Although the word commode can be confusing, the most common interpretation especially when it’s used with regards to seniors is “a chair bearing a chamberpot or potty within its seat”.
While one might think that commodes are archaic or are no longer relevant in this time and age, the truth is that they’re still very much relevant. Only caregivers to seniors, disabled people, and invalids would best understand this.
Now, bear in mind that a commode is quite different from a potty or chamberbox. While potties and chamberboxes are stand-alone containers, commodes are shaped like chairs to give the user maximum comfort. So, it’s fair to say a commode equals a chair plus a potty.
Why are commodes ideal for elderly seniors?
It’s much easier for a young or middle- aged individual to use a potty for toilet purposes. All they have to do is find the potty, squat on it, start the “action”, and rise up after they’re done. This is quite easy because they have strong bones and muscles.
In the case of elderly people, however, things are not as easy. Due to their weak bones and muscles, most seniors won’t find it easy to squat on a potty or rise from it. But it’s much easier for them to sit on and rise from chairs of appropriate height. This explains why using commodes (which are made like chairs) is far easier for them than using just potties.
Commodes make life easier for caregivers, too. Rather than having to carry or support your senior relative all the way down to the toilet many times a day, you’d simply drag the commode closer, help them onto it (some can even use it themselves), and discard the contents conveniently.
Portable commodes for elderly seniors: Factors to consider when buying
As a caregiver, you’d have understood that commodes make life easier. But in order to get the best out of a commode, you need to make the right choice when buying. Don’t just rush to buy any commode you stumble on.
Before buying a commode, be sure it has met all the following criteria.
- It must be of appropriate height. If it’s too high or too low, the user won’t enjoy using it. To be safe, go for one with adjustable height.
- It must have side rails to provide stability and protect against falls.
- It must be lightweight. You sure don’t want to have to call someone else to assist you whenever you want to carry it.
- It must be strong and durable, or you’d have to go out shopping for a replacement very soon.
- It must support the weight of the intended user. So, if your senior relative weighs about 300 lbs., for example, don’t buy a commode with a maximum weight support of 250 lbs.
- It must be ergonomically designed for maximum comfort. If for any reason the user seats on it for a prolonged period, it shouldn’t hurt in any way.
- It must have a splashguard. You don’t want the user to infect themselves, and you don’t want to get splashes of feces or urine on the floor.
Best portable commodes for elderly seniors: Our top 3 picks
The market is flooded with portable commodes by several different brands and of different shapes and sizes. And this only explains why making the right choice can be quite confusing.
To make thing easier for you, we have scoured the market and compared various brands and models of commodes — with the aim of figuring out the best options available in terms of real buyer opinions, product features, pricing, and other important factors.
And here are our top 3 picks.
1. Medline Drop-Arm Commode
The Medline Drop-Arm Commode isn’t the cheapest commode you’ll find in the market. But in our opinion, it’s the best for seniors (elderly people), and it’s well worth more than its price. What else could be more comfortable for the elderly than a commode that has a well-padded seat and recliner?
Shaped like a regular chair, the Medline Drop-Arm Commode is built for maximum comfort. Aside that it’s well padded, it comes with arm rests that can be swinged out of the way when necessary (this can be done with the push of a button). And the height can be adjusted to suit any user. Adjustable to up to 23 inches tall, this commode is suitable for not just short, but very tall users as well. The included potty is deep enough and comes with a lid and splash guard.
The Medline Drop-Arm Commode is very easy to assemble (you’ll need a large screwdriver, though), and it can be converted into an over-the-toilet safety frame by removing the recliner and potty. It supports up to 350 pounds of user weight.
- Overall commode isn’t collapsible
The Medline Elements Bedside Commode looks very much like a chair. So, if you’re looking for a commode that doesn’t really look like one, then this is your best bet.
The Medline Elements Bedside Commode comes in a sturdy build. The seat and backrest are both made of hard plastic, but that still doesn’t deprive the user of comfort. Note, however, that the seat isn’t padded. The seat adjusts in 0.5-inch increments for a perfect fit, so the commode can work for users of any height. And it’s large enough to perfectly conceal the commode when not in use. It’s a bit elongated to accommodate big users comfortably.
Under the seat lies the potty, which is large enough and comes with a lid and splashguard. The commode also has armrests for added comfort and stability during use. And it comes with a toilet roll holder attachable to the armrest. It’s easy to assemble and lightweight enough to be carried easily. And it supports up to 400 pounds of user weight.
- Not collapsible
- Seat and backrest not padded
The NOVA Medical Products 8700-R Folding Commode combines both strength and simplicity, and yet goes for an affordable price. As with others on this list, the commode is easy to assemble with no tools required, and it comes with a bucket, lid, and splash guard. The design doesn’t do much to conceal the real use of the product, but that shouldn’t be a problem; everyone understands.
The height of the NOVA Medical Products 8700-R Folding Commode can be adjusted to suit any user. It comes sports both an armrest and a backrest for additional comfort and stability during use.
What makes the NOVA Medical Products 8700-R Folding Commode stand out from others is that you can collapse it completely into a portable frame. This, which you can do and undo within seconds, makes it great for travel and storage. It supports up to 300 pounds of user weight.
- Seat and backrest not padded
Additional recommendation: Buy commode liners
For easier and more hygienic handling of wastes collected in a commode bucket, it’s highly recommended that you also buy a pack of commode liners with your order. These are nylon bags used to line the bucket for collecting wastes. So, rather than have wastes going directly into the commode bucket, they go into the disposable liners, some of which come with adsorbent pads to suck up liquid waste, thereby preventing messy outcomes.