Anyone have advice on reducing/coping with Mom's frequent trips to the commode?

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My Mom is 88, palliative (cancer) and has some dementia. She is still cognitively sharp and knows who I am, but her short term memory is terrible. She is about 240 lbs and has limited mobility. She needs assistance to stand, can take a few shuffly steps with her walker, can easily lose her balance, HIGH fall risk. She has been given 3-6mos to live and so we are having someone with her 24/7. I am here 4.5 days a week, from 7am-7pm (I took a leave from work), my brother (still working) does Sat 7am-7pm, and we have government-supplied PSW with her for Wed day and most of Sunday day. And we are paying PSWs to be with her on all the nights, 7pm-7am.


Most of the time Mom & I are good. She is loving and appreciative. She sleeps a lot, I read. We watch some TV, or chat. She needs help to get up and get to a commode for BMs. She has a catheter, which has helped SO much in terms of lessening commode visits.


My question is this - how do you manage it, if you are in my kind of role (you help your Person up to the commode, and then once done, clean them up and get them back to their chair, clean up the commode) when they have to go frequently? That cycle can take 30-45min (she sits for a while). And then, sometimes, within a very short period of time, she has to go back to the commode again.


This morning we had 4 trips inside of 3.5hrs. I want her to be able to go to the toilet when she needs to. That is one of the main reasons we have someone here all the time, even though she is in AL, as I don't want her to sit and wait (nor would she - she would try to get up and go independently). However, it is hard to be patient and kind and not to be exasperated when she needs to go back to the commode a few minutes after she gets settled back into her chair!


I have been trying to give her prune juice daily, in the hopes that fewer larger BMs that pass easily might help. I think sometimes she only *thinks* that she has to have a BM, and in fact just passes gas. She does wear a pull up Depends, so if there is an accident, or we don't get there in time, the clean up is easier.


Any advice for how to reduce the frequent trips? If the frequent trips are just how things need to go today, any advice on how to remain kind and patient and helpful?

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Reply to shad250
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Trying, I am glad you got a smile out of my post. We all have to take things with a grain of salt sometimes or go completely over the edge. I have to put my dog outside when I change hubby and many’s the day I walk down the ramp to hook her up, mumbling under my breath “IhatethisIhatethisIhatethis!”

I hope you find a way to make Mom more comfortable.
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my husband is the same, I told the doctor about this issue, some meds reacts to this issue, it was reduced, it made a habit to him always going, noted, that it is only at home and not when I bring him with driving doing errands.....half of the day.....
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Screwed up bowels can go hand in hand with cancer treatments although usually the opiates needed for pain control cause constipation, could she be going frequently because she can't void completely? The number one recommendation from doctors is polyethylene glycol 3350 (Miralax), it is safe, reliable and doesn't cause any unpleasant side effects.
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trying42 Jul 10, 2018
Hey cwillie, yes, I think you might be on the right track. After consult with the palliative doc today we are going to try a suppository/day (Dulcolax) for a few days. So we did that 2 hrs ago - no great result. We will try again on Thursday and Friday. But yes, retention of stool is what the doc thinks, as my Mom's belly is very distended. Fortunately she isn't having any belly pain.

I was afraid to try the suppository as I have no experience with them, and didn't know what to expect. But so far, no great result (also possible that cancer is causing restriction in the bowel which is contributing to the problem).
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I, too, feel your pain, Midkid58. Also out of patience. Sometimes the only thing to do is walk away for a while.
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trying42 Jul 10, 2018
I hear you, Cedarlove. Counting down the minutes (39) until I am out of here for a 36 (!!!) hour break. Take care of yourself - we have to try to do that.
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I probably am going to be the only one brave enough to say I don't have any patience left, so I am not keeping it.

A gentle wind could knock me over somedays.
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trying42 Jul 10, 2018
ah Midkid58, I feel your pain. Maybe just try to remember there are others of us out here, all doing our best - you aren't in it alone, even if it feels like it sometimes.
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Could the prune juice be responsible for more trips?
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trying42 Jul 10, 2018
Fair question - I don't think so though - I haven't given her any today, she had a few prunes at lunch yesterday, but nothing since then.

I was trying the prune juice to avoid the situation where she would be trying to have a BM, but all we were getting was what I describe to my brother as "klingon poo", ie nothing falling into the toilet/commode at all.
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Oh, boy. I hear you. My husband is over 300 lbs. and bedridden. When he has a BM, he just turns on his side and let’s ‘er rip. He’s had diarrhea 2 out of the past 4 days. Other times, he has trouble passing it and when it finally happens after lots of yelling and carrying on (on his part) I feel like sending out birth announcements.

If you don’t already have one, get a bedside commode. Put it in a corner, obviously not in front of the open doorway or the window. You can even get a privacy screen for her. They make them in Bariatric sizes. My husband had one that had an attached pot and also fit over the toilet.

Keep gloves, wipes, disposal bags, under pads, diapers, bathing basin, towels and sheets within reach. In this heat, I powder my hands before putting on my gloves. It helps.

And, I lose patience. Frequently. Hubby can’t help it. I know that. But it still p***es me off. We’re human even if we are charged with superhuman responsibility. Give yourself a break. And a pat on the back.
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trying42 Jul 10, 2018
I had to laugh at the "birth announcements" comment!!! I completely get that. :)

I have the set up that you describe - chair/bedside commode, walker, gloves, wipes, etc... all is good there. And I know that I have masked any fatigue or frustration that I may be feeling from my Mom - so that is good too. I know this isn't easy for her, at all.

I was just having one of those mornings....

I feel for you with your husband and his size and being bedridden - that must bring on so many additional challenges that I am not even having to deal with....
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I think there are many others here who can give good advice on reducing the trips, but I will try to offer something to help with the challenges of this kind of intense care. I tried to remember that

(a) No one chooses to be in this situation. It's embarrassing, frustrating, and can take away someone's pride as well as make him/her feel some completely dependent.

(b) People need compassion, comfort, and understanding, and sometimes that might be the only positive thing about their lives at that time.

So by being kind, patient, and helpful, you're performing perhaps the most useful task you can for your mother at this time of her life.
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