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How do I handle bathroom accidents?

My dad is incontinent but refuses to wear anything for it or wash his clothes. How do I deal with this without compromising his dignity?
Status: Open    Nov 17, 2014 - 07:20 PM


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Nov 30, 2014 - 05:01 AM

We do things quite matter-of-factly. When my mom has any sort of an accident, I'll come in behind her and treat the accident like an everyday chore, something that needs to be done- like the dishes or vacuuming. I don't make a big deal about any of them. I just do them without emotion. I don't get upset about the dishes, I don't get upset about bathroom accidents. Just something else that needs to be done.
It's not a matter of dignity, it's a matter of health.
Lots of luck.
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By Bless Caregivers on Jun 04, 2016 - 05:54 AM | Like (0)  |  Report

We forget that with Alzheimer's and most often, dementia, that decision making and reasoning are gone, damaged by this terrible disease, so is filtering, that's why things get said that can make us take a step back. Bathroom agendas are part of the worse, many caregivers feel this is there "now time" to relinquish their role. That being said, Depends are the way to go, and you may need a professional to encourage the transition, I did with my brother. Initially they got hidden, torn up, thrown at me, taken off. I was almost giving up, but, as I was instructed, I held firm and in time they were accepted as "just new underwear." #1 and 2 are at least self contained, less embarrassing for him if he is out and about. He will undress himself if he has an accident, knowing he's uncomfortable, clean up gets ignored of course. I questioned ripping up carpet, laying floor, easier for clean up, but I was concerned about him walking in it, falling. I needed a quick fix and less worry, so, got rubber mats and have them in front of bed and couch, where accidents were happening. When the dreaded #2 appears, I take them outside and hose them off, or cheap enough to throw out. Clean up is easier, no more scrubbing, less costly than new floor or carpet clean-up. Does it look pretty, no, but this disease isn't. So many encourage the wipes, but you risk clogging up pipes, an expensive fix. A quick shower is the best way to go, easier and faster. We have to remember explaining, encouraging are futile and if you're scolding you are in a bad place and may have to consider other decisions. Wrong to cause embarrassment or fear and just mean, my take anyway. Just remember to keep things easy, simple and quick for you. Get it done and relax, reward yourself. Don't forget to take care of you as well. God Bless Caregivers

By zjanny2003 on Jun 04, 2016 - 08:12 AM | Like (1)  |  Report

The rubber mats sounds like an excellent idea, and also being kind and not causing undo embarrassment, as well as keeping it simple and quick as possible is very important; but above all keeping a good frame of mind by not being angry and rewarding self will keep you happy as well as the one you are caring for.

By Bless Caregivers on Jun 04, 2016 - 12:12 PM | Like (1)  |  Report

Thanks for your encouraging words! Yes, quite proud of myself with the mat idea, $5 for a 36 inch long yoga mat, perfect for couch and bedside, clean up is easier, or just toss! What was I thinking scrubbing away, calling for professional cleaner, $100 a pop??? When I have an idea got to share with other caregivers, know we need all the support out there! God Bless

By ymassage on Jun 04, 2016 - 03:59 PM | Like (1)  |  Report

My neighbor is a nurse and she had this cleaver idea for our home. At Lowes or Home Depot you can by floor protectors for both hard surfaces and rugs. The floor protectors are plastic sheets that are rolled out and stick to the floor. When an accident happens I simply clean up on top of the plastic surface. If the clean up is a really big one...I just simply pull up the floor protectors that come up easily and don't damage the floor in any way and toss the mess out and start again with a new cover of floor protectors. My father in laws favorite color is blue so I purchase the blue plastic floor protectors to make his space look nice. You might think that the idea of floor protectors is slippery but they aren't. We have been using them two years now and had no falls.

To help reduce bowl incontinence incidents. I charted when he normally had his daily movement. Then had my husband ask him to sit on the toilet for 15 minutes, read a book during his usual time. He resisted at first, then my husband said, "Tell me why you would not want to do this? When I was a child you always enjoyed having that morning time in the bathroom. You have guide him to it regularly until a routine is set.

