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My mother (89, type 2 diabetic, uses walker) has had this issue off and on very occasionally for the past year. Not always loose stools, but not feeling the urge and then not making it quite to the toilet on time. This past week has been very frequent, with major clean up and carpet cleaning required once. After the initial bm she is fine the rest of the day. No temp or other illness going on. No change in diet. The fact that she can't tell when she has to go has me concerned. Does this have to do with diabetes, or is she starting to have bowel incontinence? I've set a timer to get her to the bathroom regularly a bit after breakfast, but that is a real struggle when she says she doesn't have to go. Going to talk to the doctor's assistant next week, but in the meantime, any suggestions? Thanks!

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Thank you all for your helpful answers. She's been doing fairly well since I posted my question, with perhaps only one episode. Have set my timer to remind her to head to the bathroom after breakfast (resists but it does help). She's had bladder incontinence for many years and wears "nighttime panties" to bed, and that works well. Not sure extending those into the morning would help at this time. Will keep it in mind if things get worse. The neuropathy makes sense, but can anything be done to reverse it? Diabetes is under control, and I've gotten her into physical therapy to hopefully help with her mobility.

Sorry I've not responded until now. Have not been getting notices. Admin. help?
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Sometimes people with diabetes develop neuropathy; not just in the feet, but everywhere including digestion along with bladder and/or bowel incontinence. Discuss with her doctor. If she already has burning, tingling, numb feet, neuropathy could be a contributing factor. Good luck.
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You may want to have her tested for colon cancer. My mom had a change in bowel habits and her primary recommended a stool sample. We followed through and she had colon cancer stage 3B. We helped her through a year of chemo and she is now cancer free going on five years.
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I can testify that the more I sit, the less gravity works for me. I think it is the sedentary nature of life at 89 that makes you less aware that you need to go, coupled with the time it takes to get there when you realize you do. My father is also experiencing this now to the point where he won't drink after a certain time at night to ensure he doesn't wet the bed. He always has a stack of Depends available to him (near the toliet) and we occasionally use an Imodium tablet if he is caught by surprise. Am going to try the Metamucil trick and I am encouraging him to get up and walk more frequently to let gravity do the job. Read somewhere that Raisin Bran and ice cream can contribute to explosive diarrhea.
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I wouldn't call it that. She is just waiting too long to get to the toilet and can't even smell the bad odor about herself because she has lost her olfactory sense. I know it well as my late mother was like this.
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My almost 90 year old mother had frequent bowel accidents even though she wore a diaper. If your mother doesn't wear a diaper I would first suggest using that as a protection. We also noticed that the episodes increased if she drank chocolate coffee drinks or shakes containing milk. You might look into that too as a culprit. Hope this helps but when they start getting up in age they can't control their bowels and that's going to happen.  Mom having dementia, sometimes forgets to put on a depend.
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If diarrhea is an issue, my Mom used to take liquid Imodium. That way the dose could be adjusted. White sticky rice in the diet also helps with that, as does Kefir, a liquid yogurt drink.
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When I was in elder care, my client was frequently bladder incontinent--this was simply due to the fact it was a real chore to get her to the bathroom and at least a 20 minutes procedure to get her to "go" make sure she was "empty" and redress her. She wore a pad, but it just caught the little leaks. Towards the end of my tenure with her, she was having routine bowel incontinence also. I'd walk in Monday mornings and know just what a rough weekend she'd had, by the smell. She "had" white carpet in her huge master suite, but after cleaning it twice, three times a week--yuck--it smelled horrific all the time.

She withheld fluids and drank only about 8 oz of water per day. This led to more confusion and constant dehydration. It was a real rat race, poor lady. When she was completely bowel incontinent she was moved to a lovely ALF where she lived out her last few years. Her family (though she had almost 40 hours of respite a week) was totally exhausted with caring for her.
She had Parkinson's--so different than diabetes, but the dementia was there and she'd simply "forget" what it felt like to have the urge to use the bathroom. For a dignified woman, this was so humiliating. I know that they handled this issue MUCH better in the ALF, than having me or one of her family help her.
Just a very sad fact of aging. (And yes, she'd fight me on using the bathroom every single time I mentioned it--over 2 years of "no, I'm fine".)
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Good advice above as always. The transition to Depends is not easy but you can do it gradually if necessary. My mom started with bladder incontinence and then shortly after the bowl incontinence started. Sometimes she uses the toilet but whenever you remind her it's always no and it can be difficult to make her. So I don't sweat the small stuff any more, Depends (I use a genera brand that works great as well) are my new best friend :) Don't get me wrong, changing over to using Depends can be a real fight but it has gotten easier over time.
I find if everything is done with the utmost of compassion, patience and love, it will work out. Just give it a little time.
Good luck and take care of yourself.
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As a caregiver to my brother with ALZ I witnessed the incontinence come on gradually. First to occur was the 1. As the doctor said, "Incontinence is not occasional." He was right and I was advised to transition him to the Depends, that was a challenge and I had to call in experienced "troops" to help. The 2 started next and it was more like "just not making it," at first. If you think about it there are a lot of steps to the going, I can understand with any memory impairment or the "just getting old" this is part of it all. You may want your mom checked out by her doctor, the diabetes type 2 may have something to do with it, but probably not, 1 would be a bigger concern with the diabetes I learned. I know watching this, the changing over to disposables is difficult and sad, but, it makes sense to do it. It is better for your mom, less embarrassing really. Will be easier for you in some respects, yet harder in others, no way to get around the maintenance of it all. My brother's comfort is home, so, he prefers to wait. Also likes the word, "No," so bathroom reminders were not a success. Encouraging could bring on agitation. This is your mom, you sound loving and caring, just feel like you'll do what you must. God Bless
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It all has to do with the brain. They no longer realize they need to go. To make sure my Mom emptied her bladder, I would tell her to push, she looked at me like I was nuts. They don't feel hunger or thirst either. I agree that taking her to the bathroom every two hours is a good idea. Depends another but with diarrhea u can still have problems. Don't give her anything until u speak with her doctor but cut out juices and coffee at this point. I found canned fruit was a problem too.
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I agree with the other, but before you add or subtract anything to Mom's diet, you need to check with her doctor first. As an aging diabetic, she should be seeing her doctor frequently. In your case, the best offense might be a good defense, meaning do get her depends. She may be unhappy to begin with; no adult welcomes having to wear diapers, but if she is aware of the mess she makes when she has an accident, she might not protest too vehemently. Good luck!
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For this problem with my husband, our doctor suggested trying Metamucil, which adds bulk to the stool.  It has helped lessen his diarrhea.  We started with one-half dose daily, working up to 1 full dose   (using the measure that comes in the container)  daily.   I also give him 2 tablets of Immodium when accidents occur.
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My Mom went through this for years.I think it is something that just happens at a certain age. It helped a lot to use briefs. It also might help to make it a habit to go to the toilet after breakfast whether she says she needs to or not.
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Dear GGsGirl,

I'm so sorry to hear what your mom is going through. And I know its tough on you as well having to clean up the messes. Does your mom use any Depends products? This might help minimize the clean up.

Glad you are taking her to the doctor for an assessment.
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