The bathroom is an “under-innovated” space for tech aids, but sadly also an overrepresented space for seniors’ falls.
Perhaps that’s why it’s no surprise that developers of a mechanical toilet seat lift have been so busy. They recently raised more than $1 million in seed funding and conducted several successful pilot programs.
The company is hoping to expand its reach within the senior living and care space, SedMed CEO Jeremy Bronen told McKnight’s this week.
The seating device is the SedMed Toilet Lift. It can elevate up to 80% of its body weight and assists with getting a user both on and off the toilet.
“We want, at our core, to protect older adults from falls in the bathroom and make the bathroom experience more prideful, dignified and independent,” Bronen explained.
Falls are the leading cause of death among older adults. Some 80% of bathroom injuries are caused by falling; seniors are at greater risk for hospitalization or injuries such as hip fractures, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.
In addition to reducing any physical strain in using the toilet, the goal is also to take some pressure off caregivers who are often responsible for assisting, and physically lifting, their charge on and off the toilet.
The company’s first pilot partner and official customer is Lutheran Senior Services in the St. Louis area.
Bronen joked that he did not always intend to become a “toilet entrepreneur,” but that the SedMed seat came out of a project while he was a student at the University of Connecticut, helping an elderly woman who was struggling to get around her house.
The SedMed is fully mechanical and does not require any electricity. Other toilet-related innovations, like the TrueLoo “smart” seat, use different models or methods.
SedMed’s weight-adjustable seat was designed to be easy to control and adjust, so that seniors can have confidence in the concept, Bronen said.
“I think that seniors, they can sometimes be afraid of change in general,” he said. “and sometimes they can be afraid if they become reliant on something then they will lose their independence. But in reality they may have ‘lost it’ and that is what they need.”
For now, the company is currently offering free pilot trials to LTC facilities.
In the near future, plans to finish developing a remote patient monitoring tracker that analyzes toilet usage and frequency; the company also may look into mechanical solutions for other areas where seniors struggle, including the shower or kitchen, Bronen said.