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I am an only child and a female. My dad has Alzheimer's and incontinence issues. I have him in strong adult diapers and portable leg/condom catheters but that doesn't help with sudden urges for #2. I don't want to keep him at home but want to get him out of the house. Male companions are not readily available and they are cost prohibitive for long or overnight trips. I had an incident recently where I needed to take him into the mens' bathroom and fortunately 1 man agreed to alert the other patrons but it was still very awkward for me -- any suggestions?

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A wig and a costume may be the answer.

Seriously, as if people can't tell what and why you need to bring your elderly father to the women's room.
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Parents with small kids and strollers and our aging population both owe gratitude to the disability community for pushing through the Americans with Disabilities Act. When it first came up, some people didn't realize just how helpful it would be to SO many of us.
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I have yet to encounter a woman in the ladies rest room in the public area where she was in a state that would be embarrassing to be seen in public.
That being said in that situation I think I would just put my head round the door and call out." Ladies, gentleman coming through to use the handicapped stall" I think it's only polite to give warning then no one is shocked. I don't fancy the men's side it usually smells!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If I was a man escorting a female I would still use the women's side, much more comfortable for the female. A good male shout should alert any timid ladies
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I'm glad to see that you have a lot of suggestions here and a lot of experiences to read about. Just throwin' in my two cents:

I used both the ladies room and the men's room when out with my elderly father. At the time I didn't know which I was supposed to use and we ran into other people in both restroom's but I never ran into anyone who was rude to us, whether I was in the men's room or my dad was in the ladies room. We were treated with respect and understanding smiles. My personal preference became the ladies room. My dad did not object and I found that the ladies rooms tended to be larger, all the better to accommodate my dad's wheelchair. When running into someone I always apologized for taking up so much space, explained that I was helping my father, and that we'd be done in a jiff. My dad thought the ladies rooms were nicer too, which they were.

Great topic.
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My father has Lewy Body Dementia and does get the sudden urge, unfortunately. He wears diapers. And even though I ask him before we leave for an errand, inevitably he has to go at the most inconvenient times. At first I took him to the men's bathroom and tried calling out, trying to find someone to stand at the door, finding the "Bathroom is being cleaned" sign, and other things. But one time, despite calling out and warning anyone in there that we wanted to come in, no one said anything. And when we entered there it was -- a man using the bathroom. Don't know what he thought I was doing. So now I take him in his wheelchair into the woman's handicap stall. I talk to him all the time so other women know we're in there. As we are in an enclosed stall, no one sees him and he certainly wouldn't see them and understand it's awkward. But I think the women and children we have seen once we leave the stall have been maybe a little startled at first, but quite understanding. I have gotten over it and wouldn't want to stop our little outings -- we both get so much pleasure in hanging out together and I don't know how much longer I will have him.
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I care for my husband and have the same dilemma. When we were in Las Vegas and needed a family restroom there was none available. I finally went to the bellhop station and presented our problem. They promptly called security; Security sent a athletic type guard who cleared a path in the men's room to the handicap stall and then again for us to depart. Of course, using the ladies room is an alternative.
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THANK YOU for the Answers to the Public Bathroom Issue --
Kathy Towson here -- I want to thank ALL of you for the great advice and most of all for the on-line support. Reading your responses gave me those good chills to know there's friends out there, which gives me hope during a very difficult time. Thank you ALL from the bottom of my heart and this Thanksgiving, I give thanks for all of you. Happy Thanksgiving and may you all find the strength you've given me. Kathy
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Hi Elaine - You had some great ideas. I'll explore. Thanks.
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Vincendi - you are to be commended for taking care of your mother and wanting to take her out more often. Maybe some of the suggestions on this site can offer you advise and you'll be able to take mom out more often. You mention about pushing through legislation for more "family type" bathrooms. They are indeed needed as evidenced on this site and just looking around when out and about. Honestly I don't know who you would contact - but I would start with the ADA - American Disabilities Act - and maybe they could direct you to what group/organization would help you achieve legislation for family bathrooms. Or contact your local Congressman and question him/her. They say there is a reason for everything and I believe that - maybe "kltowson" who originally submitted the question and people such as you on this site who have the bathroom problem could work together to push for legislation. Keep us all informed please through this site and remember here's a perfect audience to assist you in pushing for a new law. Take care! God Bless!
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When we are in a restaurant or a shopping mall, my mom and I always go to the men's bathroom with my dad. For one thing, the men's room is usually empty, so it's easier to manuever a wheelchair. We just take the wheelchair into the handicapped stall and close the door. I've never run into a situation where a man has said anything negative to me about being in the men's room, and we've been doing this for about 10 years. I always check before and after we enter the stall that there aren't any men in the urinal area. I always apologize for my presence if I encounter another man in the room. Even when my dad was able to slowly walk into the men's room himself and I waited outside, men often would size up the situation and offer to assist my dad if needed.

