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Several times my mother has put her hands in her poop during her sleep, now she is doing it when she is awake. She is not senile. She will be 86 in July, 2013. I am at my wits end as how to stop this. I know I can not tie her hands, but after cleaning up this mess on her hands, nails and the bed I am tempted. Please tell me that there is a solution!

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Back-zip jumpsuits from Buck & Buck. https://www.buckandbuck.com/ The restraint gloves are illegal in nursing home care in my state, but the back-zip jumpsuits have foiled my mom's ongoing persistent efforts to get to her own feces 24 hours/daily. Buck & Buck's customer service is unparalleled. They even added elastic in leg hems for my persistent mom along with name tags and 24 hour delivery. Incredible.
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Good idea Peptic. There are also one piece suites with a back zipper available from Buck and Buck who sell all kinds of adaptive clothing
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I know this thread is quite an old one, but thought I would just add this - nappy pins! I use five to pin my mother's pyjama jacket to her pyjama bottoms - front, sides and back at even spacing. She can't squeeze her hands inside her PJ bottoms then, and thus can't scratch her buttocks or her pressure sore. The pins I use are like slightly larger safety pins with snap-down tops which are impossible for her to undo or pull off. Since starting to use them, the deep weals made by her nails on her buttocks have healed up, as has the small but deep pressure sore on her coccyx, which she kept opening up by scratching off the dressing. She still tries to scratch through her pyjamas, but the damage is now limited as the fabric is quite thick.
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CindiMay77, thank YOU, too. Preventawear is a great find!
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God bless Google search and God bless CarolLynn above. She said, "So perhaps what I found will help you with your mom. In addition to the two piece looking zipper up the back outfits, they also had ladies back zippering jumpsuits. There may be other places but the one I found that I planned to order from was (buck and buck). "

While I am blessing, God bless Buck & Buck. My deeply demented mom has been decorating her own room, the shared hallways in her assisted living/nursing home/hospital care -- the whole world within her reach -- with her own feces for months now. The staff and I have been pulling out our hair. Socks on her hands at night has helped, but when she is awake she won't keep them on. Even when I was sitting right next to her at dinner (with other residents at the table), she is so quick and practiced that she reached into her pants to bring her bowel movement out for display at the dinner table this week.

No amount of reasoning, talking, writing (for her to read), signage, begging, etc., etc., has helped. I read a post on another site about in her frustration over losing her wits, it might be important to her to keep "part of her body" rather than to flush it away. Who knows? She's conversational, but she can't explain this.

My mom's fingernails have been caked with feces. No caregiver can be blamed for failing to keep up with it. It's an ongoing project without respite. She won't sit still for thorough cleaning very often. It's a health hazard for her and for everyone around her.

The Buck & Buck one-piece suit is the first useful advice I have found and I have asked A LOT of experts and read A LOT of websites for advice. This works. Buck & Buck has some other super useful ideas for our issues, too.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, CarolLynn.

