You’re more likely to fall in the bathroom than any other room in the house. Bathrooms account for 26% of falls that happen in the home (source). People with weakness and stability issues can slip sitting down on or standing up from the toilet.
A toilet rail is a metal frame surrounding the toilet that gives you stable arms to grasp and use for leverage when sitting down on or getting up from the toilet.
How to Choose a Toilet Seat Assistance Device
Click below to learn how to choose the right toilet sit-stand assistance device for your situation and for our favorite toilet assistance products. View:
- see my article: the best toilet stand-assist devices
- see the bestseller toilet seat lifts on Amazon
- see the bestseller shower chairs on Amazon
How to Know When You Need a Toilet Rail
Anyone having difficulty maneuvering the toilet sitting or standing can use a toilet rail.
These include people with weakness, instability, and lack of coordination. It includes anyone having surgery, or dealing with arthritis.
If the knees don’t bend, or staying straight and upright are problems, then the toilet rail can help keep you from falling down in the bathroom.
A toilet rail can help stabilize sitting and standing at the toilet for anyone with a weakness or stability issue, such as people who have had:
- knee replacement
- hip replacement (See my article How Preventing a Hip Fracture Can Save Your Life
- general surgery
- balance issues
How a Toilet Rail Works
You can get grab bars installed on either side of the toilet. This will be a good idea for someone who is unstable, and likely to push unevenly on the supports. Otherwise, you can get a relatively inexpensive toilet assist kit.
Installed or free standing, the toilet assistance device gives you arms for leverage when sitting down or standing up from the toilet.
Toilet assistance devices surround the toilet with legs either on the toilet base (under the seat) or on the floor.
You might need to assemble your toilet assist device. This can be very simple or more complex than you’d want to take on by yourself.
Some toilet assists surround the toilet on both sides. This design gives the frame stability.
Others sit on the toilet base, under the seat. These do not get stability from the toilet because they sit on rather than around the toilet.
Keeping the Toilet Rail Stable
With a floor frame, the toilet bowl is between the two sides of the rail.
If you push down hard on one side, the foot on the opposite side will raise a bit. The toilet will prevent it from moving more than a bit.
But do understand that a toilet rail is not anchored to the floor, so there can be some play in its movement, especially if you apply uneven pressure on the arms.
Good toilet rails also come with soft, grippy rubber on the feet and arms.
Are Toilet Rails Portable?
Toilet rails are relatively portable. They don’t fold down into a pocket-size unit.
If you are just moving the rail within the house, you might be able to lift it and carry it intact, without disassembling it.
If you’re moving it in a car or outside the home, you can break it apart into parallel pieces that are relatively lightweight.
The pieces are a bit large, so if you are putting the rails in the car, you need to think about how they’ll fit.
How to Assemble a Toilet Rail
Toilet rails are usually made from two or three pieces that fit together to make the unit. You will tighten the connections with intrinsic screw-downs or with nuts and bolts that come with the set.
How to Clean a Toilet Rail
You can disinfect a rail with a spray and wipe it down. Or you can wash, rinse and dry it if it needs a good cleaning. Squeeze any extra water out of rubber grips to prolong their lives.
A Toilet Rail Does Not Raise the Toilet Seat
How deeply you bend to sit on the toilet depends on the toilet’s height. The toilet rail does not change the toilet height. You’ll have to bend just as much with the rail as without it.
If you are having trouble bending to sit down, you might benefit from a toilet riser. This is a device that raises the toilet seat so that you bend less to sit down.
Toilet riser seats are usually made of anti-microbial plastic that sheds urine and solids to some degree. While they don’t absorb the soil, they don’t shed it like water off a duck’s back, either. You need to keep the toilet riser clean just as you would clean the toilet itself.
You Cannot Safely Use a Toilet Rail in a Tub
Some customers ask if they can use a toilet rail in a tub or shower. The answer is “absolutely not.” This is a horrible idea, so please do NOT put a toilet rail in a tub.
A bowl-based toilet rail wouldn’t give you any benefit in the tub, so that’s out of the picture. A floor-based toilet rail gets its stability from the toilet bowl. Without the bowl to catch a tipping frame, there’s nothing to stop the rail from flipping sideways.
If you are hanging onto a rail in the top that flips sideways, you’ll be lucky if all you get out of that is a concussion and a broken hip.
Use a shower chair for stability in the tub. These have four feet with non-slip rubber to give you more stability in the tub or shower.
You Cannot Safely Use a Toilet Rail for Help Standing from a Couch or Chair
Do not use a toilet rail to help sitting or standing at a couch or chair, either. You can get devices specifically for help with couches and chairs that offer far more stability than a toilet rail can give you. Those devices use the weight of the couch or chair to give you stability.
Use the links at the bottom of the page to learn more about chair and couch standing assistance devices.
Is the Toilet Rail Itself a Tripping Hazard?
A toilet’s rail’s feet extend into the room just enough that your foot might touch one while you’re sitting down.
But when you stand up, the toilet bowl should prevent you from coming into contact with your feet.
If the toilet rail feet extend past the toilet bowl, the frame is incorrectly installed and dangerous. Push the rail to the wall behind the toilet so that the feet are not extended into the room.
If you look at the picture below, you can see that the girl’s feet reach past the tips of the toilet rail’s front feet. There is a small section of rail that is parallel to her feet. Users consistently say they do not have tripping issues with this design, and that makes sense. When you are sitting, the tip of the footing is parallel to the back of your feet. But once you are standing, the bowl prevents your feet from going back to where the rail feet sit.