Poop Happens

It is challenging for me to figure out how to best deal with bathroom issues of two aging parents, both of whom have some level of incontinence and dementia.

When a child in diapers has had a “big blow out” you can peel off their clothes in the shower and wipe them down, give them a bath, wash out their clothing and get them put back together.

I am trying to figure out how to save the dignity of my parents when they are in similar situations.

My dad was left with total urinary incontinence following surgery for prostate cancer.  He manages to change his own belted shields but often needs reminders to use the restroom.  At least a few times a week he will soak through everything while sitting on the sofa or the car. Once home, he can clean up and change on his own while I clean up the car or take the slip cover off the couch to wash it. The waterproof puddle pads are not an option at this point in time because they become dismayed that they would even need them.

When dad takes a shower, he will have an occasional bout of incontinence of the bowel. On some mornings I find feces stuck between all the suction cups of the bath mats. They must be flipped over and cleaned with a brush and disinfectant. Then I dig out the drain or use a plunger. I pour boiling water down the drain to clean out the last bit. I have found smears of feces on the wall, door frame, toilet and counter. I often find it on the floor.  I quickly and quietly clean it up before my mom gets in there and runs through it with her walker. The doctor has said that this is a reaction to one of his essential meds, so we are giving him something with it to calm the bowels.

One day my dad was out on an excursion with my brother when he got the urge to go and there was no restroom.  Unfortunately, he soiled all the way down two pants legs and into his shoes. We got dad into the shower and I brought the clothes outside to hose down. There was just too much matter to wash off in the freezing weather so I threw the pants out.  The shoes were easier to clean, I brushed them off, hosed them down and threw them in the washer.

The spread of germs through the constant appearance of fecal matter can be problematic if not regularly dealt with. It’s part of the whole package. Be sure to have disposable gloves and different types of cleaners on hand.

My mom no longer has the manual dexterity to wipe and I have offered to do it for her when the time comes around each day, but she will have none of that. One day she came out of the restroom and straight to the dinner table. There was a chunk of something brown under her fingernail. I told her that she had chocolate under her nail and we needed to clean it out ASAP so it didn’t get on her clothes.

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