How do I deal with taking my dad to a public men's bathroom as a female?

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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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