Apr 12, 2012

Won't Come Out of the Bathroom, Won't Use the Bathroom

When I couldn't get Dotty to go to the bathroom I thought about tying a potato chip on a string and dangling it in front of her face to entice her to follow me to the bathroom.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I didn't do that, but the thought did cross my mind. In order to encourage a person with dementia to do what you would like to them to do you have to find the "hook".

In our case, I didn't tie a potato chip on a string. Instead, I said come on lets take a pee, and then we will get some potato chips.

Key word, Lets. As in let us. Key word, we.

Not you need. Or, I want you too.

Instead, we will and then the "hook". So we weren't really going to the bathroom, we were going to get something to eat -- the beloved potato chip in this case.

I think what you say has to be positive, not negative.

I think it needs to lead to an action that is wanted, desired, or fun. Baby dolls, or repeat parrots can help. For example, I might get Harvey to repeat, Dotty come out here; or, Dotty drink your juice (as in prune juice, I jettisoned the word prune). It works.

We have two readers seeking advice and insight under the article -- Alzheimer's Care and the 90 Minute Pee Pee.

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Reader Walkyrie wrote and asked:
We have the opposite issue with my grandmother. She's 86 and at the moderate stage and she goes to the bathroom all the time and stays there for hours if allowed. I'm not exaggerating. We try to coax her to come out by saying things like "you are going to get cold in there and then catch a cold", (which is something she always believed in and used to tell us all as children), she will sometimes react positively to this and come out but more often than not, (and especially lately), she gets angry and tells us not to rush her.

Same thing happens when we take her out, she just wants to go to the bathroom and spends 30 minutes or more in there if we let her.

We have talked to her neurologist and he said to find other activities for her to do during the day. And we have. We have tried many things, like making bead necklaces for the kids, painting, even some light house chores like folding laundry, since she was always a housewife and loved doing her chores around the house. These things seem to work for a a little while and then back to the bathroom we go!

As of now no UTI, and we just don't know what else to do to keep her out of the bathroom. Oh and this goes on all day and night. Bobby, we have tried all your advice except getting a "Harvey".

Does anybody have any suggestions on how to help her? I don't believe my grandma is the only person with AD who is doing this or has a similar complex.

Arnie K wrote and asked:
My mother has a different "pee pee" problem. She refuses to use any bathroom other than her own even if they are immaculate.

So, if we're scheduled to go to the doctor or her day group, she refuses to drink ahead of time to avoid having to use a strange bathroom. Although I try to pump her full of liquids when she returns home, I remain concerned about the possibililty of dehydration.

Her doctor recommends that she drink more. Does anyone have any thoughts on how I can overcome mom's resistance to using bathrooms other than her own?

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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room