Help! Oldies Need Age Friendly Loos.

” 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.


  1. November 13, 2016 / 3:26 am

    Haha, yes that must be the cleanest Rugby Club song ever – my Dad used to sing it on occasion!
    Love the new verses, and how opportune that you should post this now – did you know that it is World Toilet Day next week?
    Hoping to link to this post if you are agreeable?

  2. November 13, 2016 / 9:30 am

    You are brilliant! Had no idea! How opportune! How do you know theses things?
    Yes please, promote it in whatever way you think. Thanks.
    Age friendly places is a theme worth pushing and seems to be catching on.
    Amazed to discover that the younger generation at my class don’t know the song ! But maybe you need to play rugby? Or was it Girl Guides?


  3. November 13, 2016 / 12:14 pm

    A very real problem and a very humorous take on it😊🤗

  4. November 13, 2016 / 1:41 pm

    Bernadette, thanks ! I am sure it is right to tackle ageism with humour.
    Glad you agree. We do need to campaign! Any help welcome!

    You have a brilliant blog. How did you do it? Where do find the time and energy!!!!🤗😇

  5. Sue Turnbull
    November 14, 2016 / 12:42 am

    And I thought it was just me.. and the Asian Udon loos…if you think sitting is hard, squatting is far, far, worse. Believe me, I’ve tried it in the last month. Not for the fainthearted.

    • November 14, 2016 / 1:02 am

      Yes! Totally embarrassing. Maybe we should have kept it up from when we were kids?

  6. Beaumont Sally
    November 14, 2016 / 12:39 pm

    Agree to it all!
    The following sent to me from Canada:
    Good start for a monday morning!

  7. Laura Mae Pigg
    September 21, 2019 / 8:40 am

    I didn’t learn this old rugby song until I was in graduate school! I had no idea there were more words to it!!! Ha! We live, we learn!

    When my home was freshened up the contactor put in a Cimmaron toilet by Kohler. Extra high,extra wide! Love it!

    When I visit someone’s home I request a straight back chair. Generally they are heavier and higher. I have had major disasters sitting in the new low sofas. Giggle. I have had some awkward rescues from soft couches. Tee-hee. Thanks, I am not alone. Laura

  8. jemima
    September 21, 2019 / 5:49 pm

    i agree with every word said, but feel less-than-hopeful when loo-providers (libraries, pubs, restaurants, you-name-it) haven’t yet grasped the need for ENOUGH loos. whilst the “ladies” queue curls three times round the taps and driers, out the door, and halfway round the block; in walk the gents and almost straight out again. perhaps we should tell these people that the provision of a grab-handle to help us get up AND a hook on the door to place our bagS (including the backpack you mentioned in an earlier blog) would halve our in-loo time and shorten the queue!
    the other point is that, as our “resident” physio, how about a couple of exercises to strengthen those knees and their muscles, whether before the rot has set in or afterwards??
    oh, and another pet hate of mine is that whilst loos have become narrower the sanitary-wear tubs have become larger, so it’s impossible to use the loo without brushing up against the tub. unpleasant!
    and then all those “wonderful” modern sinks with ill-chosen taps, where it’s impossible to wash hands without spraying frontal regions with a shower of water.
    and … and … and … oh dear, we really do need someone to address this problem don’t we!

  9. September 29, 2019 / 4:02 pm

    I was browsing in google about a cane that can help my Grandma to regain her confidence and walk easily again. this incredible cane with double handles, a powerful LED light, safety alarm & wrist strap.😍😍Helped Her to Get up and sit down without anyone’s help.

  10. jemima
    September 30, 2019 / 2:31 pm

    actually that cane looks quite marvellous ~ and if it works as well as it suggests, a reasonable price for the benefits it offers. but how much does it weigh? (looks rather heavy, and i have problems with carrying weight around with me) nb: i’ve written to them and asked.

    it would be marvellous if we could have someone “road test” this for us ~ so if any of us buys one, perhaps they could report back and say whether it’s as helpful as it looks?

  11. jemima
    October 4, 2019 / 6:22 pm

    answer: 480g. that’s just over a pound. for an adjustable, foldable, 4-in-1 stick, that doesn’t seem too bad.
    yacine, how’s your grandma doing with it? thanks for letting us know about it.

    • yacineltd
      October 22, 2019 / 6:15 pm

      she realy liked the Clever cane

  12. jemima
    February 24, 2020 / 3:15 pm

    i’ve been looking at the bbc web pages today, debating toilets. should they be free? should they be accessible? should there be enough of them? a new train in wales has no loos at all, and people are being told to use a loo on the next platform ~ and then wait an hour or two for the next train!
    an “expert” has said there should be twice as many for women as men, but i’ve noticed a trend for three-part “pissoirs” being provided for men in busy night-time areas. and the “ooh, let’s smile about it” moment is provided by a toilet on a roundabout in oxfordshire displaying a female mannequin with her head down the pan and her legs in the air. but this is an important issue and shouldn’t be trivialised.
    should we all write to our local mp about it, explaining the need for some minimum standards to be met? or would we do better to dress up as a “poo emoji” and demonstrate, as one mother has done?
    it would be so nice to think we might get the message across in our lifetimes. we need SUITABLE loos.

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