Dementia Caregiver Toileting Tips
If your loved one has a health condition like dementia that makes toileting difficult, consider these tips:
1. Consider having a raised toilet seat and grab bars in the bathroom to make it as easy as possible for your loved one to get on to and off of the toilet.
2. Notice the signs that your loved one needs to use the toilet (agitation, fidgeting, tugging on clothing, wandering, touching the genital area). Try to keep a routine and take them to the bathroom on a regular schedule, perhaps every two hours. While you may have to respond quickly if they indicate they need to use the bathroom, some people have a regular schedule, especially for bowel movements. If this is so, remind your loved one to go to the bathroom at the usual time (ex. right after breakfast).
3. If your loved one needs help removing clothes, help him or her by moving slowly and encouraging their help. Remind your loved one that they need to pull down their pants before sitting down. Clothes that are easy to remove will help, such as those with elastic waistbands.
4. There is no need to rush; allow time for them to empty their bowel and bladder. It may take a little time to get started. Walk away and come back in a few minutes or stand just outside the door.
5. Hand them toilet paper to use as appropriate. You may need to help get them started. Using wipes can sometimes be easier than toilet paper if you need to wipe for them. Next, assist as needed to pull pants back up. Sometimes seniors will walk away without pulling pants up, which is a fall hazard. Remember to provide as much privacy and modesty as possible.
7. Consider putting a sign, preferably with a picture, on the door to the bathroom. Also consider keeping the door to the bathroom open so they can see the toilet.
8. At night it may be best to use a commode or urinal by the bed so your loved one doesn't have to get up and walk to the bathroom, which increases the risk of falls and accidents. If your loved one does go to the bathroom at night, consider keeping a night light along their path. For those with urgency when needing to urinate during the day, a commode or urinal in a frequently visited room can also be helpful.
9. Some seniors reduce their fluid intake for fear of not making it to the bathroom in time. Dehydration can be very problematic, so make sure your loved one stays hydrated throughout the day. However, limiting fluid at night may be helpful.
10. Pots on the floor, wastebaskets, and other containers can be mistaken for a toilet. Consider removing any such containers from the area your loved one stays in and from near the toilet.
Source: “Toileting (for Dementia).” | Family Caregiver Alliance, www.caregiver.org/toileting-dementia.