I Guess That Depends

familyrestroomTonight’s words of wisdom from Dad:

“Good news! I just urinated!”

Ok, now, putting it into context, this was stated as I transferred Dad from his recliner to his walker to his wheelchair on the way to his bedroom, which then involves a changing of the guard…as in double Depends. He is always very happy when he knows that the next time this may occur is later than sooner which means he’ll be drier longer.

I intend for this to be my only blog about bathroom concerns of the elderly. Yet I find it interesting that young mothers are all over social media about potty training children, entire books are dedicated to it, and anyone who has ever been a parent chimes in on her/his experience with it if the topic comes up. I still like to claim I trained my 3 kids and partially a few of my grandkids. Like it makes me a superstar or something.

The topic of elder care and parents and bathroom habits (I don’t know what other euphemism to use) and helping, aiding, cleaning, all at the same time still dignifying your parent, is pretty much a taboo subject. It rarely comes up in any outside conversation (although it’s discussed a lot inside our home, and I mean a lot), and certainly not at cocktail and dinner parties where I have heard potty training discussed over drinks and food. It’s the unspoken, unappreciated, overwhelmingly horrifying-in-the-beginning task that deserves more “attaboys and girls” for the adult child caregiver.

I remember once hearing Oprah say, “Having horror heard helps heal the hurt.” On this issue I want to be heard! But even I don’t really want to talk about it and I guarantee no one wants to listen, especially my sisters and brothers (and arguably even you). I also play games like making sure Dad drinks his Smooth Move tea the night before his Sunday morning caregiver arrives and then I sit at church and pray for the best of results on her watch.

When the ailing parent of the opposite sex diminishes from autonomous bathroom care to bedside commode to 24-hr Depends, all parties concerned are in for a big adjustment. And sometimes I just want to tell the world how gross it is!  And sometimes I’m just so grateful when my dad isn’t constipated. As a non-professional caregiver, my entire understanding of the bathroom habit thing has been a huge learning curve. My mom was completely continent until the last few weeks of her life. No matter how severe her DLB, she could remember when and how to use the bathroom. My dad’s brain, on the other hand, is good, but his body is old and his plumbing is worn out. Still, at 101 years old, what can one expect? He jokes that his warranty has expired.

Maybe there are classes on this subject. I don’t know and I don’t want to Google it, because, after all, I’m like everyone else. It’s just TMI. However, with experience comes great trial and much error, and I have learned the best way to help my dad while maintaining his modesty (sort of) and my sanity (kind of).  God bless you all if you’re in the same boat.


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