Using a toilet is one of the fundamental things that everyone needs to do. We are taught at an early age to use a toilet to eliminate our bodily wastes and this is ingrained into us over our lifetime.
It, therefore, comes as a shock when we find that we can’t use a toilet as we have always done. We might be elderly and bedridden or recovering from surgery. Either way, we can’t walk around and visit the toilet as we would like. Instead, we have to rely on other people and mobility aids to help keep ourselves clean and comfortable.
What to use if a person can’t walk to the toilet?
It’s so difficult for people with limited mobility to walk to the toilet. They are always worried in case they don’t get there in time. They’re ashamed if they wet or mess themselves, but the fact of the matter is that they can’t help it.
If the body has to eliminate waste then you can’t stop it. So what do we do? The following are the most common solutions if a person is unable to walk to the toilet?
What is a bedside commode?
A portable commode is a chair on wheels that can be moved to wherever it’s needed. In the seat of the chair is a hole into which fits a removable bowl. These are especially useful if the patient can get out of bed, but can’t walk very far. It’s useful if the senior is at home and is recovering from an illness or surgery. DriveMedical is one of many companies that make these.
The commode stays in the bedroom until needed. Before using the commode the patient or carer must ensure to lock its wheels. After use, the patient’s carer empties and cleans the bowl ready for the next time.
How to use bedpans?
For those of us who cannot leave our bed for any reason, we can use a bedpan. These are a shallow bowl with a rim shaped like a toilet seat. The carer slides the pan underneath the patient’s bottom.
This is a very difficult method to master, as it’s not a natural way to empty the bowels. If possible, and if the patient’s doctor allows it, try to raise the ‘head-end’ of the bed. You’ll find it’s much easier to use a bedpan while partially sitting up.
How to use urine bottles?
It’s much easier to use a urine bottle if you just want to pass water. Urine bottles are very useful if the patient suffers from incontinence, something that will be familiar to many seniors. They can have a bottle ready by their bed in case they need one in the night.
For obvious reasons, a male’s urine bottle is different from a female’s. The shape varies to suit their different anatomy. The big difference between using a urine bottle and a bedpan is that it’s easier for the patient to use a bottle themselves, without any help.
You can buy urine bottles made from stainless steel or from plastic, but most hospitals and care homes use a disposable cardboard version. These reduce the need to wash and sterilize and prevent the chances of cross-infection.
How to wear adult diapers?
Many seniors suffer from incontinence, even if they have no mobility issues at all. For these adults, a diaper is the best solution to the problem. They might be able to walk satisfactorally, but the warning messages between bladder and brain, just don’t work correctly.
You can buy special disposable diapers designed specifically for adults, in adult sizes. They allow the wearer to go about their daily life, without the worry of continually rushing to the toilet. Most cases of incontinence consist of a weakening of the bladder muscles, resulting in just a trickle now and again. So, in these cases, an absorbent pad might be all that’s needed.
You may have a lot of control over your bladder or none at all. So, depending on the level of control will determine which type of diaper you use. Adult diapers can look just like a ‘grown-up’ version of a baby’s disposable diaper or can be either an absorbent pad or almost indistinguishable from a pair of underpants.
It depends on the extent of your problem as to which type you should use. Most disposable diapers (and adult ones are no exception) contain a silica gel that absorbs moisture on contact.
The moisture is locked away in a special compartment, so it doesn’t come into contact with the skin. This results in far fewer cases of soreness or ‘diaper rash’ and allows the seniors to comfortably go about their daily life.
On this forum, you can find more ideas about what can be used if a person is unable to walk to the toilet.
Can’t walk to the toilet?/ What can you do:
Although this might seem easier said than done. But, good bowel and bladder control are all about practice and forward planning.
As soon as you arrive in a new place, find out where the toilets are. If you need a walking aid such as a walking stick, mobility walking or some other device, make sure you have it to hand at all times.
RELATED: Guide to mobility aids for seniors
Don’t rush. Rushing can result in a fall. So, try to leave enough time to safely walk to the toilet.
Don’t leave it until the last minute. As soon as your brain receives a warning message from your bowels or bladder, get moving.
If you’re in a hospital, don’t forget to tell the medical staff that you have a problem or that you use laxatives or continence aids at home. They might provide you with different continence aids to those you are used to. But, it doesn’t matter, use them anyway.
How to maintain a healthy Bowel
Unless your doctor tells you not to, drink plenty of water. Although this might seem counter-intuitive, drinking enough water helps your kidneys to work properly and will help to soften your bowel movements.
Certain beverages such as coffee, alcohol and soft drinks irritate the bladder. Stay away from them.
RELATED: Nutritional needs of seniors
Every time you go to the toilet, stay there until you have completely emptied your bladder. Sometimes, your bladder might release urine in spurts. Be aware of this, allow for it and wait until you’ve completely finished.
Try to maintain a regular toilet routine. Visit the toilet after every meal, even if you don’t feel it’s necessary. Similarly, use the toilet before going to sleep at night and upon awakening in the morning.
Walking is the natural way to encourage your bowels to start moving. If you don’t do much walking exercise, you might find that your bowels don’t work correctly. Try to have a short walk at regular times of the day, and stick to the times so your body gets used to it.
RELATED: How to improve walking?
Use a good position when you sit on the toilet. Lean slightly forward, with a straight back and hands or forearms on your thighs. If you can, raise your feet slightly on a low footstool and open your legs as well.
Eat high fiber foods. Plant roughage increases the bulk of your stools and makes them softer and easier to pass.
Only use laxatives when you have to. Try to rely on other methods first.
If you can afford it, consider making alterations to your home. An extra toilet and shower room adjoining your bedroom is very useful and might be cheaper to build than you think.