Anyone have experiences of a loved one digging themselves out in order to have a bowel movement?

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I realize this is a very embarrassing situation but one that we are very frustrated with. We are concerned that our mother will get an infection or give the rest of the family an infection because of her bathroom habits. We have already gone into the bathroom after her only to find feces smeared on the toilet from her digging herself out. We have tried talking to her about this many times but her short term memory is gone and she continues to do what she wants.


She is on stool softeners, we try to get her to take in more liquids, she doesn't eat very well, is on Coumadin (have to watch the vit K foods). She craves sweets and we find her up very early in the morning eating gumdrops and candy.


We have talked to the doctor about this nasty habit without much luck on what to do to get her to stop. He told us to give her Miralax which we do.


All suggestions appreciated.

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My grandma was doing this. It was so gross and was causing major issues. She was actually ripping herself and causing herself to slightly bleed. We talked to the doctor and he said the only thing that we could do was to follow her into the bathroom and start wiping her after bowel movements. (My grandma has severe dementia and there are many many reasons we shadow her everywhere she goes anyway so to deal with wiping after bowel movements just really just another thing to add to the list of many things we did for her). We just remind her when she tries to do that kind of thing that the doctor said we needed to help her wipe because she cannot reach it well enough. I wish you luck. I have her on daily prunes and grapes for fiber plus fiber con and tons of water to help the stool by very soft and easy to push out. That also seems to help. If she isn't constipated then I do not have to battle with her to keep her hands out of it.
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Totally relate. my mom had been doing this for years! Chronic constipation from pain med. Now add dementia and hygiene goes out the window resulting in constant uti's...we too begged her to stop. Miralax helped some. Now she has liver disease and luckily the meds for that stopped the constipation. Thank you God!
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Have you discussed the fact that her short term memory is gone with her doctor? I would investigate if she does indeed have constipation. The reason is that I know of quite a few people who have mental decline and dementia who have terrible incidents with feces in their home.

I know of 2 people personally, who had to hire professional cleaners to come in and clean their bathrooms due to the dementia patients messing it up with their feces. All over the walls, floor, sink, etc. Apparently, there is some kind of a compulsion and the patient is not aware of the issues and/or cannot prevent themselves from doing it.

Regardless though, I would restrict her going into the bathroom by herself. That way someone can attend to her needs appropriately and get her help, if needed, for her digestive problems. You may need to independently verify, what is going on so you can confirm it to the doctor.
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She claims she has been doing this for years. My thought it is just a normal thing to aid her in going to the bathroom. Her diet and fluid intake is not what it should be so all the stool softeners in the world won't help. I'm now starting to research what a geriatric Doctor deals with as there are many other habits starting to surface that we weren't aware of because she hasn't been monitored as closely as she is now. She won't stop the digging as more than one of us has begged her and she promised not to do it anymore but we still find her doing it.

We can't over medicate her in the laxative dept or now you are dealing with another problem.

This lady is set in her ways and will become very argumentive if she is pushed. She is obsessed with lights being on, wants to sit in the dark all the time, is a hoarder, the house is a mess! Very disturbing for all of us to go there for a visit. I tried cleaning up after her but she just drags out more stuff to the area you just cleaned.
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I agree with cwillie. I think your solution might be found in your mom's motivation for this. I hope it is just a case of constipation because you'll be able to stumble onto the right combination of stool softeners. If it's an obsession the solution may not be so easy.
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Are her bowel movements still hard or is this an obsession? If it is the latter all the laxatives in the world will not work for her and you may need to discuss that with her doctor or get a referral to a geriatric psychiatrist.
If she actually can't go then there are countless threads dealing with constipation, even others with your same issue. You can see what others have had to say by using the site search box on the upper right.
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