I can't imagine taking my dad into a women's room. He would not be comfortable with that, and I would be uncomfortable because of his discomfort. But every family's different.

My dad uses the heaviest of pads now, but when travelling in the big city we have occasionally used a day catheter. We also carry Little John disposable urinals in the car and a water-absorbant pad for the car seat.
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Most ladies seem to understand. As a man, if you brought in your father into the men's room I'm sure that men might offer to help or would clear out to give you privacy. If you had to go into the men's room maybe ask a secutiry guard to help. Agre there whould be "family type rooms. I am in the reverse situation - I'm male and sole care for my mother who is in transport chair - some dementia and bri=oken hip/scoliosis so she can likely fall. . Its difficult to travel or go to the department store at Christmas which she would love to do. We've managed somehow. Once a woman helped her - a total stranger. I almost cried -there are angels out there. Any ideas how to push thtough such legislation. There will be mor eneed in the future for such bathrooms.
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My husband has younger-onset Alzheimer's. When he was still at home and able to get out with me, I carried a post-it note in my purse to put on the outside of the ladies' restroom door to let other women know that I had my husband with dementia in the restroom with me. Everyone was very understanding about it. As we left the restroom, I just took the post-it off the door and put it back in my purse for the next time.
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K:

Nancy made a wonderful suggestion that I'd definitely go for. If he needs to go he needs to go. Here in NYC a woman taking her Dad into a men's room isn't so odd. Most men will be willing to assist you because this city is one huge social experiment. Somewhere else, even people who aren't using the bathroom will be offended. What matters is your father's comfort and how you feel when fighting for him.
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My husband (dementia, age 85) isn't usually incontinent, but he sometimes has accidents. On our last clinic visit he had an urgent need to get into the men's room before we checked in. I waited outside for what got to be excessive time even for him. I'd noticed men going in and coming out and when I was pretty sure he was alone in there I went in to see if he needed help. He did indeed. He asked me to get him a robe. What? You know, those things they have you change into when they examine you. Oh! You need a change of clothes. Good idea, dear. I got a robe, a Depends, and a plastic bag from the sympathetic receptionist. I stood in the door to the cube while helping him clean up. One man came in, saw me, and looked very confused and started to apologize. I assured him it was not his mistake, that I was helping my husband. He nodded, said No Problem, and backed out. Another man came in, looked at me, seemed to size up the situation, shrugged, and went and used the urinal!

In an emergency, ya do what ya gotta do, the best you can, and everyone lives through it.