And, God bless all of you who are caring for the demented.
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It would be nice if they'd come up with a plastic cone "skirt" to place at the waist (over the patient on the bed) that would leave her hands free, but prevent her hands from getting into a mess....
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Preventawear has clothing that can prevent this. The best way to get feces out of fingernails is to fill the bathroom sink with warm soapy water and soak her hands.
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Put gloves on and also I have taken a short nightgown and put snaps in the crotch area. You need to cut the nightgown up the middle a little but its like a onesy
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This is a multifacited problem. It's possible that she has a sensation of something unpleasant and is simply making an attempt to get it off. If she is half or fully asleep, this would all be instinctual behavior. I would check her skin for any signs of early breakdown, then check pH of stool and urine (might be highly acidic, which can be painful). Rather than super tight diapers, I would slather her skin with a protective barrier cream/ointment, and consider modified union suit or other garment that Velcros up the back rather than zips. Velcro can be removed by you, and you don't have the issue of stuck zippers when you need to get the garment off. I would also have cloth mittens that you can use, if you lotion her hands prior to putting them on, they have the added benefit of increased comfort and skin care. Checking her toileting schedule/needs, think of a lift (allows the person to better empty their bladder/bowels due to gravity and better position), would be helpful. Of course, I would let physician/nurse practitioner know the problem, including pH of urine/stool, especially if pH is low (acidic).
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Hey bean1046;i know when my husband bill was bedridden i would come out often at night to check on him. alot of the times it was to put another diaper back on him, for the one that he started with was torn off.I would pick up all the covers and pillows he would throw on the floor. he just couldn't be still, but did not like the diapers on him either. because of the lack of sleep on both our parts, we treated his situation with medication, and of course kept a log of all his output and input to watch for any changes that took place. have you tried playing music at night? i know this may not have any impact, but I know when I tried it with my husband, he seemed to really like this too. hope this helps. looks like you have alot of great advice from all of these individuals.one thing for sure. you're not alone bean1946. i pray that God's grace will enable you to keep loving her.And to receive His love in the process and to stay full of His joy and hope. Just always remember bean1946,nothing is too hard for our God, and you have the greater one living on the inside of you, Jesus. He's always with you bean1946. He will give you what you need, believe me He will and wants us to ask Him to also. God Bless You.
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I've said this before. The difference between caregivers and "the others" is....when we say we are having a $hitty day...we mean it literaly.
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I'm curious, Bean, did you ask her WHY she is doing this? What does she say? I agree it is probably a sign of dementia. Anyway, if you are the only caregiver, the suggestions that you take her to the potty every two hours around the clock are beyond ridiculous! When are you supposed to SLEEP? My mother is incontinent, with uncontrollable diarrhea. Thank God she doesn't feel the need to play with her poop, but our lives still revolve around her poop. Again, unlike some of the comments, we cannot CONTROL someone else's bowel movements. It does not matter what we feed her or when, or how frequently we wake her to make her use the toilet. She could go every two hours, and 15 minutes after she sat on the toilet for a half hour, she would poop in her diaper and get it all over the place. I wonder if people who think that is controllable ever had a baby!!!

Anyway, back to your problem. I doubt you can have her wear latex gloves 24/7. Wouldn't be good for her skin. I kind of like the mitten idea - wonder where you could buy those? I can't imagine trying to wrassle an 86-year-old woman into long johns with a zipper up the back. Does she wear pajamas or a nightgown? We keep my mom in a short nightgown for ease of access when she has to potty or to clean her, not unlike hospitals making patients wear hospital gowns.

Other than keeping her nails short for ease of cleaning, and keeping disinfecting wipes handy for when she's playing in her diaper, I don't know what to tell you. I don't think there is any way to keep an adult diaper tight enough that she would not be able to get into it if she really wanted to, which leads me back to WHY she does it. I know one elderly relative of mine used to reach in to dig her feces out when she felt constipated. We couldn't get her to stop doing that so we cut her nails very short so she wouldn't scratch herself and get an infection.

Ahhh, caring for the elderly...
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Hi Bean 1946,
My daughter will get onto her poop when she is constipated( she has special needs). Could your Mom be having issues with that? Keeping her on a high fiber diet might help.

Also , maybe, get her some pajama tops and bottoms-separates -and add some Velcro or , if handy enough, some buttons, to the bottoms of the top and the top of the bottoms ( haha-that is kinda funny ) so they can be secured together and not undone very easily. Some Velcro can be pretty strong but buttons would be better however I would not know how to make button holes. You can un do them for changes and cleaning but maybe Mom won't be able to.

Good luck!!
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Since your mother is showing signs of incontinence she should be checked and taken to the toilet every two hours, around the clock to prevent skin break down ( at night just checked and changed if soiled, you need your sleep to so at night maybe once or twice she should be checked at night). Start keeping a record of what times shes using the bathroom and a pattern may appear so that you can time her BMs and have her sit on the toilet or change her. The simple solution is to catch her as soon as she has one so she doesn't have the chance to get to it, keep her nails short and filed and try putting the diper on her backwards and snug so she cant undo the strapps. Good luck!
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Sure. Put rubber (thin) gloves on her at night. Since you need your sleep, if she wanders down there, then all you have to do it take the gloves off with feces and no fingernails getting involved. Good luck!
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My mom got bedsores on her bottom from sitting asleep all day in wet diapers when I didn't know she was incontinent. (she was wearing the diapers for the occasional "oops!" moments). It took more than a month to clear them up, with home health nurses each having different approaches for me to implement, some that made it worse. The solution finally turned out to be looser pants with more breathable fabric, and looser fitting diapers, plus A & D diaper creme (not ointment, it smells like fish, the creme has a very pleasant smell that actually blocks out the other unpleasant smells) and repositioning her more often. The best diapers for this problem turned out to be Stater Bros store brand, "Top Care" in extra large size, even though she only weighs 140 lbs, and they almost NEVER leak. Anyway, my point is, be careful of anything that is too snug or too closed up, it could lead to diaper rash or bedsores, or make them harder to heal.

