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During the holidays we were traveling to NC to visit family. On our way down, at the very first rest stop, my mom (mid stage ALZ) all of a sudden forgot how to use the toilet. She didn't know how to sit down, she would just stand there and instead bend over and hang her head. I tried to help her but she resisted. I had to literally push her down to get on the toilet. She became, and still becomes upset when I have to do this. She had this trouble the whole time while in NC. We got back home after a week and it's still the same. There are times where she just goes with no problem, but it's not often.


I show her pictures of someone on the toilet, I demonstrate sitting on the toilet and a chair to simulate the act of squatting down. Nothing. I am not sure if this a new permanent thing we now have to tackle but I want to try my best to get her back to the way she was.


She will now be limited on how long she can go out with friends (a very active social life), since people will not want to push her down and feel like they are hurting her. I know I need to stay on top of it and just keep trying but if anyone has any advice or was in a similar situation please let me know.

Have you tried telling her to bend her knees instead of just sit down? This is a trick I use when trying to get my Mom to stand up to transfer. It might help her sit down as well.
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Reply to rocketjcat
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deedle7769 Jan 4, 2019
I tried this last night and it seemed to work! I had to encourage her to keep going lower and lower until her butt hit the seat, but she did it. I gave her praise for completing the act. I will incorporate this going forward, thank you for the advice.
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Glad to know others are in the same situation - I'm not alone (I love this forum!). You've received some great advice. I agree that she's afraid of falling. My husband has a toilet seat riser with arms attached and it has been an immense help. Whenever my Mother uses his bathroom, I show her the arms and tell her to hold to them and then she's able to sit without fear. There are so many to choose from and most are easy to install. Unfortunately, you can't take it with you when you go.  Eww, that sounded strange!
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Reply to dlpandjep
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In addition to higher toilet seat, do you have grab bars for her? There are bars that fit right on toilet with adjustable width. That allows her to use her arms to guide herself down and up so less fear of falling.
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Reply to Judysai422
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Hi Needle; my heart just broke when I read your post. I was taking care of a precious Alzheimer's lady not too long ago. We became very close and she went through this very thing. The only thing we could do is what you're doing now to start with, and eventually ended up with extra protection for her as far as pull ups . It really was easier on both her, the family and me. Her sister inlaw and I felt awful when we had to physically get her to sit down. We did try to raise the seat as high as we could so she didn't have to go down too far. Also I would drape the disposable pads on the seat so the back of her legs would feel something soft and not something cold. It seemed to work at times, but over all we ended up just having to clean her when necessary. Speaking softly to her and calmly will help also both you and her. Just keep loving g her through all this. This is such a hard illness to have to see anyone go through. My prayers are with you.
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Reply to littlegracie
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A dear friend of mine was unable to fully bend her knees due to injury. She bought a taller toilet seat, about 6" high, that screwed onto the toilet just like a regular seat. She barely needed to bend her knees to get her bottom on the seat. She had no fear of losing her balance & just collapsing if her knees gave out. You may be able to find something similar at a durable medical supply store. Best of luck to you!!!
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Reply to Longears
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Look for Teepa Snow clips on YouTube regarding how to walk a patient so that they feel comfortable and confident with you.

Take your mom to the bathroom, try to make her turn so that her back of the knees touch the toilet. Then hug her and tell her to bend her knees. Help her do that by putting your knees against her knees so that she feels safe because there is some kind of support fro her not to fall. Slowly lower her butt to the toilet seat.

Raised toilet seats work a lot better than those low comfy toilets. Also try to add color stripes to the seat so that she can see the toilet seat. They fear of falling because they can not see the white toilet seat in the probably white tiles environment.

Good luck.
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Toadhall Jan 6, 2019
Very good point about the white seat against the white tile! This applies to a lot of situations. With dementia, people have trouble with seeing things like this. They will find things such as a pattern on a floor to be confusing. It reminds me of my robot vacuum, he thinks a black floor is a cliff he will fall off of.
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I always say that if the elderly with dementia did not have to toilet, they'd have NO problems at all! The toilet becomes the biggest problem on earth for them. I watched my father suffer tremendously with the act of toileting, requiring 2 people to assist him, falling down off the toilet in the middle of the night, etc etc. I'm now watching my 92 y/o mother struggle with toileting in basically the same way. She is 100% incontinent, sometimes bowel incontinent as well, and has more issues with the toilet than with ANY other thing in her life. It's really sad and I hate to see all the suffering.

I'm sorry I have no wisdom to share with you about your mom forgetting how to sit on the toilet. I'm not surprised to hear about it, however, and expect my mother to have similar issues one of these days soon. God help & bless us all.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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With my father, we have to break it down into small steps. Instead of pivot or turn around, we say 1)move right leg back (pause) and move left leg forward (pause). (Patting leg to move and praising). He just forgets how to get there. Lots of patience.
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Reply to Invisible
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Try using Depends or some other similar pull ups. She may be moving towards not recognizing when she needs to go.
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Reply to MarDeeBee
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It is part of the progression of the disease - and she likely has moved into the next stage, when they forget how to toilet themselves. People with ALZ don't get better or move backwards into a previous stage.
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