First post in this forum, and before anything else, I want to say what an amazing resource this is. So many thoughtful responses to very difficult questions. My heart goes out to so many people with such difficult care situations. It's enormously helpful to see a community like this here, and I've been able to use a couple of tips here to improve my mom's care situation. But there are still many serious problems, with the hours between 12-9 AM each night being the biggest concern.
My 85 y.o. mom lives alone with my 80 y.o. father, who cares for her 24/7. She will usually get up between 3-5 times per night to go to the bathroom, which is very dangerous because she has diabetic neuropathy and her legs are very weak. She gets around with a dining room chair that she has used for the past several years as a walker (she refuses to use the walker in the house unless her HHA makes her use it, so the dining room chair is basically an extension of her body now). Sometimes she goes to the bathroom and usually does pee quite a bit each time. She'll sometimes stay in there, either because she fell asleep in there or was too weak to get up. All of this means that my dad stays up all night to help her go in and out of the bathroom, or clean up after her if she has an accident on the floor or on the bed.
My dad is utterly exhausted from doing this day after day. I don't know how to help them. Here is a list of things we have tried, without success:
* Temazepam to try helping her sleep: she took them every night, sometimes secretly doubled up on it, her body eventually adjusted and it lost its effect. Took a while to wean her off of that. Same with Benadryl. Melatonin also ineffective.
* Pull-ups or briefs for urinary incontinence: sometimes she takes them off, and it's done nothing to change her nighttime behavior of getting up.
* CPAP machine for deeper sleep (she's had sleep apnea her whole life): she is scared of it and has refused to use it.
* Bedside commode is 3 feet away from the bed. She has never used it.
* Overnight care at home: my dad deeply distrusts strangers in the house, and refuses to consider it.
* ALF or MC facility: my dad is convinced my mom would be abused and neglected there, and refuses to consider it.
* Eating earlier & last drink of water earlier in the evening: she has had chronic appetite issues for about 15 years, so getting her eat anything earlier is really hard. My dad has the habit of giving her a glass of milk after dinner, which is between 9 and 10 PM.
* She takes Oxybutinin 5mg twice per day, but it seems to have no effect at all.
This feels like a puzzle that just can't be solved, and the situation gradually gets worse. My mom's sleep schedule is completely backwards, my dad hardly sleeps at all and is burned out, and I get pulled in because I'm the only child and along with the HHA who comes by for 2 hours per day, she and I are literally the only physical and emotional support they have. I do as much as I can, but I don't live with them, so the nighttime situation is totally out of my reach. A lot of this is the accumulation of many years of behavioral issues (i.e. stubbornness), and now the physical issues are layered on top of it. I'm worried my mom will fall, and we'll have a real crisis on our hands. If she could just sleep through the night, and break the habit of constantly going to the bathroom at night, my dad could sleep, and while the situation would still be precarious, it would be far better than it is now.
I've thought about getting zip-up pajamas for her that she can't remove, but I feel like that won't necessarily break the habit of getting up during the night, and she might struggle to try to take the pajamas off.
Is there something else that we could try? Or double down on an approach we've already tried before? It's tough because my dad doesn't have the discipline or patience to really enforce behavior changes in a compassionate way...they just end up arguing.