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My husband is still mobile but has forgotten how to use toilet because of dementia - what can I do?

Dementia seems to have caused my husband to forget how to use toilet paper and how to sit on toilet.Tends to involve bare hands, creating messy situation, then uses towels instead of soap and water to clean up. Is mobile so goes to bathroom alone. Using Depends due to some incontinence. What can I do?
Status: Open    Jul 21, 2015 - 02:04 PM

Caregiving, Dementia

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Jul 21, 2015 - 04:04 PM

Incontinence is one of the many unfortunate things that come with dementia. It sounds like your husband desires to maintain some level of independence, which can be both helpful and difficult at the same time. It is our job as caregivers to maintain some level of dignity to help them with this private matter, at the same time coming up with creative solutions to do so, to lessen any extra work they may create with their 'indepdence'. In addition to using toilet paper you mentioned forgetting how to sit on the toilet. There is a visual deficiency that often accompanies dementia, particularly depth perception, so this may be adding to the confusion and fear to 'sit' on the toilet if he can't create the spatial relation of how far down the seat is, where it is at (since it's underneath him, etc) creating a fear of 'falling' if he misses the seat.

Devising a plan is a good idea. It might be a good idea over the next few days to try and get an idea when he is having a bowel movement that you can station yourself outside the bathroom to 'help.' Offering him 'the new roll of toilet paper you needed to put in the bathroom' so he can use it, while verbally cueing him with "Here is some toilet paper (tearing off the amount that would be useful)" and verbally prompting him to use it while busying yourself with whatever else in the bathroom to make it appear as if you just 'stopped in' to do something for yourself. Doing the same with soap when it's time to wash hands. "Here is the soap to wash your hands, I just refilled the bottle for you....." Replacing the real towels with disposable towels may help with the necessary laundry created when he uses real towels to clean up any mess he may have made.

It sounds like he has a strong desire to be independent in the bathroom but with some creative thinking, and helpful guidance, it sounds like you might be able to eliminate some of the mess he may create if left to his own devices.

Hope that is helpful!

Aug 26, 2015 - 01:30 PM

Maybe he can not easily see the toilet seat.
Try getting a colored one, red, black something that will stand out. This way he can see it easily. (at this point it really does not matter if the color will "clash" with your bathroom colors)
While he wants to remain independent you might have to start using the bathroom when he does. Bring in some towels, fix your hair, what ever excuse you can come up with. (If you have been married for a while I am sure that you are used to walking in on each other or even leaving the bathroom door open!) Keep an eye on him, hand him toilet paper if necessary then wash up together.
You may be getting close to the time where you are going to have to be much more involved in his toileting.
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