I have already written posts relating to the fact that the vast majority of toilets both in public and private places nowadays are lower than in many previous decades (eg ‘Penny-Pinching on the Porcelain’ and ‘Not Going Out’). I have described how, because of knees damaged by a type of Autoimmune Arthritis, I am totally unable to sit on low seats and because of this am seriously limited to where I can go and for how long I can be away from home. Specially adapted disabled toilets are available in places such as supermarkets, airports, stations, hospitals, etc and larger business premises but visits to friends, family and smaller establishments such as pubs and clubs, can be, for me, highly problematical. Older folk are often criticised for not wanting to go out as often as they used to and I think that inaccessible toilet facilities are often the reason behind this reluctance. It can be an embarassing subject so it is not discussed and fit, able-bodied people are just not aware of these problems that some of us have. This blog post is about some of the ways I have developed to cope in order that I may maintain as much of my social life as possible.
Firstly, I carry in my handbag a retractable tape measure. If I am unsure as to whether I will be able safely to sit down on a toilet somewhere, for starters I measure the height from the floor. Anything less than 43cm (17”) is beyond my capabilities. Even when the seat height is 43cm other factors pertain. If the space between the toilet seat and the cubicle door is not sufficient, or the seat is loose, then I cannot get up unaided, so it can be a bit of a gamble! Even the seat height in many designated disabled toilets is only 43cm but at least in most of these there are hand rails supplied either side and plenty of space for a helper if needed.
Secondly, when I am away from home and known surroundings I use a larger handbag in which I am able to carry a ‘device’! I have found that an aid called a Uriwell is an absolute lifesaver on such occasions when no accessible toilet is available to me. Unlike some of the other aids on the market this one is by far the most reliably safe and easy to use in my experience. It can be used whilst standing in a toilet cubicle then immediately emptied, wiped down with an antiseptic wipe and replaced in a suitable anonymous plastic bag back at the bottom of the handbag.
And finally, when I am away from home overnight at a hotel for example, I now take with me a portable riser seat which I have found available from an online supplier. Unlike the many and various other toilet seat risers on the market this one is truly portable and can be fitted and removed from any normal toilet seat in an instant. Although it is by its very nature large and bulky it is not unduly heavy and I have taken it in my suitcase when flying to Europe on holiday. I have also used it at a hotel in this country and for this type of use, instead of having to put it in a suitcase, I designed and made a special padded carrying bag so that there was no embarassing problem getting it from the car through hotel reception. I have actually bought two of these wonderful riser seats; one I keep in its special carrying bag for holidays and similar, whilst the other resides permanently in the closet next to the down-stairs toilet at my son’s family home available for me to use whenever I visit.
The two products I have mentioned have truly made a difference to my life. The Uriwell is available from many outlets but I only know of one supplier for the riser seat. var=540052832977&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649