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If you are caring for a parent of the opposite sex, you can't walk into a public bathroom to assist them. This happens when a daughter is caring for a disabled elderly father or a son is caring for a disabled elderly mother.
Not every caregiving adult child has a spouse or children to accompany them to public areas and be available to handle this situation.

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I not only relate to this - I've written about it in my column and in forums and articles. Newer malls and other places have started putting up unisex bathrooms, but many restaurants and, shamefully, clinics, don't have them. I used to take my dad for his medical appointments and as soon as we'd sit down to wait he'd need to use the bathroom. He couldn't go alone. I couldn't go in the men's room nor could I take him in the women's room. It was horribly frustrating.

Dad even wore a protective pad on those occasions, but when I'd tell him he could "just go" because he was wearing protection, he'd get angry. He wasn't going to "wet his pants." So, while wearing a brief can help (he'd eventually have no choice), it's not a humane and dignified answer to this problem.

I can't fix this for you, but I can tell you I do understand.
Take care,
Carol
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I have the advantage of being a registered nurse, so, I suppose taking my 92 year old dad into either bathroom doesn't bother him or nor me. As a daughter, I don't give a rat's a-- if someone has the nerve to say anything negative to me for caring for my father. (And, if anyone dares to say anything, I would certainly ask them if THEY would like to toilet dad!)
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I'm caring for my 92 year old elderly dad that needs restroom assistance in the handicap stall. I just take him into the woman's restroom with me wherever and whenever he needs to go. I've never had a problem with other women that are in the bathroom at the same time ~ just smiles of understanding! (If I were a son with an elderly mother, I would take her into either bathroom with a shout of warning prior to doing so).
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Girl, you just reminded me of when I went to see Janet Jackson at Radio City Music Hall in March, 2011. The men's room was busy, but us guys just kept moving. The line outside the women's room, however, reminded me of a welfare office. Females pouted, jostled each other, argued. I told them the stalls in the men's room were available. Next thing I know we had a unisex bathroom.

When you gotta go you gotta go. Some women covered their daughters' eyes before entering; and again on their way out. Disabled elderly got assistance from their sons, daughters, and total strangers.

A unisex public bathroom isn't going to happen in our lifetimes, so do what you have to do. ... And don't be embarrassed to walk into a men's room to help your Dad. Just walk in and say "Sorry guys, but I have to help Dad." Some might become indignant and walk out; but most -- I dare to say -- will understand and go about their business.
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The grocery store that I use (Fry's, Krogers) has a family bathroom, and so does Lowes. It is a nice feature.
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Thanks for the input everyone. I think we need Congress to mandate unisex handicapped bathrooms in public buildings. When I retire I plan to get on this issue. If we can mandate curb cuts for the disabled, why has no one every addressed this one?? Perhaps we need to elect caregivers or people who have lived more of life in the real world.

Thanks again everybody.
Elizabeth
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Lizann, many stores have what is called "family restrooms" and you can use those with an opposite sex relative. Also, you really can, as a woman, carry your elderly disabled dad into a handicapped stall in the women's room and a man can also carry his mother or female elderly handicapped relative into the ladies room into the handicapped stall. The Americans with Disabilities Act gives you this right. In the ladies restrooms, all nudity is in the stall so there is nothing to see.
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For traveling purposes you can go on line and search rest stops along the highway path you will be traveling that has family bathrooms. We use them often for our daughter. When we brought my Mom back to our house -a 4 hour drive- I took my mom and daughter to a family bathroom( soooo much roomier -a wheelchair fits fine) and I so wanted to take a picture of my Mom and daughter on the pot. My daughter was on the teeny tiny one ( her choice-it was too small for her but , whatever) and my Mom on the regular one and they were holding hands( my daughter initiated this). It was so cute! Weird, but cute!
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I had previously responded to this question with a positive response. However, since then, I procceded to take my dad into the ladies room at a Walmart in New Tampa, FL. A Wal-mart female associate stopped me and told me that, "I couldn't take dad into the ladies bathroom." I told her, "Well, you can go ahead and take dad into the men's bathroom since you are so concerned regarding this issue!" Then, another Wal-Mart associate heard the converstion and told her co-worker that it was okay for me to take my 92 year old dad to the women's handicap stall. By that time, I had to change dad's clothing from top to bottom! (I had attempted to take dad to the "family bathroom," however, it was occupied and I didn't have any recourse.) I didn't call the store manager, but I should have. I encourage others that have a problem to ask a store associate to ask, "Well, do you want to take mom / dad into the bathroom that you deem appropriate?"
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I took my disabled and ill dad into the men's room when we were out, usually at Dr.'s appointments. Initially I used the women's restroom because I found that they're a little bigger and definitely nicer. I encountered a couple of women and no one ever had a problem and I received sweet, understanding smiles. But then my dad mentioned something about being in the ladies room, I don't remember what it was exactly but I thought he might be more comfortable in the men's room so I used the men's room from then on and never had a problem. I think my dad was more comfortable in the men's room.
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