself. It is also not the height to the top of the tank.
Common toilet heights:
- Standard Height Toilets are usually 15 to 16 inches tall. Although, some manufacturers are squeaking by at 14.5 inches and then rounding up.
- Chair Height Toilets are generally 17 inches tall because this is the average height of a chair. A chair height toilet is also often referred to as an ADA Compliant toilet.
- Comfort Height Toilets is a marketing name created by the Kohler Co. for their taller toilets. Like often happens in the retail market, this term became the generic word for tall toilets. This term is used for toilets that range from 17 inches to 19 inches.
If you’d really like to get into the details of toilet heights, see this article from Sunrise Specialty.
How Does Toilet Height Affect Seniors and the Elderly Specifically?
Generally, older adults who struggle while standing up from the toilet will benefit from a higher toilet because it takes less effort and leg strength to push themselves up. But there are a few other considerations that you should take into account when choosing the best toilet height for seniors and the elderly.
What is the User’s Height?
It is essential how tall a user is; more specifically, though, their leg length matters. If you think about a human in the seated position, the length from the bottom of the foot to the back of the thigh determines the proper chair and toilet height.
Can A Toilet Be Too Tall?
Absolutely, a toilet can be too tall.
Families tell me, “I want the highest toilet I can get!” But, this isn’t a good solution either.
Because sitting on a toilet that is too tall with your feet dangling can lead to leg and back pain and even cut off the circulation to your legs and feet. Standing with numb lower extremities is a terrible idea for an elderly person and could cause a fall.
So, taller adults require taller toilets while shorter adults can get by with shorter ones.
How Can You Get The Right Sized Toilet?
If you really want to geek out over getting your toilet at the optimal height, sit your loved one on a chair with a firm surface. Ensure their knee is close to a 90-degree angle and their feet are flat on the floor. Then, measure from the floor to the back of the thigh.
That measurement is the minimum height you should choose. Often, the optimal size is to add 2 inches to that measurement because this makes it easier to stand while also allowing you to keep your feet on the floor.
Buying Guide: Key Decision Making Factors
There is so much more to buying a toilet than you may realize. Here are the crucial features of toilets specifically as they apply to older adults and bathroom safety.
Take Into Account Your Space Requirements
Because you don’t want to buy a toilet that doesn’t fit, look at the space your toilet takes up. Also, look at the surrounding area. Take measurements of your current toilet (length, width, and height) and take those to the store with you.
Elongated bowl toilets are usually narrower than round bowl toilets.
How High Do You Need the Toilet to Be?
You should know this from the lower leg measurement you took in the previous section. Choose a toilet that is that height plus about 2 inches. Don’t forget to take the seat size into account and any accessories like bidets or raised toilet seats.
What Type of Bowl Do You Need?
There are two main categories of toilet bowl type – elongated and round.
Elongated bowls are longer in the front and more of an oval shape. This type is more comfortable because of that extra space.
Round bowls are almost perfectly circular. They are smaller and take up less space. So, they are best if you have a small area to work with.
Of course, the seat shape must match the bowl shape. Don’t forget this if you are looking to replace the seat.
Whoosh… Think About the Flushing System and Water Consumption
The flushing system is essential because some are more effective than others.
The flush shouldn’t use too much water when flushing but be powerful enough to clear the bowl.
Don’t forget the flush handle also. Standard tank and lever systems are easier for the elderly because they are familiar with them. The levers don’t require a lot of force to push either. But, they use more water.
Power flushing systems use less water because they force the water through the system faster at a higher pressure. But, these can be harder to activate. I have one at my home, and it takes a good bit of force to push the button down all the way.
Most manufacturers tell you how much water per flush their product uses so you can know upfront what to expect.
Toilets come in one-piece and two-piece designs. While many people think this is a matter of design, there are some practical reasons to choose one over the other.