My mom was just in the hospital for a UTI. She kept pulling out her I.V. They put these puffy white thumbless "mittens" on her hands that looked like boxing gloves. They were secured by these velcro strips that wrap around the wrist in a way that was too complicated for her to figure out how to remove. There was a flap you could pull up to expose the fingers if needed, and even with the flap open the tip of her fingers were too far from the tip of the mitten for her to do much harm. She didn't like them too much but they were only just a mild annoyance to her and they were much better than any other alternative, and while I was with her to monitor her behavior she could have them off.
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Anxiety meds, sleep aid, snugger diapers, check on her more frequently, make sure she's on a scheduled meal so you can possibly time when she'll go, and I recommend if all else fails, sterile gloves, the kind nurses and doctors use, they would not be easy for her to get off. Don't leave them on all day, but you could for a couple of hours if she's sleeping anyway and you feel she might go during her sleep and do this, like during a nap. But I'd go for the snugger diapers first, this might agitate her though.
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My daughter did this when she was being potty trained. I know it's a totally different situation but what I did to prevent her from doing this was duct tape her diaper so she couldn't get her little hands inside the diaper.

I don't know if your mom is in diapers but if she is maybe this will help.
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I believe if you could put her through cognitive testing, which I would never recommend that you do, you would find that she has some form of dementia. I guess it's up to doctors to determine what kind of dementia a particular patient has but I'll tell you with experience from three different kinds, the caretaking is just about the same regardless of what its called. What's more important is the stages in, from mild to severe. That more than anything will determine the level of care.

When my father with Alzheimer's was in a nursing home for the last 16 months of his life, his "roommate" was a decade older with some type of dementia, bedridden and in the fetal position. He regularly forced his hands into his diaper to masturbate or handle his poop. The neuro-psychiatrist explained to me that although sexuality is one of the last things to go, this manifestation is often indicative of reverting back to a one and a half to two year old stage where children are touching their genitalia because it feels good and show what adults might call an obsession with their poop because they feel they are losing something from their bodies.

Similar but not the same as the "union suit" suggested above, the nursing home put Lester in a jump suit made specially for problems such as this and for people with dementia who undress themselves. They have a zipper up the back so the person can neither undress themselves nor reach into their underwear. In Lesters case he just kept running his hand down the side of the jumpsuit absentmindedly looking for a pocket that wasn't there. It didn't frustrate him, it just didn't let him accomplish his goal.

Later, my aunt had alcohol dementia and when she was beginning to show signs of undressing, I remembered Lester and the jumpsuits and started doing a little research. For ladies, they make zipper up the back jumpsuits that look like two piece outfits. I was almost ready to order some of those for her when she had three strokes and ended up passing away.

So perhaps what I found will help you with your mom. In addition to the two piece looking zipper up the back outfits, they also had ladies back zippering jumpsuits. There may be other places but the one I found that I planned to order from was (buck and buck).

I would love to hear follow up on this if you have time to post. Good luck and best wishes.
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A regular toileting schedule may help - I understand she is "bed ridden" however, that's what lifts are made for. If she has Medicare they will usually "rent" the lift.
Other things that may work are Union Suites - old fashion I know but you can still find them and it makes it harder for the person to access that area (you can also cut and hem them for summer use if needed). Bike shorts also help - They are harder to get on because they are tighter, but that's the point. No matter what you do it will be more work for you, the care giver but you have to decide which battle you are willing to fight. Good luck!
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Hmm .. first thought. Would she wear gloves at night?
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Ya, she is suffering from dementia or similar....

Diapers....

medication - my answer to everything ;-) but really a little anxiety medication may help her sleep better and not wake up and do that....and it might help her in the day not to do it....

tell doctor what is going on...if they don't listen, keep contacting them...get doctor on the phone to talk to you... tell doctor everything... she must be showing other symptoms...
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Does she wear diapers? Make them snug.

Of course she's senile; no one in their right mind would play with their poop.
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