My husband just bough me a new car. He ordered neoprene seat covers from Hawaii for the seats my father in law sits in. So if an incidence happens in our new car. No worries we have water proof seat covers to take off and wash.

P.S. It took us two years of lots of negotiations to get my father in law to wear his depends.

By Bless Caregivers on Jun 04, 2016 - 05:43 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

Thank you so much for your advisement on the floor protectors, especially the slipping concern. I had the yoga mat, so used that, it's heavy, seems fine, but my Saturday aide, so I get a much needed "me" time tells me she thought I should tape it down, she slipped, I ? that, don't think it happened, yet thought my brother has the potential then, even though they are heavy, not going anywhere. He's ambulatory with no assist needed, Thank God, but I was concerned. She's great, actually got the showering and depends things when neither was happening for me, so, I do appreciate her concern, actually feel she's over protective, will point out little stuff that I am aware of, but she still gets 5 stars.
Anyway I'll look into the carpet protectors you mention, I have a Home Depot close by, open to change if a better choice and it will happen. I'm with you, too big of a mess, out they go, worth the $ if it saves me from scrubbing, smelling bleach, especially early morning & personal evening break. Thank you again, so helpful and I appreciate that! God Bless U

By Bless Caregivers on Jun 06, 2016 - 04:26 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

Ok, big problem with my mat idea, please help. My brother, afflicted with Alzheimer's, is having major concerns with the dreaded #2, so I decided to put rubber mats down where it was happening, mostly bedsides and couch front. Thought I had the perfect solution before I ripped up wall to wall carpeting and put flooring down, expensive yes, and the risk of falling for him, since he will walk in it with bare feet or socks, seems accident waiting to happen for him which I would hate to happen, Thank God he is still ambulatory. He seems to be avoiding messing on the mats, like he doesn't want to get them soiled, the #2 was almost under the bed, like he had positioned himself to avoid the mat. Do you think part of this could be a behavior concern? When he is upset with me, brother/sister dynamics has always been a challenge, he has said to me, "I'll poo." He will also say to me, "Clean it." He seems to want to be secretive about having an accident, turning over the couch cushion or putting the blanket over a dirty sheet. During clean up routine, yes, it's found, my smell and visual alive and kicking, trying to keep my humor here. It seems he wants nothing to do with the #2, holding his own with the #1, which I realize is easier for him. Bathroom reminders he doesn't appreciate, as well as direction or suggestions, washing of hands for example. It's much easier for me, healthier for him, to encourage a shower, happening more than daily these days. I'm going to just need patience with my mat idea, right? He'll adjust to this like he did with the need to change clothes, shower, Depends, accepting assistance. This "new normal" has been tough for him and me. The floor thing I know would be cleaner, but, even me mopping, or, an aide, it may be damp, just doesn't seem the safest way to go. Any suggestions or thoughts appreciated and thank you. I'm on a mission now. God Bless All Caregivers

By usheroes on Sep 17, 2016 - 08:56 AM | Like (0)  |  Report

It's hard. It's really hard. My dad is at the stage where he is aware enough to be embarrassed. My problem is his furniture (couch and chairs). It stinks! He will not wear depends. I am currently looking into the underwear that looks like underwear, but has the material in the crotch for accidents. Then, actually throw away all his other underwear so that all he has are those.
The thing that gets me with this disease is that they don't seem to notice that they haven't changed for a few days, but my understanding is that they senses are not what they used to be. Sometimes I simply have take the honest approach and say, " Daddy, you're 83 and some things don't work like they used to", then find a joke to make about it. many times he will agree, but unfortunately, with dementia will forget a minute later that we had the conversation. I look forward to reading many other comments as this is a very common issue.

