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Help! I Can't Get Up

Assistive Devices Can Help When Arthritis Interferes With Basic Human Needs


Updated May 23, 2014

What Do You Do When You Can't Get Back Up?

It's the ultimate sinking feeling! Can there be anything which is more embarrassing or humiliating? You sit down on the toilet and you can't get back up. Immediately you're engulfed by a feeling of helplessness. You're trapped. Weakened by arthritis, the legs you depend on to carry you through life have failed you. It probably should not come as a complete surprise. Likely you have felt the strength in your feet, ankles, legs, or back diminishing. Perhaps you have had an inkling of difficulty rising from the toilet before or rising from a chair. Having difficulty is one thing, being trapped is yet another.

Facing Realities

Despite the severity of your arthritic condition, denial can trick you into thinking you could never be caught in such a predicament. It seems like one of those situations that only happens to other people. Not true!

One of our About Arthritis forum members wrote, "I have gotten stuck on the toilet more times than I can recall. This was particularly embarrassing when it was 3:00 in the morning and there was no one awake to listen to me cry. My mom finally had a grab bar installed on the wall directly across from the toilet. This has helped me enormously. Otherwise, I might still be sitting there."

Assistive Devices

While specially designed assistive equipment such as raised toilet seats, grab bars, and power lift chairs can solve the problem in your home, what about when you go out? In public places, handicapped restrooms are available. Don't walk past the handicapped restroom as if it's not for you. Chronic arthritis dictates that it is there for you.

Another About Arthritis forum member recalled, "I was in a public restroom once, and yelled for my best friend to help me. There we were, her pulling me up off the toilet, and of course, the stall door is open because we both don't fit in there. As we laughed hysterically, the look on the other women's faces was priceless! One woman grabbed her little girl and actually ran out of there. I guess they thought we were crazy. Since then, I have started using the handicapped toilets in public restrooms."


Foresight and preparedness are quite possibly the only way to avoid being trapped and unable to get up. Be wise, utilize assistive equipment, and remember not to venture into unfamiliar territory alone. Most importantly, don't take anything for granted!

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