One-piece toilets are easier to clean and maintain because they don’t have seams where dirt and grime can hide. On the other hand, two-piece toilets are easier to replace if you crack your tank. With most of them, you can replace just the tank portion without replacing the entire toilet.
How Much Work Is Needed to Install It?
Unless you are planning out a new bathroom space, you will need to consider removing the old toilet and installing the new one.
This isn’t a project for the faint of heart. Let’s face it – it’s dirty work and labor-intensive.
If you will be installing it yourself, read the installation manual and ensure you have everything you need, including new seals, etc. You could hire a plumber to do the replacement for you if it’s more than you want to tackle. I have some other options below that don’t require as much work.
Price and Warranty
Tall toilets generally do cost more than standard height toilets. But you can get a good one for around $300 to $500.
Look at the warranty period, especially for toilets with a power flushing unit. Of course, you want the most extended warranty period you can get.
My Recommended Taller Toilets
Taking all of that into account, here are the taller (and extra tall) toilets that I recommend based on my 20+ years of experience working with seniors in the durable medical equipment industry.
Convenient Height Extra Tall Toilet (20 inches)
This extra tall toilet by Convenient Height Company is an excellent option because it offers many of the same features as the bigger brands but at a lower price. Plus, it is one of the tallest toilets on the market!
The total height of the convenient height toilet from the bottom to the top of the seat is 21 inches (20 inches to the rim). This means that elderly, disabled, and even tall family members or guests can comfortably use it.
The dual flush valve is great for saving water when using this toilet. The bowl uses 1.28 gal for a full flush and 0.9 gal for a light one. Its handle and valve are durable plastic materials that won’t suffer corrosion over time if appropriately cleaned. Plus, it is easy to activate for aging hands, even those with arthritis.
It is durable, long lasting, and will stand the test of time.
- Conserves water with the dual flush system
- Extra tall height is convenient for all kinds of users
- Handle and valve made to last
- Easy to install with a little plumbing experience
- A slow-close seat is included
- The seat is not as stable and firm as some users might prefer. Might need to add a better after-market seat.
TOTO Drake 2-Piece ADA Toilet with Elongated Toilet Bowl (16.5 inches)
The Toto Drake Toilet (TOTO CST744SSL#01) is another excellent option for your bathroom regarding tall toilets. It has a sleek design that makes it an asset to any bathroom. It also helps you save water since it uses just 1.6 gallons per flush.
The Toto Drake Toilet is ADA compliant with a comfortable height and an elongated toilet seat and is a popular option for elderly users. The bowl’s height is 16.5 inches, so taller seniors may need to add an elevated toilet seat (or choose another option). While it meets the ADA guidelines, taller options are available for those who need them.
The toilet uses eight psi water pressure and a unique commercial-grade flushing system to deliver a powerful flush. It comes with a SoftClose seat, which means that you never have to worry about it slamming and disturbing people in the middle of the night.
I also like that the handle is located on the side of the tank, so there won’t be any interference with the toilet seat lid or other toilet safety devices.
- It saves water with each flush (uses just 1.6 gallons)
- The SoftClose seat means that there’s no seat slamming
- The advanced flushing system delivers a strong and reliable flush.
- The seat has an elongated shape and comfortable height
- Easy to install and clean
- The design of the seat makes it a bit tricky to attach it
- Because of the tank lid design, you cannot put anything on it
WoodBridge Dual Flush One Piece Extra Height Toilet (17 inches)
The Woodbridge brand is popular for those who need a tall toilet but prefer a more modern-looking design. The T-0019 extra height toilet features a seamless modern design with elegance and ease of upkeep in mind. There are fewer nooks and crannies and smoother angles, making cleaning easier.
The flush system offers two options: a partial flush that delivers 1.0 gallons per flush and a full flush that uses 1.6 gallons. The siphon flushing system has a powerful yet silent flush. This reduces the chance of a clogged pipe.
