If you’re caring for an older person, you know how difficult toileting can be. Any of the common aging symptoms – from dementia, neuropathy, and balance issues – make bathroom trips more hazardous than they should be. When you add in the embarrassment factor and the intimacy of the act, the restroom can become a minefield for even the most dedicated caregiver. But like feeding and bathing, proper toileting is essential to maintaining both health and quality of life. So if there’s no avoiding the bathroom, how do you make it as pain-free as possible?
Don’t Rush It! Plan Ahead Instead
Some seniors – dementia patients in particular – have trouble recognizing the signs that they need to go to the bathroom. This can easily lead to messy accidents or cause the senior to rush, which is a major risk factor for falls. Mobility issues can also lead to these same problems. To address them, it’s best to plan ahead. Try making regular trips to the toilet – every 2 to 3 hours – so that your loved one has regular opportunities to relive themselves. Or, take them to the restroom as soon as they wake up in the morning or immediately after meals. You can set regular reminders on your phone to make this a little easier.
Sitting and Standing can be Hazardous
Much of the risk with toileting comes as a senior sits or stands. Joint pain, foot numbness, and light-headedness all increase the risk of falls. So as a caregiver, your most important job is to safely transfer your loved one from one position to the other. Start by making your loved one do as much of the work as possible. That way you provide balance and stability support rather than lifting. If you do have to lift, don’t pull on hands or legs. Instead, bend at your knees and grasp their torso or hips. Buying an inexpensive elevated toilet seat that doesn’t require your loved one to sit down so far can also address this problem.
Diet Plays an Important Role
Problems can also arise if your loved one has a poor diet or isn’t drinking enough water. Make sure they’re eating plenty of high-fiber foods like fruits, nuts, and veggies as well as drinking 6-8 glasses of water each day. Constipation isn’t a normal symptom of aging, so if it persists, you should consult a doctor.
Accidents Will Happen
Remember, accidents will still happen regardless of how prepared you are. You can make this easier on yourself by using disposable pads or waterproof bedding. Change and wash soiled linens or clothing immediately to control stains and odors. Most importantly, don’t embarrass your loved one by reacting with irritation or disgust. Handle the situation matter-of-factly and reassure them that this is okay.
Live in Phoenix and Need a Break? We Can Help
If you live in the greater Phoenix area and need a break in your caregiving duties, we can help. Our caregivers are trained to assist with all aspects of caregiving and can step in when you need some time away. Check out our services page for more information on all our offerings and then give us a call anytime at 602-595-HOME (4663). When you call, don’t forget to ask if you qualify for free hours.
Caregiving is one of the hardest jobs there is and dealing with toileting problems makes it even harder. But you don’t have to do it alone. Call us today to learn how we can help.