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When Seniors Need Help Using the Toilet: Safety Tips for Caregivers

elderly toilet use

Seniors may need help getting on and off the toilet

Even if your older adult is pretty independent, they may still need a little help when they go to the bathroom. It’s easy for seniors to fall when walking to the bathroom in a rush or when sitting or standing from the toilet due to blood pressure changes.

Safety first for caregivers

Because family caregivers don’t get formal training in safe lifting and transfer techniques, it’s too easy to hurt yourself when you’re helping your older adult. These safety tips allow you to help your older adult use the toilet and reduce the risk that you’ll get injured.


Basic safety tips for elderly toilet use

  1. Encourage them to move on their own as much as possible to reduce the chance of injury for both of you. You’re mostly there for balance support.

  2. Never lift your senior outright or ask them to pull on you. This is likely to cause injury to one or both of you.

  3. Hold on to their trunk and hips to keep them stable. Don’t pull their arms or legs, that could injure fragile extremities or throw them off-balance.

  4. Always bend your knees when supporting them as they lower or raise themselves. If you bend at the waist, you risk injuring your back.

Clear communication is essential

Before moving, use short sentences to explain the next step so your older adult knows what to expect. And give them plenty of time to do what you ask.


  1. The toilet seat is right behind you. Squat down slowly to sit.

  2. I’m going to help you stand up now. Scoot your butt forward.

  3. Lean forward and put your hands on my forearms when you’re ready.

Getting to the bathroom safely

  1. Allow your older adult to walk at their own pace but stay close and be ready in case they wobble or trip.

  2. Once they’re near the toilet, ask them to use small steps to slowly turn around until the toilet is directly behind them.

DailyCaring tip: Getting to the bathroom safely can take some time. To reduce the chance of an accident because getting to the toilet takes longer than expected, make regular trips to the bathroom to reduce urgency – try after meals and every couple of hours.

How to sit and stand safely

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Don’t let them hold on to their walker as they sit or stand because it could tip over and cause a fall.

Example: This image gives you an idea of the positioning and sitting technique when using a walker and a toilet seat with arms. But instead of the pictured foot position, keep both feet firmly on the floor and sit using a squatting motion. Your older adult will be steadier, stronger, and more balanced than the woman in this picture.

elderly toilet use

By DailyCaring Editorial Team Image: Boomers with Elderly Parents


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