My mother does not know what to do with toilet paper.

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Hello, My wife and I have been caring for my 92 yr old mother in our home for the past 5 plus yrs. She has had a mild case of dementia during this time. I really feel bad about asking about such a miner problem as I go to this site daily. I never have heard anything about our problem. My mother does not know what to do with toilet paper used or not.


It sounds like she now needs help/supervision in the bathroom. She needs to be clean to help prevent utis, and of course you want used tissue disposed of properly. At this point you cannot "teach" her the proper behaviors, so you'll need to help accomplish them.
Just a thought ... is your mother often in her childhood in her memory? (Does she ask about her parents and siblings, etc.?) It occurs to me that there may not have been toilet paper in the outhouse of her youth, and that may be why she can't figure it out. That doesn't solve the problem, but it may explain where it is coming from.
Hi, thanks for your comments. There was 2 more parts to my above question. I put it in the stories section by accident, then cut and pasted and only the above was displayed. My wife goes into the bathroom with her to see that she keeps herself clean. But she is not always here. I do not feel comfortable in there with her. So I take out only what she should need and hide the roll. Then when she is done i try to track down where she has hidden it in the bathroom, under the edge of toilet seat, under the toilet brush, in a vase..again not a problem.. if i cant find it. Then its up to my wife to get it out of her pants. Our only real concern is her keeping it in her underwear. She does live in the past. She has pictures of her husband that has pasted that she keeps on her lap as she watches t.v. We realize we cant retrain her. I really wanted to know whether this is an isolated case or not. She comes from the depression and doesn't even want to use more than a half a sheet.. Things could be much worse! Thanks again. Carl
You are not alone with this problem. My Mom is 93 and has always been a toilet paper "saver". She only uses 3 or 4 sheets to wipe with. I keep wet wipes beside
the commode for her, also. I have found her toilet paper in her wastebasket and her Depends pail. She also wipes from back to front and how she avoids UTI's is beyond me. You are right, because you cannot teach them. Anything, and lots of other stuff, she just looks at me dumbfounded. Elderly are always referred to as "going back to their second childhood". Children you can teach, elderly you cannot and they just take steps backwards. I am also going to start checking in different places for toilet paper, because you just never know! She also tells me her Depends are dry, when they are not or that she doesn't need to change them, when she does. Hang in there!
Crobbin1, you are not in isolation as they all do strange things, especially hoarding things. I used to have to keep a wastebasket identical to my mothers former wastebasket next to our toilet so my Mom would her toilet tissue in there. I tried to tell her its ok to put it in the toilet but where she lived with an old septic tank she had a habit of using a wastebasket. It was a pita but it was ok. Before she moved in with me she would dry her hands on paper towels and hang them all over her bathroom, looked ridiculous in there, I couldnt believe all of them hanging around. I threw them away each week when I went over and she never knew it because she forgot about it. One day I brought her in and showed her and asked her why and she said "those are still good to use again!" and she was originally a neat freak. Yes its minor, yet they all do strange minor things. One day my family all went to her house and my oldest son said to go look in my Moms bedroom. I walked by and there was all her ice creams under her bed. The ice creams she had, we brought, fudscicles, etc. I put them all back in the freezer and went over the next day to talk to her about it. She claimed she knew she did it and was going to put them back when we left, she didnt want us all to eat it because she doesnt get out much. (gotta laugh but sad) Oh can they fool us in the beginnings and we believe it! I started to find small bowls of cereal in her drawers, and all kinds of things in strange places that they didnt belong. She put frozen items in the refrigerator and refrigerator items in the freezer, maybe a spoon or cup in her sock drawer, weird minor things just telling us they are losing their minds slowly. I wish we could leave pictures on here because I would post a picture I took on insider her refrigerator, she even had a box of tissues in there! lol Poor mom.
I went over one day to see a completely black burnt small pizza out in the snow. When I went in the whole house had a smoky leftover smell yet she denied it to the hilt that she did it. I bought her a microwave that had a dial, not a keypad, and put thick tape on it so it only went so far to a minute at a time. It worked, she stopped burning her pizzas and her muffins which also started to happen. She would press in 1-0-0-0 instead of 1-0-0 and try cooking things 10 minutes instead of a minute. Sounds like your Mom is in very beginning stages so be prepared for a lot more weird minor things to change to major things. My Mom moved in with us five years ago and soon started to get up, drop her pants, squat (sometimes on the edge of her bed) and pee ALL over the floor. Sometimes she dropped her pants in the pee and hopped back into bed all wet. I almost fell sliding on it the first day it happend and I couldnt figure out whaaaaaaa's this??????? We have laminate floors in the bedroom, which I suggest, because now I have to lift Mom with a hoyer and you need smooth floors for that. Ahhhhhh I am sending good luck to you in your adventures with your Mom and bless you for having her in your home. My Mom would be bedridden now but I hoyer her into her wheelchair and recliner and keep her with us for meals to keep her mind stimulated as much as possible. She only says a few words here and there but loves us singing. So precious your Mom has a picture of her husband , after 57 years my Mom forgets her soulmate now. Maybe blow up a big picture for next to her bed so she can see him all night, I did that. Cheers!
Carl - you deserve the king of the month crown! How thoughtful you are towards your MIL. Once their dementia is at this level of disconnect there really isn't much they can do to understand or "retrain". It may be that your MIL is entering another phase of her dementia and her caregiving needs may be exceeding you all's ability. 92 is up there

Try to make sure that the lighting in the bathroom is bright so that she can see as it well....gets kinda dark down there. Maybe have a floor lamp by the toilet. Also if she is in white panties, change them to panties in a solid bright color so that she can more obviously see the white toilet paper against the hot pink panty. You can also get a sharpie marker and draw lines atop the toilet paper roll so that when you find bits of paper you will know that it likely has fecal matter and needs to be handled differently than Kleenex.
Was your mother reared in this country or another country? Many countries today still don't allow you to put the toilet paper in the toilet. Have you ever been on a plane from Cairo to the US? The bathrooms become a horrible mess as people throw it on the floor.
My dad kept putting dirty dishes back in the cupboards because they weren't 'that dirty and could be used again". He also would vacuum the kitchen counter tops. He did use the toilet paper, folded it neatly and stacked it beside the toilet and used it, then folded it neatly again and stacked it with the clean stack. If I wasn't on top of things, he would try to wash his Depends in the bathroom sink thinking he could reuse them I reckon. And yes, he was raised during the Depression. He was a harsh dad when we were growing up but I was blessed as he demented, he became the sweetest man-child and made my introduction into care taking a 'walk in the park' and I wasn't aware of that at the time. Now 12 years later, I became my husbands caretaker and he brought his controlling, verbally, emotionally, financially abusive personality with him but on 'mental steroids" and has made caring for him almost unbearable. I share that just to give perspective for those who care for loved ones who do odd things but are not mean spirited.
Again, thanks for your responses. They say "misery loves company" its really nice to see we are not alone. The septic tank idea seems to make the most sense, since she used a basket too. We have been referring all the caregivers that we know to this invaluable sight. Thanks again, Carl
My mom will not use enough toilet paper due to her arms not working that well. *I just go in with her and i give her a wet and warm washcloth to use with soap to make sure that she is clean. She does have a problem with me washing her backside but one time I found some poop that she did not get with the TP. I try to make a joke about it and sometimes that helps.

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