By Bless Caregivers on Sep 17, 2016 - 10:16 AM | Like (0)  |  Report

Oh I can relate to where you are at and it's so hard, a prayer for you, and God Bless you for taking care of your dad. I am a caregiver to my brother, 70, with ALZ, doing this for 5 years now, can't believe that! I went thru the underwear thing, wanting the jockeys instead of the depends, when he became incontenent, it was occassional, so it was tough, now it's mostly all the time & everywhere as well, 1 and 2. I did call in help to change over to the depends, cause they were ripped up, hidden, thrown at me. I got the Real Fit by Depends, more costly, but they are a grey color, fit tighter like a jockey, he's visual so they were the best at the crisis stage, now I could probably change over. Yes, I was told to get rid of all the "old cotton" and keep a count of what was in the drawer, hold firm and stress the importance of depends, "If you want to go out, to work," worked for me eventually. This took time and it was so difficult, but your dad will get it, I went thru clothes and had carpet, furniture, walls ruined. This disease is tough, bleach, disposable covers, floor mats that are hoseable are now my friends. Someday his "cave" will be a do over job for sure. I am sure the sense of smell is affected and our loved ones just don't know. Just like it can happen and they are lost on what to do when it does. I have been very disappointed with help as well, a mess can be ignored, not cleaned at all, just a little even. Aides aren't paid enough I know, so, work ethics just aren't there. A caregiver ends up doing it all, we do a better job, we care about our loved one, our home, plus save money we need for our role. I've had the same concerns with private expensive help, yet they have got me over challenging hurdles, showering and depends the worse, they do seem to know what they are doing and I've used them to educate myself. You may have to reach out for help for your dad and you with the tough tasks, a good professional will help you as well. I listened and stood on the sidelines, hidden, to watch their tricks, amazing he did start showering and got into the Depends. Just know it's ok to fib to get things done, the reasoning is gone like smell, so, refrain from begging or pleading. I've found they like to make their own decision, just takes longer, yet it makes less agitation. Your dad, at 83, seems to be holding on to his old self. My brother is as well, yes I rather see that, even though it's a challenge for me helping him, but I sense he's trying to hang in. Take care of you as well, keep it easy for you, you matter too.🙏&💐

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Nov 30, 2014 - 07:22 AM

You could buy him some depends - they have a sample pack that includes a couple of sizes. And privately tell him how great these "new" products are and that he should try them..that you've noticed he may be struggling w this issue..if the conversation is going ok..then tell him you have notices his clothes are not as fresh--you want to be sure he's staying clean and healthy. I would also but him some wipes and powder...even do his laundry for him... And leave the stuff behind in his bathroom so maybe he will finally try them. Another product he may like better is the depend GUARDs - like a Kotex that you stick into your underwear. Good luck. My dad uses these products and they are a lifesaver!

Source: Experience

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By ckrpierson on Oct 26, 2016 - 03:51 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

Does anyone have a solution for cleaning stool from a bedside commode and keeping the odor down? Cleaned it right away with a bleach solution and dawn and sprayed Febreze aferwards. Any other suggestions? It's not so bad with the ring but today was the first time we used it for stool after a fall coming from the bathroom last night.


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Nov 30, 2014 - 12:57 PM

I have had the same problem. I buy depends but never refer to them as diapers, always underwear. It's kind of hard to get a person to "want" to wear something we use with babies if we keep referring to it as such. You may even make up a person that you know, real or not that uses them. Hell if all else fails use yourself as an example for having bladder issues. I realize the persons over all health is very important but dignity does play a huge part, whether or not the person is aware.

Dec 03, 2014 - 06:52 AM

i had the same problems with my mother till i purchased some incontinent pads and wipes. She isnt even aware of the accident until i tell her at first i would scold her but i realized she is confused and unaware. i have seen some pads at the store that look like mens underwear? maybe that will help u also might try a barrier cream to avoid skin breakdown from the incontinence good luck i hope this helps u

Feb 15, 2015 - 03:30 PM

There are always little dribbles of pee before I can get my Mom onto the pot. I wipe them up with the diaper I now have in my hand, throw the diaper in the can, and then when she's back in her GeriChair, I spray down the bathroom floor with a cleanser and clean the floor. I can't risk smells and bacteria. When there are smudges or plops of xxxx , similar procedure, except with a toilet tissue wad and then spray.

