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My father, who lives with me, had major surgery in October and has done very well in rehab. He will be coming home this weekend. He has his own first floor bedroom and bathroom about 10 steps away. We have a large home and the rest of my family resides on the second floor.


Before he had surgery, we caught him urinating in a flower vase one time and an empty milk jug. He explained that he was in too much pain (this problem has been corrected by the surgery) to get up and go to the bathroom. I explained firmly that this was not acceptable and that he needed to use the bathroom like everyone else.


In rehab, once he was able to get up and go to the bathroom, he has at times resisted that and continues to urinate (sometimes) in the container the facility provided him. I have explained to him, again, that when he gets home he will have to get up and go to the bathroom. His doctor has confirmed that he will be physically able to do this. Dad has no incontinence issues.


When I visited with him earlier this week, he told me to make sure that when I bring him home to ask the rehab facility if he can have a urinal to bring home. I explained, again, that he was not going to be going to the bathroom in his room. His response is to fuss about it and say, "Well, I might not be able to get up in time," etc. and then shut down the conversation.


Dad does not have dementia or Alzheimer's, but does have some sort of bizarre fixation with always feeling a need to urinate and having a fear that he cannot.


I have regular caregivers (OT, speech therapy, etc.) coming to our home as long as they are needed, and I know I will be able to get them to remind him of this. I was just wondering -- has anyone else been through something like this?


I am to the point where I feel like telling him if you can't go to the bathroom like everyone else, you are going to have to find another place to live (which is, in reality, not a financial option for me). Thank you --

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AliBoBali -- I have exactly the same issue(s) with Dad. He also refuses to cook anything for himself. By "cook" I mean heating up water or putting something in the microwave. He is a pro at using the toaster, though.

Prior to his surgery (which was to correct a hiatal hernia) he lived alone for decades, and had gotten accustomed to a life where he basically lived like a caveman. His house was always tidy but his personal habits are terrible (constantly ruining his bedroom carpets/furniture with spilled food because he refuses to eat at a table because he didn't have a TV in front of him); the weird need to urinate is jugs/glasses etc. started about 7 years ago after he had knee surgery. I have confirmed with his longtime PCP and others that he does NOT have dementia. It runs in the family and I have kept an eye out for it for many years. He came to live with me a year ago. 

After I noticed the urination problem, I spoke to dad about it an he assured me that it would not happen again. About a week later, he did it again, and then at one point went to the effort of finding where my wife kept her glass flower vases and took that back to his room and started peeing in that. Needless to say she was not pleased and spoke to him about it. That was not long before he had the surgery.

I have already spoken to the caregivers and they have told me that they will speak to him about his hygiene habits, thanks for the suggestion. Typically if I ask him to do something, it falls on deaf ears but if the doctor/nurse says it, it's canon.
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Inreverse, your dad sounds a lot like my dad. My dad didn't want to get up to make proper meals (even heating things in microwave is like work to him and he's perfectly able bodied), didn't want to put pants on, didn't want to get up for the bathroom if he could just use a bedside urinal instead. I get it.

I just remembered something:  my bro saw my dad's bedside urinals and said something like "That's disgusting. You can't pee like a normal person in a bathroom?"  And my dad responded to that and ditched the urinals when he stayed at my bro's house.  Something about my brother saying it helped to "shame" my dad into acting better when in other people's company.  (My father is now in his own senior apartment and I don't know what he's doing these days, if same old habits or not.)  Do you have siblings who can help to get the message across that this is unacceptable?  What if you "tell on him" to his doctors?  I did that with my dad, only to allow him to get someone else's direction besides mine, because he had stopped listening to me.  

I just realized I'm assuming you're a woman, lol.   If your dad is like my dad, he will respond better to having strangers or male siblings tell him to "go the bathroom like everyone else."  
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Let me clarify. He’s 81, lived by himself for many years, and for a long time just got up in in whatever state of dress he was in and go. We have small children and that’s not an option anymore. When I first asked him about the bathroom problem he said he was tired of having to get up and “get dressed” (I.e. put on his bathrobe) to use the bathroom. He has no prostate problems and no physical limitations keeping him from using the bathroom the conventional way. That comes straight from his doctors.

He also eats in bed (something else he has done for many years) and has ruined his carpeting/sheets/clothes on a number of occasions. Trust me, it’s laziness. My mother passed many years ago and until he came to live with us, there was no one to try to help guide him to better habits.

I’m not trying to be mean, difficult or unsympathetic. I know I’m not going to change his behavior much. I’m just asking if anyone has had any success with helping improve hygiene habits with their elderly parents.
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You don't say what kind of surgery. If prostrate, then he may have problems for a while. My husband had a procedure and had a hard time holding it for a few days. You need to talk to the nurse when discharged to see how he has done there.
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Sounds like the surgery he had was not related to prostate...? "He was in too much pain to get up and use bathroom before."

In addition to the major surgery from before, your dad may also have separate and common problem with enlarged prostate and frequent urination.
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You can't make him behave like a healthy, younger person if he isn't one. This is a common thing in elders that they need special bathroom accommodations, and while I appreciate your perspective, Inreverse, of wanting to keep a normal household, elder care isn't normal. You have to make exceptions for their aging bodies.  
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My husband constantly felt like he had to pee. His doctor suggested saw palmetto as directed on the package. It took a few weeks but it greatly reduced the prostate pressure on his bladder, and therefore the felt need to pee.

I really don't understand why a urinal would be objectionable, especially if he would empty it and clean it promptly.

I don't know if you have ever had urinary problems, but believe me, it isn't fun!

You could be right, it could be laziness, I suppose. I think it more likely to be some anxiety about having accidents.
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Hi, inreverse,
You did not mention your father's age. Many men experience enlarged prostates and that can cause urinary urgency as well as difficulty starting to urinate. Here is some information: webmd.com/men/guide/prostate-problems#1
There are medications that can help if that is the issue, but if he has multiple medical issues I am hesitant to suggest more medications.
I think you have some good suggestions here regarding the urinal and or bedside commode.
Otherwise, you set yourself up for a war of wills and you will lose that one. For whatever reason, this is his preferred method. It is very difficult to try to control how another adult takes care of bathroom issues.
My suggestion is to make peace with it, set him up for success so that unpleasant odors are not an issue and move on. I know it is not easy and I do not mean to make light of your dilemma.
Best of luck,
Margaret
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". . .bizarre fixation with always feeling a need to urinate and having a fear that he cannot."

This isn't a bizarre fixation. It's a typical situation. He may be having prostate problems. He should talk to his doc.
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It's a real problem that once an older person stands up, gravity kicks in and makes it difficult/impossible for them to make it to the bathroom.

If you decide to fight this issue with your Dad, I predict he won't comply, and you'll be miserable. Either make accommodations to him, or kick him out. (p.s. accommodations that we made included removing all carpet, a bedside commode and portable urinal. He agreed to Depends).
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inreverse, it is not unusual for an older person not to be able to get to the bathroom in time. Eventually it will happen to all of us.

It is definitely not being lazy. I know for myself, if I sit too long in front of my computer, then stand-up, oops I have to make a mad dash to the restroom, and hope I make it in time.

With your Dad, hopefully he will be pain free so it will be easier for him to use the bathroom. But you need to give him time to adjust.

What a lot of caregivers do is have a porta-potty in the bedroom in case the parent cannot make it to the bathroom in time. With your Dad's case, using a portable urinal will be much easier for him and everyone in the household until he feels more comfortable. He can empty out the urinal and clean it. I see nothing wrong with that.
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