General Question

Lonelyheart807's avatar

How do you feel about "bathroom stuff" when it comes to caring for an elderly parent?

Asked by Lonelyheart807 (2508points) February 5th, 2021

What if you just can’t do it? I mean, I guess if you’ve had kids, it might not seem like a big deal, but I never did have children, and this is one thing I cannot handle.

I’ve been caring for my mom for about three years now, although it’s only been in the past year or so that she has gotten a lot weaker and a lot more feeble minded. Even then, she’s been able to do for herself in bathroom matters, but now she has a sore on her bum that needs looking after…and I just can’t. Especially given that she doesn’t always clean herself the best back there.

My one sister is willing to come over and handle the wound care for the five days of the week that the nurse can’t come until the wound heals. (Insurance only covers twice a week.) My mom is willing to pay her for each day she comes, especially since it’s a twenty minute drive one way. She’d have to pay for outside nursing otherwise, and it would cost a lot more.

But my other siblings are judging me very harshly for not being able to deal with this. It’s funny, because they’re pushing for my mom to spend her money for a home health care person for when I have to return to my job in the office. (My job is graciously letting me work from home for a few weeks when she gets home from rehab.)

Mind you, these are the same people who maybe come over three or four times a year to play the dutiful children (Christmas, burthdays, etc.) They have never once been willing to take mom for a weekend to give me a break.

So, is there something wrong with me, that I struggle with this aspect of her care? (And spare me the “she did the same for you when you were a baby”. I know she did, and I appreciate that, but I didn’t exactly have any say in the matter, and I can’t help if I have an aversion to that sort of thing.)

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43 Answers

Inspired_2write's avatar

Another option:

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JLeslie's avatar

I think it is hard to do the bathroom stuff for your own parents, especially if they are not the same gender. A sore on the bum wouldn’t bother me at all, but having to wipe my dad I would feel uncomfortable I think and even just bathing him. Even my mom I would feel odd helping her after a bowel movement, maybe I would get used to it if I had to, but otherwise taking care of wounds or anything else for my mom I would be ok.

If you can get someone to help during the day why not do it? If they can help her bathe, maybe clean the house, and prepare a meal. Help her with any exercises she does. I have a friend who is a nurse anesthetist and her sister is a nurse, and they have someone come almost daily to help care for their mom. I think partly so their mom doesn’t feel her daughters have to take on the whole burden.

Lonelyheart807's avatar

@Inspired_2write I never thought about that option, but it also involves applying medicine in her butt crack and I just…can’t.

Inspired_2write's avatar

@Lonelyheart807
Well the bidet could help prevent sores but hire a person to just apply the ointment and other personal things only.

Also is she able to apply it herself?
Or add the ointment onto a pad that she can wear?

Lonelyheart807's avatar

@JLeslie thank you for understanding. It’s just something about her “nether regions” that makes uncomfortable (and would for anybody, not just her.) When she had surgery on her nose and her temple for some skin cancer that had to be removed, I cleaned, treated, and rebandaged her wound daily as needed, with no problem. So it’s not so much the general principle as it is the area of the body. But my family won’t understand that, and is making veiled threats against me as to what will happen after my mom is no longer around.

Lonelyheart807's avatar

@Inspired_2write yes, but she also got the wound from sitting in one place too much, despite my trying to get her to get up throughout the day. She sleeps in her easy chair downstairs, and hasn’t slept in her bed for I don’t know how long. That probably doesn’t help either, as you can’t really sleep on your side or your stomach in an easy chair.

chyna's avatar

I have no options or advice for you. I just wanted to say that you are not the only person that feels that way. I had to take care of my mom for the last couple of years of her life and had the same issues. It’s really hard when you have no help and have never had to deal with this kind of thing before.
Don’t feel bad about how you feel. Your feelings are real.

Inspired_2write's avatar

@Lonelyheart807
Bed sores! wow those are painful and can be prevented.
Check online as the the best way to prevent and treat.