A push button activates the flush system on the top of the tank. This is an excellent location because it won’t get blocked by other equipment. But it takes a good firm push to flush.
The seat is at the comfort height level (17″), making it a good option for elderly users.
- Design is sleek and modern with a skirted design for easy cleaning
- Fits all kinds of bathrooms
- Easy to install without special tools
- Silent flush system
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Flush buttons located on top of the tank so users have to first lower the lid to reach the buttons and flush the toilet
American Standard Cadet 3 Right Height Round Front (16.5 inches)
The American Standard (2988.101.020) Cadet 3 is a 2-piece system with an impressive bowl and cistern design. The smooth outer finish is easy to clean and won’t gather dust and debris like other toilets. It is even mod and mildew resistant.
It uses an advanced flushing system that can handle over 1000 g of solid waste in just one flush. It has a large siphon trap way to reduce clogging, and there are no choking points. The Cadet 3’s powerful flush only uses 1.28 gallons per flush, which is nearly 20 percent less than a typical model.
The height to the top of the bowl is 16.5 inches. If you use the included seat, the total sitting height will be about 17.5 inches.
I love the flushing lever on this toilet because it is wider than most. This makes it easier for people with hand weakness or arthritis to use it.
Another reason to choose this one is that it is widely available at most home supply retailers.
- Uses just 1.28 gallons of water per flush
- It comes with everything you need to install it
- Silent closing seat feature
- Powerful flush system
- Easy to clean
- If the bowl breaks, you might have to replace the entire toilet
KOHLER Memoirs Stately Comfort Height Elongated Toilet (16.5 inches)
The Kohler Memoirs comfort height toilet comes with chair-height seating that makes sitting on it and getting off as easy as standing from a chair. It is a 2-piece toilet that combines water-saving flush performance with an excellent style.
The Kohler Memoirs has a concealed trap that allows easy cleaning while enhancing the overall performance. The company designed the nooks and crannies for stress-free cleaning.
Its exterior performance is improved with a chrome trip lever. However, it is small and could be hidden because it is on the front of the tank.
The toilet height is 16.5 inches to the top of the bowl. Note that this toilet does not come with a seat! So, you can decide what size you need with this toilet by choosing the seat thickness you want.
- Comfortable height seat
- Powerful flush that eliminates clogs
- Efficient with water use
- Seat sold separately
Cheaper Alternatives to Raising the Height of Your Toilet
You might not be ready, willing, or able to replace your entire toilet right now. Sometimes a home remodel is just not possible. Or, you might not have the money for this kind of expense. And that’s ok!
Here are some practical bathroom accessories you can use to raise your toilet height:
1. Replace Your Current Seat With a Thicker One (Adds 1″ – 2″)
One way to achieve a higher toilet seat height is to replace your current seat with a thicker one.
These specially designed tall toilet seats come with spacers attached to the underside. Installing a thicker toilet seat is a simple and seamless way to raise the height of an existing toilet seat.
There are some limitations, though. This method works best when you only need to add an inch or two to your toilet height.
2. Install a Toilet Riser Under the Existing Toilet (Adds 2″ – 4″)
Another option is to install a toilet riser under the existing toilet. These elevated platforms raise your toilet from the bottom – think of it as a large spacer.
Toilet risers come in different heights that range between 2 and 4 inches. One of the most popular options is the Toilevator which is available at multiple retailers.
This video shows you how to install a toilet riser, so you’ll know if this is a project you want to tackle or not.
3. Install A Raised Toilet Seat (Adds 2″ – 6″)
Installing an elevated toilet seat involves removing your existing toilet seat and replacing it with a raised seat. Some raised seats bolt through the existing holes while others snap or clamp onto the current seat. These products can add 2 to 6 inches in height.
They also come with or without handles. Models with handles provide additional leverage, making it easier to stand up from the toilet.