Feb 16, 2015 - 06:39 AM

My husband was the same. He thought he was giving in to the situation and that it was emasculating...which he was NOT ready for. We talked about it a, attitude, sexuality and alternatives..then I bought my own diapers and wore them even though I don't need them (yet). He noticed, of course, and after a few weeks of my raving about the advantages yet I didn't change my behavior toward him, he actually asked if they made any without flowers and I bought him several kinds, including the NASA brand made for astronauts. We talked about different "manly" professions that utilized diapers every day throughout their well as some that don't, but should.

He settled on th NASA product for the idea as well as the comfort. After he woke up dry several nights, I agreed to lay in bed with him until he went to sleep. Now he wears them all the time. Patience, rewards and conversation are working well so far. We are both professionals and have a lot of laughs about "if only I had them that time that.........(fill in the blank).

Sep 13, 2015 - 07:51 AM

My mom is beginning to struggle with this issue, especially during the night; she just doesn't make it to the bathroom on time. She refused to wear any of the products that she considers diapers, so I searched around and found some panties for incontinence. They have the pads sewn right into them and are washable. They're a little pricey on the front end, but when I calculated the cost of pads, Depends, etc., these panties are good for 200 washes, so it actually saves money. I searched on Incontinence panties and found these . They're a lot like what she's used to wearing, so she was willing to change. I removed her others and these seem to be working out well. They have them for men, too.


Sep 14, 2015 - 11:42 AM

Try just replacing the underwear that he has with Depends or other brand.
If he asks just tell him that you noticed that some of his underwear was a little torn so you got some new ones for him.
This should help absorb the urine as to washing clothes,,
Does he wash clothes himself or does someone do that for him.?
My husband would remove his clothes at the end of the day and place them on his chair for the next morning, I just started picking them up and folding clean clothes and putting the clean ones on the chair. I doubt he ever noticed.
If someone washes clotes for him this might work if he washes (or doesn't) wash his own try to get him to put the disposable briefs in another "hamper" to be "washed" later. I have on occasion washed an underpad and it is not pretty!!!
As to fit many of the disposable briefs have a pretty good fit and are barely detectable and he should be pretty comfortable.

Sep 15, 2015 - 08:54 AM

When my father-in-law started struggling with having problems making it to the restroom in time, we handled it as matter of factly as possible. My Mother-in-law was the one who refused to consider depends as she was so sure that he would be embarrassed by needing them, until the number of accidents made it ridiculous and both sons insisted. We told my father-in-law, who was also at the beginning of having some mental issues, that these were special underwear so that if he did not make it in time there would be no mess. His response? Why didn't we start using these a long time ago?

Source: Experience

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By zjanny2003 on Jun 04, 2016 - 12:45 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

For one who is aware of their problem and does not like feeling the mess on themselves and who has the strength to help in changing themselves, it is good to let that one try to put on their own Depends by themselves while sitting on the toilet in a safe position while caregiver observes and helps pull up Depend when needed. The one cared for can also use the toilet and wipe themselves off, or caregiver wash him/her before pulling up the Depend. Many times the one cared for likes that they had a share in their own care and likes the attention and assistance they receive.
The caregiver's being observant in all areas of the one cared for is important for happiness. Paying attention to their interests and what they like communicating about, helps the caregiver know what to get and do for them, which adds joy. Not only do the caregiver want things simplified, but so does the one cared for. Changing their clothes and cleaning them up as quickly and as comfortably as possible, and letting him/her have a share in it, makes them more agreeable, comfortable and happier, as well as the caregiver. An example - when bathing and changing - sometimes caregiver can have the one cared for stand up at the bathroom sink instead of sitting in the bathtub, and keep their soiled clothes on (to keep them warm), while having him/her follow instructions in washing them; and as soon as the washing-up is done, quickly and carefully take one piece of clothing off at a time, and replace them with the clean ones. This way of cleaning is so comfortable, and goes so smoothy and quickly, that when it is all over the one cared for is very pleased, especially initially and later welcomes the routine.
Keeping an eye out on the one cared for also calls for the caregiver to listen intently and observe their needs, likes and dislikes. When showing them a movie, the caregiver may notice a particular actor or singing group that they like. You can purchase a gift of their interest and give it to him/her. One such movie was "Fighting Temptations" where the "Blind Men of Alabama" came on and sang. A gift dvd was purchased featuring the Blind Men of Alabama, and it was much enjoyed on a daily basis, adding to the cared ones happiness and joy.
A need was also observed due to a weakness in the cared one's standing, causing wobbling. A new pair of shoes was purchased with hard bottom soles that gave more support. These replaced the soft bottom house shoes that was being worn every day in the house. This actually helped in keeping him/her walking for additional years without needing a wheelchair.
With attention, care, ingenuity, respect and love, life can be easier and happier for both the caregiver and the one cared for.

