How to Make a Bathroom Handicap Accessible


There are several pieces of equipment that can allow easier access to the facilities of a bathroom.

  • 3-in-1 Commode (a.k.a. Bedside Commode)
    • This unit is portable, easy to place by the bedside at night or remove the bucket and place it over the regular toilet. This not only raises the height of the seat, making it easier to stand up, but affords arm rests from which to push. These are height adjustable.

  • Shower Chair
    • These come in several styles and sizes. They come with or without backs. They are designed to fit in a shower stall, or can be placed inside a bathtub. If reaching your legs and feet to bathe, or the standing endurance of a shower is taxing, this is an option. These are height adjustable.

  • Transfer Bench
    • These fit regular bathtubs. The seat is extended to come out over the edge of the tub. This allows for seating outside the tub, then simply pivoting to swing legs over the tub edge. It eliminates the act of stepping over the tub edge, adding safety. These can be found in plastic or padded vinyl. To use a transfer bench, sliding doors must be removed - a curtain is best. Height adjustable.

  • Grab Bars
    • Grab bars come in plastic, chrome or stainless steel and can be found in several different lengths. Places grab bars can be handy are: by the commode, on the back wall of the bathtub, above the fixtures of a bathtub, and vertically aligned with the tub edge for safer stepping.

Look in the Yellow Pages under Medical Supplies for special equipment needs.

Bariatric Equipment

Be sure to check the weight capacity of any commode frames, shower chairs or transfer benches. Most hold somewhere around 250-300 pounds. If you need something more durable, baratric equipment is available with over 500-pound capacities. Most of this equipment is reinforced on the bottom with cross-bars for extra support.

Drop-Arm 3-in-1 Commode


3-in-1 commodes can also feature what is called a "drop-arm." There is a lever that allows the release of one of the armrests, allowing it to drop away for easier transferring. If you have a particularly difficult transfer to make to the commode, a drop-arm might be just the thing you need. It allows for more of a squat-pivot to the commode, as opposed to a stand-pivot which in some cases can be much more difficult to accomplish.


  • Be sure to take up throw rugs to avoid tripping dangers.
  • Avoid pulling on towel bars to get up from seated positions or to assist in standing - install grab bars as needed.
  • Place towels on surfaces to sit as you towel-dry after bathing - you are slippery when wet!

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Comments 2 comments

Kat07 profile image

Kat07 8 years ago from Tampa Author

Thanks, bellows - I checked it out - great info, but I wish they had pictures?

Kat07 profile image

Kat07 7 years ago from Tampa Author

Being 8 1/2 months pregnant and coming up on a c-section, I finally caved and bought a shower seat.  Between this seat ( and my adjustable height hand-held shower head, bathing was a lot easier today!

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