His doctor suggested that when he goes out he may want to take a precautionary anti-diarrehal pill to try to avoid such situations and she also assured him that he is not alone and many older persons have similar experiences and while nobody likes them everyone gets through them and life goes on.
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These are all great answers I notice that some restuarants on highways have family bathrooms and I think it is great that you are taking him out being with people to the best way to keep their mind sharper.
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jacbec, If I were in the lady's restroom and you brought your mom in and I understood what was going on, I would understand. Also, again, the ladies restooms stalls make it more private. I am very grateful for the family restrooms.
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Everything the others have posted are right on! I do believe it would be easier to use a female restroom than a male one! Women tend to be more understanding about circumstances & you can tell your father it is a unisex restroom so it does not upset him!
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I am happy to read all these lovely answers to this awkward problem. I am almost in this situation with my male companion. He can still barely deal with toileting himself. If he's in the men's room too long I usually ask a gentleman to check on him or I open the door a bit and yell his name and ask if he's OK. He takes so long sometimes that I do get worried. So far so good. But thanks for all your tips.
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What if, as a husband, you need to take your ill wife to a restroom?
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look for one of the now popular family bathrooms or unisex bathrooms... I think most people are pretty understanding. The other day I spoke with a young lady and told her I was caring for my Mom and her response was God bless you!!!
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Thank you to all, for your helpful and encouraging advice! My 91 year old husband has Alzheimers and is now into incontinence underwear for his occasional leakages. So far, we have not needed a change of underwear when out, but I know it will come and have been wondering about the best way to handle using public restrooms. Your answers have convinced me that using the women's room will work fine, with a brief announcement as we enter.
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I would also take him to the men's side and wait until it was empty to check on him., but this was when he was able to walk., now he is not and I will use the women's side. All helpful comments though.
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Before my Dad went to an Alzheimer's facility then to their Nursing home, I sent him in but I but checked to see if anyone else was in. I held the door open so any males that were coming, could see that a female was there, but I w in then followed. Never had a problem, most men saw that he was feeble and seemed to understand.
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Before my Dad went to an Alzheimer's facility then to their Nursing home, I sent him in but I but checked to see if anyone else was in. I held the door open so any males that were coming, could see that a female was there, but I w in then followed. Never had a problem, most men saw that he was feeble and seemed to understand.
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I would do the same as above stated. Don't worry about it. Take him to the women's restroom. You will feel the most awkward about the situation. There are stalls that give everyone privacy. This is your business no one elses. I give you a big hug for continuing to take your father places. So when you take your dad into the restroom hold your head high do not feel embarrassed. You are a wonderful daughter for taking such good care of dad.
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Kltowson - you are to be commended for taking care of your dad and taking him out and about. I don't have the problem you have but I'm answering as being the typical woman in the ladies restroom when you come in with your dad. It wouldn't bother me one bit to have you bring him through to the accessible stall and you wouldn't even have to say a word. I believe that you walking in with an elderly man and escorting him to the restroom is basically understood by most of us as to what the situation is. It's understood and I find nothing wrong with this at all. And as soulmate above stated - when she did it, she just smiled at the other women in the restroom. (they knew the situation). I would however if a small child was there with their mother look at the mother and say "I have to take my daddy to the potty". This opens the door for the mom to explain to the child that it's an ok situation but to inform the child that if a man walked in alone to the ladies restroom it's not an okay situation. Just playing the "what if" game". I've also seen many men with their handicap wives and often wondered how they handle the bathroom situation as I know a lot of women, myself included, would be reluctant to take the women to the ladies room for fear of them falling or not knowing who I was. There are many caregivers out there going through your bathroom dilema. Since you are aware of not having enough "family type" restrooms, (and I agree there should be more of them) and since more and more family members are caring for their parents and ending up with your bathroom dilema maybe you could be an advocate and start speaking up in regards to having laws put in place that would make it mandatory for new construction to "add family bathroom facilities". Again, you are to be commended for your great caregiving to your dad! Good Luck & God Bless!
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I have same situation. I take Dad into the mens bathroom when it's empty...it's usually empty.
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Soulmate is right. I took my dad who had alzheimers/incontinence several times into women's restrooms. I just smiled at the women in there and most were very understanding. I put two adult diapers on him when we went out, an incontinence pad for the seat in the car, a bag with extra adult diapers, latex gloves, wet wipes and a change of pants/underwear. Trust me you get used to it after awhile. It is better when there is a family restroom but that's not always possible. It is great that you are getting your dad out and about. I would take my dad to his favorite restaurants, the movies and shopping (pushing him in the wheelchair the store provided or getting the motorized cart (early start of alzheimers).
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As women we're much more used to seeing a little boy in our bathroom. So if a woman came in and warned me that she was bringing in an adult male to use the bathroom, I'd know there had to be a logical reason. And since we all have stalls, and most of us just want to get the heck out of a public bathroom in the first place, I don't see a problem with bringing your dad/husband or whoever that has Alzheimer's with you. Go for it.
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I am in the same position. Thank you for the quiestion and answers ,
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