Commodes for the Elderly

It may be a topic that makes some people uncomfortable, but there may come a time when a commode becomes necessary for yourself or a loved one. A commode is a portable toilet that is used inside the home when a person cannot reach the bathroom. There are several variations, but it basically looks like a chair and typically has handlebars around it with a receptacle below it for waste that is emptied and cleaned. There is no running water attached to a commode.

Who Needs to Use a Commode?

When a person has limited mobility, so much so that getting up to get to the bathroom is a challenge, a commode may come in handy. A commode can also be useful if someone is recovering from an injury and is immobile. It can be used on a temporary basis until a person feels stable enough to walk to the bathroom once again.

Types of Commodes

There are different types of commodes to accommodate a variety of needs a person may experience.

  • Bedside Commode- This is the most common type of commode. It stands alone and has a toilet seat, frame, and a removable bucket to catch waste. There are bedside commodes that stay stationary and those that fold. Since the waste bucket is removable, many bedside commodes can also fit over standard toilet seats to provide extra support and allow for a raised toilet seat. This is a good option if a person can still walk to the bathroom but needs some extra support. Some of these commodes can also fit inside of a shower if need be. They are often called 3-in-1 commodes because they serve three functions; beside commode, raised toilet seat, and shower use.
  • Commode with Wheels- These types of commodes are useful if they are going to be moved around a lot. It alleviates the issue of picking it up and carrying it somewhere for the caregiver.
  • Bariatric Commode- This is a heavy duty commode made for people who weigh over 300 pounds. Some bariatric commodes can support up to 1,000 pounds. This commode often has a padded seat that is deeper and wider than a standard one.
  • Shower Commode Mobile Chair- This chair looks like a small wheelchair, but is also equipped with a commode bucket. It can be rolled right into a shower (provided the shower is large enough) and used while a person bathes. These types of chairs are made out of rust-proof materials making them perfect for use in the shower. There are adjustable height and angle footplates as well to provide the most comfort possible.
  • Drop Arm Commode- This type of commode looks like the standard bedside commode but has the option to drop the side arm. This allows for patients to easily move from a bed onto the commode. Once a person is safely transferred, the drop arm goes back up in place for support.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Commode

Once you determine what type of commode is suitable, there are other things to consider.

  • Is there someone who can clean it regularly? Since the person using the commode probably won’t be able to do it, be sure someone is able and willing to do it.
  • Do you need one that can do more than one thing? If you just need a standard commode now but foresee you will need one that’s mobile in the near future it may be wise to invest in the dual-purpose one now.
  • What are the measurements of the space? If you’re planning on using the commode in the shower take measurements to be sure it will fit.

Does Insurance Cover a Commode?

Medicare Part B will cover 80% of the cost of a commode if it’s ordered by the doctor. You will pay 20% of the cost and the Part B deductible will also apply.

Although Medicaid coverage is decided on a state by state basis, commodes are generally covered by Medicaid. Also, if you have Medicare Part B and Medicaid it is likely that Medicaid will cover the 20% that Medicare did not. This means no out of pocket cost for you. It’s a good idea to see what rules apply where you live.

Another option is Veterans’ benefits. These benefits typically cover durable medical equipment, such as commodes. It’s best to see what your individual plan covers to see what you’re eligible for when it comes to home supplies.

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