” Oh dear! What can the matter be?
Many old ladies stuck on a lavatory.
They were there from Monday to Saturday,
And nobody cared they were there.”
Old song often sung in Rugby clubs!
So what is the matter?
Strange things happen when you are over seventy. Chairs, sofas and toilets all start to shrink. You could have sworn they were higher before. And you certainly swear as you try to get out of them. The desperate search for something to push on or pull on becomes funny, silly or embarassing, depending where you are and who with….
What has happened is that Knees and their working muscles are marginally failing. It starts around the age of 50, and it progresses slowly, sort of creeps up.* At 70 you really notice it and by 80 you are starting to look rather carefully before you sit. “Just how will I get out of that!”
Look at these chairs in a hotel lounge. Very elegant, but virtually no one ever sat in them. Why?
In the hotel breakfast room I counted the silver heads…over 70% were happy oldies.
Remember the school Physics classes when you did levers?
Your knees are like hinges, your thigh bones are like levers and when you are sitting, most of your body weight is at the far end of the lever. Without thinking about it, all your life when you have wanted to stand up, you have automatically leaned as far forward as you can so as to shift the weight nearer to the hinge and reduce the load.
As you get older, your Knees start to rust, the muscles weaken a bit, maybe you get heavier and suddenly you find you can’t lean forward enough to shift the weight. In a low chair the weight of that solid backside you have aquired is now lower than your poor old knee and levers can cope with.
Stranded! You start to push up on chair arms instead.**
But toilets don’t have arms. At least, only the disabled ones. What are you going to push on now? You search round. Perhaps the loo paper holder? Looks fragile. Can I reach the door handle? Put my hands on the seat and try? Maybe try turning sideways to get a hold of the cistern? No! Not enough space. Do I call for help? Cant open the door, its locked on the inside and I cant get up to do it anywway!!
Look at this!
Double problem. Nothing at all to grip on and the loo paper is taking up all the manouevering space.
Narrow toilet stalls are particularly difficult when you are old and get less flexible, especially if you need a stick and have unsteady balance.
And of course, the problem isnt just getting up, is it? If you are over 75 you will almost certainly have begun to realise that The Knees have objections to sitting down too. It is the same leverage problem in reverse. You lower yourself so far and then the problem kicks in. Your whole body weight moves towards the end of the lever, the muscles can’t hold and you suddenly collapse. Old Knees need higher seats. Just a few inches puts your hips a bit higher than your knees and the leverage changes dramatically. You can do it.
Public loos dont have raised seats. Yes there are disabled Loos. But I am not disabled, the majority of older people are not. Surely, they dont expect all of us Oldies, 30 % of the pop. to find locked disabled toilets and queue to use them, do they? We just need age friendly surroundings in ordinary settings.
Why has no one thought of these things?
Is it because designers are young? Is it because they havent realised the problem even exists? Maybe it hasnt yet dawned that older people are now a mainstream market?
Felt quite excited when I saw this. At last, someone has realised!
Wrong. Soon discovered it was for an adult and child. Lovely idea, but had no one thought that Grandmas are now key child carers!
A grab handle would have been so cheap and easy. And I bet a pregnant Mum would appreciate one too!
It is beginning to look as if a Campaign is needed!
Age Friendly Toilets here please!
And I don’t mean more expensive disabled toilets. Just ordinary ones with thought. A few higher seats, or handles, slightly wider ones etc? And maybe an AF label to say which ones?
We could Award AF Stars to every place which has thought it through.
It could be fun going round asking cafes,shops, museums, cinemas, bingo halls, if they have an AF Loo yet! We could soon put the pressure on.
*Anyone in their late sixties should be thinking hard. Keep your knees strong ..Ready.
** No one should use chair arms to get up! Your Victorian Governess would never have allowed it. Use your Knees. Dont let them get lazy.
For fun I re did the parody song above. Do you remember it? It goes on to name the ladies and their problems. Probably last sung at a Rugby club party…
Usually sung to the tune of: “Oh dear! What can the matter be, Johnny’s so long at the Fair”.
Oh dear! what can the matter be?
Many old ladies stuck on a lavatory.
They were there on Monday and Saturday,
And nobody cared they were there.
The first ones name was Marjorie Fane.
Sat herself down, and couldnt get up again.
With nothing to cling on she had to complain
Or stay the whole day sitting down.
The next ones name was Elizabeth Cullum
She too found out there was nothing to pull on.
Tried to haul up on the loo paper holder
But soon discovered that it wouldnt hold her
So had to sit there getting colder and colder.
Later came the hefty Jane Vickers
Tried to stand up and pull up her knickers
The space was so narrow, it just didnt fit hers
A panicky fear turned to genuine twitters
She collapsed in a heap on the ground.
A sad old lady was my Aunty Flo
Desperately needing to get there and go
Found she couldnt sit down, the seat was too low.
Tried crossing her legs, but no stopping the flow
She finished up in in total embarassment.