This video shows you how to install a raised toilet seat:
CAUTION: My professional opinion is to avoid the blow-molded models that simply sit on the toilet rim. While those are convenient when other people use the toilet, they are less stable than models that bolt onto the existing seat holes on the toilet.
4. Install a Toilet Safety Frame
Installing a toilet safety frame over the toilet is yet another option. These devices don’t raise the toilet seat height. Instead, they provide raised arms to give you more leverage for pushing yourself up to stand.
Toilet safety frames have a reputation for being unsafe also. But this is because most people don’t install them correctly. They must be bolted to the toilet (in the seat attachment holes) for safe and secure use.
This video walks you through the installation of a toilet safety frame.
A few models are designed to be used as stand-alone frames and have more supportive bases. If you choose one of these, read the instructions thoroughly and make sure you install and use them correctly.
5. Use a Bedside (3 in 1) Commode Over Your Existing Toilet (Adds 3″ to 7″)
Bedside commodes are designed for people with mobility problems who cannot get to the bathroom safely.
But, there is another use for these, though. If you remove the commode bucket and place it over your toilet, it becomes a raised toilet seat.
Most 3-in-1 commodes have adjustable height legs and a seat. The adjustable legs raise the seat to a height between 18 and 23 inches.
The best bedside commodes also come with a hard plastic liner. Place the liner between the commode and the toilet to ensure all contents are deposited directly into the toilet. This reduces splashing because it fills the gap between the potty chair and the toilet seat. It will save you some clean-up as well.
Some models even come with drop away armrests that allow wheelchair users to slide directly from the seat of the wheelchair to the commode seat. Folding models are also available for portability. Some models also have a padded seat for people with pressure-sensitive skin.
This video shows you how this works:
6. Use a Mechanical or Powered Toilet Lift
A mechanical toilet seat lift is yet another option to enhance the height of your toilet seat. This option will cost you more, but it saves you the mess and effort of replacing the existing toilet.
Mechanical toilet seat lifts use pneumatic lifting systems or springs that provide additional “push” when getting up. Others rely on electricity or batteries and can fully assist you from seated to standing.
Mechanical or powered toilet lifts typically vary in their maximum heights. Some electric models can raise the toilet seat as high as 26 inches!
Some models come equipped with wheels, which is helpful if you are having trouble walking to the bathroom. The wheels allow the caregiver to push you into the bathroom before positioning the chair on top of the toilet.
Here is an installation guide for this type of product:
The Carex Commode Seat Riser is a popular product in this category and is available at multiple retailers.
RELATED POST: Best Bathtub Lifts for Seniors
How tall is the standard toilet?
The height of a standard toilet is about 15 inches from floor to seat.
How tall are comfort height toilets?
The height of comfort height toilets typically ranges between 17 and 19 inches.
Does the ADA recommend a toilet height?
The height of comfort height toilets typically ranges between 17 and 19 inches.
What is the difference between a round bowl and an elongated bowl?
The critical difference between a round bowl and an elongated bowl is,, the shape. The round bowl resembles a circle and tends to extend less into the bathroom, while the elongated model tends to protrude outward into the room from the front, because of its oval shape. The elongated bowl is approximately 18.5 inches long on average, while the round toilet is about 16.5 inches long on average. The round bowl is the conventional, traditional type, while the former has a more modern appeal.
What is the highest toilet you can get?
The highest toilet you can get is between 20 and 21 inches in height.
Summary and Final Recommendations
The aging process is inevitable while disability is nobody’s choice. So, you don’t have to put an end to your independence because of either.
By knowing their options, seniors aging in place can be confident and comfortable right in their own homes.
Installing tall toilets for elderly people can make a huge difference in your ability to properly and safely take care of yourself. The extra inches of height requires less effort, energy, and concern whenever you visit the bathroom, and you can keep some of your independence intact.
Which option is better? Replacing the toilet or adding an assistive device to your current one? Please tell me what you think in the comments below!
Also, if you found this article helpful, please share it on your favorite social media.