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Tips for caregivers: toileting

Helping your loved one use the toilet can be a very uncomfortable situation. If your loved one has dementia, loss of control over their bladder and bowels can set in during the later stages of the disease. It's important to try to allow your loved one to have independence over their toileting for as long as possible. Here are some suggestions for when it is time to intervene:

  1. Stick to a routine when helping your loved one with toileting. Have them go to the bathroom frequently and on a regular basis; every two hours is a good starting point. Some people have very regular toileting schedules. If your loved one is on a regular schedule, remind them to use the bathroom at their usual time.

  2. Notice signs that your loved one may need to use the toilet. Common signs are agitation, fidgeting, tugging on clothing and touching the genital area. Be able to respond quickly when you see your loved one exhibiting these signs.

  3. Assist your loved one with removing their clothes. Remind them to pull their pants down before sitting and pull them back up when they are finished. Try to have your loved one wear clothes that are easy to remove, like pants with elastic waist bands.

  4. Use a commode, bedpan or urinal at night. This will prevent your loved one from having to stumble around in the dark on their way to the bathroom. Using incontinence pads is also a way protect bedding and clothing, as well as reassure your loved one that they don't have to try to rush to the bathroom.

  5. Limiting fluids at night can be helpful in preventing accidents. But be cautious: you don't want your loved one to become dehydrated, as this can lead to urinary tract infections. Wet clothing from frequent accidents can also lead to urinary tract infections. Monitor your loved one for infections. If they have a fever for more than 24 hours, consult a doctor.

Resource: Family Caregiver Alliance