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What Can I Do to Help My Incontinent Father?

Answered by David Troxel

November 4, 2015

My father has Alzheimer’s and has become completely incontinent both ways. He refuses to use a diaper and puts up a fight about it. He has ruined several pairs of pants and I am often left to clean up the floor. What can I do?

This is one of the tough situations that many family members face. Unfortunately, most persons with dementia begin to experience incontinence. Here are a few strategies:

Look for medical causes. Sometimes incontinence is caused by urinary tract infections or other problems. See if your physician can help.

Take him to the bathroom regularly. You can use a light touch, “Dad I have to go to the bathroom – come with me,” and then get him on the toilet.

Work on the environment. Post a sign to the bathroom and make sure there is good lighting. Can he find it? Install a contrasting toilet bowl lid so he can see the bowl (vs white on white).

It can be common for persons with dementia to refuse help or deny the problem. Try to simplify his clothes for easy on and off and say something like, “Dad the doctor says we need to keep your skin nice and dry. Let’s get this job done.” Work hard not to get angry or shame him.

This is also a time you may want to consider getting some in-home help and looking for some eventual residential care settings. At a certain point you may not be the best person to struggle with him on this care point—somethings a trained individual can make the magic happen more than an adult child!

Here is a good handout from the Alzheimer’s Association that might be helpful: https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-incontinence.asp

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. December 4, 2015 at 08:09 pm
    Posted by Frances

    My husband s Urologist prescribed medication (FloMax - tamsulosin generic) for my husband who has enlarged prostate; meds helps him empty his bladder.
  2. November 18, 2015 at 05:17 pm
    Posted by Diane

    My husband can no longer walk and must be taken to the restroom every 1 1/2 to 2 hours. He cant say when he has to go but wopill get fidgety and or push his feet on the chair. I have a cna with me now 24/7 at home rather than a facikity but thats my choicrpe and because I can. Uti 's are his nightmare and no matter how hard we try to keep,them at bay they come. He doesnt emoty fully from prior bladder retention due to enlarged prostate but he is in early stage 7 so what do ya do?

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