Feb 25, 2015

The Woman Who Wouldn't Sit Down to Pee

Our reader Nita asked in an email.
My sister has Alzheimer's. She is almost 64 and in stage 6. Incontinence.

My problem, when I visit her at the memory care center is trying to get her to sit down when I take her to pee.

I get her pants and pull-up down and ask her to sit. She smiles and says OK, OK, OK, and keeps smiling but doesn't sit.

I like to make sure she "goes" before I take her out to lunch but getting her to sit is an increasing problem. Any good ideas are welcome. Thanks, Nita

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

The Woman Who Wouldn't Sit Down to Pee

An answer to Nita's question from Rachael Wonderlin.
Check out Rachael's blog for more tips and insight - Dementia By Day

"She’ll sit down on couches, in a chair, wherever—but I cannot get her to sit down on the toilet!” 

one of our Resident Assistants, Brittany, sighed in our morning meeting. “Susannah gets really stiff and tries to hold her pants up,” she continued.

Susannah is incredibly pleasant, but she is also in a moderately advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease. She walks throughout the community during the day, picking up objects, putting them down, and using small, sweet phrases to speak.

About an hour later, Brittany and I stood in Susannah’s bathroom. I was intrigued by this problem and wanted to solve it.

Thinking that Susannah was feeling uncomfortable having her pants down in front of another person, I had her hold a towel in front of her legs while I reached for her pants. “Hmmmm, yep, that’s that,” she said, gripping her pants. I then tried another technique and handed Susannah her favorite baby doll. “Ohh, hello,” she cooed at the doll.

This time, she let me take her pants down to her ankles while she “watched” the baby.
Brittany and I then asked her to sit down on the toilet. Susannah stiffened like a wooden board. “Do you want to sit down?” I asked her. “Hmmm, look at this,” she said, misunderstanding the question, pointing to the baby. Then she said, “There’s a hole.”

This statement confused me at first. A hole? I thought. I looked at the toilet and remembered Brittany’s first statement, she’ll sit on chairs, couches…

I grabbed a bright blue towel from the bathroom wall and laid it over the toilet seat. “Hey, Susannah, sit down here,” I said gently. “Oh, okay,” she agreed, and sat down.

After she sat down on the new blue seat, Brittany and I gently lifted her slightly and quickly slid the towel out from under her. It was not the modesty that was upsetting her: it was the toilet itself. She was afraid of falling into the toilet bowl.

Susannah went to the bathroom using the towel method twice that day without any problems.

An answer to Nita's question from Carole Larkin. Carole is full of experience and lots of wisdom when it comes to dementia patients. She offered this short concise piece of advice.
Learn more about Carole and her service at ThirdAge Services.

All she needs to do is to pull up a chair right in front of the toilet and model the behavior, sitting down her sister will mimic her.

Wonderful idea and insight as always Carole.

More Alzheimer's Caregiver Tips
  1. Alzheimer's and the Dreaded Shower
  2. How to Get An Alzheimer's Patient to Take a Bath (by Carole Larkin)
  3. 4 Ways to Deal with Constant Questioning from a Person Living with Alzheimer's (By Rachael Wonderlin)
  4. Is Water Invisible and Disconcerting to Dementia Patients?
  5. Alzheimer's Communication Tip, No More Blah Blah Blah
  6. Be a Guide

Subscribe to the Alzheimer's Reading Room

You are reading original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room