Safety Tips for Elderly Toilet Use

Falling is one of the most common and dangerous accidents for older adults, and falls happen frequently when going to the bathroom.

Although it might be embarrassing for them to ask, many seniors might need help getting on and off the toilet. Even if your loved one has remained independent, they might still need a little help when they go to the bathroom because it is easy for falls to happen when hurrying to the bathroom, or when sitting or standing from the toilet due to blood pressure changes.

Caregiver Safety is Important

If you are the family caregiver, you likely haven't had formal training in safe lifting and transfer techniques, so it’s too easy to hurt yourself when you’re helping your older loved one. These safety tips allow you to help your loved one use the toilet, while reducing the risk that you’ll get injured yourself.

Basic Safety Tips for Elderly Toilet Use

Getting to the bathroom safely can take some time. To reduce the chance of an accident, make regular trips to the bathroom to reduce urgency – try after meals and every couple of hours.

  • Allow your loved one to walk to the bathroom at their own pace, but stay close and be ready in case they wobble or trip.
  • Once they’re near the toilet, ask them to use small steps to slowly turn around until the toilet is directly behind them.
  • Encourage them to move on their own as much as possible to reduce the risk of injury for both of you. Your main responsibility is to be there for balance and stability as they lower or raise themselves.
  • Never lift your senior outright or ask them to pull on you. This is likely to cause injury to one or both of you.
  • Hold on to their trunk and hips to keep them stable as they lower or raise themselves. Don’t pull arms or legs, as this could injure fragile extremities or throw them off-balance.
  • Always bend your knees and have a steady base with your feet when supporting your loved one as they lower or raise themselves. If you bend at the waist, you risk injuring your back.

Transferring & Lifting Techniques

  • Ask them to lower themselves slowly onto the toilet seat while placing their hands on your forearms. Steady them with your hands on their trunk. Bend your knees as they lower themselves.
  • Before standing up, ask them to scoot forward a little and place their hands on your forearms before slowly raising themselves up. Keep your hands on their trunk and bend your knees.
  • Don’t let them hold on to their walker as they sit or stand because it could tip over and cause a fall.
  • If they are transferring from a walker to a toilet seat with arms, have them reach take their hands from the walker and place both of them on the toilet seat arms. They should keep both feet firmly on the floor as they lower using a squatting motion.

Clear Communication is Important

Before making any move to help, use short sentences to explain the next step so your loved one knows what to expect. Also give them plenty of time to execute the steps before moving on to the next.

For example, you could say the following instructions:

  • The toilet seat is right behind you. Squat down slowly to sit.
  • I’m going to help you stand up now. Scoot forward on the seat.
  • Lean forward and put your hands on my forearms when you’re ready.

If you feel more comfortable having a professional care provider aid your loved one with transfers and toileting, American In-Home Care always refers qualified and compassionate care providers that can perform a variety of services, including Companion Care, Personal Care, Live-In Care, and Respite Care. Contact us today at 1-844-505-0004 to schedule your free in-home consultation to discuss your care needs.