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Oct 07, 2015 - 01:36 PM

My dad resisted the same way. I started buying him men's "underwear" and told him in a variety of ways that he had to wear them. He fought me all the time and refused. Then I had an aide come in and she insisted. He didn't give her an argument and complied. It became a regular item for him after.

Regarding keeping wipes by the toilet, they're great but I HIGHLY recommend you strictly monitor their disposal. My mother was throwing them in the toilet which caused the pipes in my entire home to back up. 4 bathrooms and we couldn't use any of them! Couldn't shower, use the diswasher or clothes washing machine either. The back up was so bad, we had to call the city. Two weeks of headaches and $1,000 later, we learned the pipes were clogged with wipes and even an adult diaper! Now we hand the wipes one at a time and monitor to make sure they're not disposed in the toilet!

Nov 15, 2015 - 02:42 PM

I have a dear friend who is caregiver to both her parents. Her father has morning accidents of diarrhea alot, while she is at work. Her mother who is in chronic pain and very stooped cleans up the mess. When my friend gets home she finishes up the cleaning of the floors and sometimes walls and the many towels left in the bathroom. Her father has refused outright to wear depends which my friend has suggested. Her mom has answered the phone when my friend does her checking in calls, in tears and sometimes hysteria. Both ladies are extremely frustrated and tired of cleaning up this horrible mess. They monitor his food, quantity of food, and has changed his diet as recommended by the doctor. Nothing is working, I suggested just tossing the towels in the trash instead of trying to get them as clean as possible before putting them in the washer, suggested going to a salvation army or goodwill store to buy replacements. I'm quite a few states away and all I can do is listen and be there for her when she needs to talk. Her dad has been diagnosed with the beginning stages of dementia. Does anyone have any more suggestions that could help both women? I don't think the doc understands how bad the situation is and how it's affecting them. She hasn't done any medical tests or explorations into why this "explosion " happens so often. What can she do? Has anyone else experienced this? How was it handled or was the problem ever solved. Please help with some suggestions I can give her. I'm so worried about my friend, she is so stressed out.

Source: Personal situation with a friend

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By ymassage on Jun 04, 2016 - 04:12 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

For my father in law that has gone from mid stage dementia to early stage dementia has always had this struggle with bowels. The doctors taught us that if we do not get him to drink three 24 oz glasses of liquid daily his bowels will have diarrhea. We zeroed in on hydration. He needs a solid three 24 oz a day to avoid diarrhea. When we put him in an assisted living for a respite or in a day program. They do not hydrate him like he needs. Those incidents get us back in the cycle of diarrhea for that week he has been dehydrated. Me and my in home help are serious about hydration because it gives us a break from his bowl weakness.

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Jan 01, 2016 - 10:54 PM

For the person with diahrhea, I would suggest that the caregiver ask the physician if the patient can see a specialist in such matters. I, am 73 and had the same problem and now am taking a medication that except for one time, stopped it. I was having the problem after having gallbladder surgery, which I guess is quite common. Thank goodness for specialists, in this case!

Jan 04, 2016 - 07:25 AM

For the person with the dad who won't wear Depends, I had the same issue. The only thing that helped me was getting an outside person to come in and sternly insist that he wear them. My dad always resisted me on everything but once the aide started coming in and helping, he did whatever she said. Rarely argued with her. Sounds like you might need an aide to come in even if it's for a few hours. Perhaps during the "worst" times when the explosions happen.
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