You can help prevent bedsores by frequently repositioning yourself to avoid stress on the skin. Other strategies include taking good care of your skin, maintaining good nutrition and fluid intake, quitting smoking, managing stress, and exercising daily .Feb 29, 2020

Perhaps to get into counselling to round up your relatives to have each family member assist in what ever way that they can and not leave it to just one person to handle.

Certainly she requires experts care at this stage in her life and I suppose family may worry about admitting her since Covid deaths are occurring in Seniors homes/hospitals.

Hospice care may help call them as well.

Do not leave this for another day of anguish for your mother nor you.

Take control of the situation before she gets worse.

Bedsores (pressure ulcers) – Symptoms and causes – Mayo…www.mayoclinic.org › symptoms-causes › syc-20355893

JLeslie's avatar

@Lonelyheart807 Are you a woman also? I grew up seeing my mom naked and all the women in my family are naked around each other without thinking about it. Not that we are parading around the house naked, but anyway, it’s not a thing. For some people it is very uncomfortable. When I cared for my aunt my sister and I would be in the bathroom with my aunt while she was peeing, or even help her put a panty liner, we didn’t think twice about it, but we didn’t have to clean her after using the toilet, she was still able.

Did they give you hydrocolloid for the sore? As it starts to heal you should be able to leave it on for a couple of days at a time, but initially it will need to be cleaned and changed more often. You could have someone come in just to tend to her wound. A nurse visit. That is a very common home care need.

Lonelyheart807's avatar

@chyna maybe no advice, but it helps to know that I am not some horrible person for struggling with this, as my family seems determined to make me feel.

Lonelyheart807's avatar

@Inspired_2write I am trying to come up with different options, but my mom is so stubborn and doesn’t like to change how she does stuff. We do have a pull-out couch downstairs, and I am going to try and talk her into getting an air mattress to put on that for her to sleep on. (I don’t think she can go upstairs much anymore, certainly not everyday to sleep. Apparently air mattresses are great, because they can greatly relieve any pressure, even if you sleep on your back.

janbb's avatar

@Lonelyheart807 I feel the same way. My Mom once called me into the bathroom for help when she was in a nursing home and I cringed but luckily it was just to help her pull up her pantyhose. It would have been really hard for me to do – and I did have babies.

JLeslie's avatar

One more thing, your mom is living with you. That means you are doing a ton for her, and psychologically you carry more burden than your siblings as far as I am concerned. Plus, I think you said your mom is paying your sister? So, she is getting compensated for her work, which is a little odd for just a week or two of help, although I don’t know her specific situation, maybe she needs the gas money, I can understand that. It seems to me your family is not necessarily acknowledging all that you do. I don’t know your exact situation, but having a parent in the house who needs help is not easy.

Are you using hydrcolloid, or is it just ointment and gauze?

Lonelyheart807's avatar

Thanks, @janbb…and pantyhose! I didn’t know anyone wore them any more. Yes, I can do stuff like that too, just not more intimate care.

Inspired_2write's avatar

”.... I am trying to come up with different options, but my mom is so stubborn and doesn’t like to change how she does stuff”
At this juncture she is in no way able to make good decisions.
Get Hospice care started as this can only get worse and in the end if she passes because of it YOU will be responsible in a Court of Law for Not getting better care or placeing her into a home for care.
On another note:
Are you her legal Guardian?

Lonelyheart807's avatar

@Inspired_2write I don’t have medical power of attourney, so I’m not sure that would be the case. And, hospice? My mom is not dying. She hopefully has at least a few more good years of life in her. Her memory is not great, but she doesn’t have dementia, etc. So, legally she can still make her own decisions, and I’m not sure why I would be liable.

And I can’t force her to spend her money. I have next to nothing myself, and my income places me at the poverty level, to the point that if someone sued me, they wouldn’t legally be able to even garnish my wages.

si3tech's avatar

Former nurse here. Bathroom stuff is pretty much straight forward. You do what
needs to be done while doing your best not to embarrass the person.

Inspired_2write's avatar

@Lonelyheart807
Trust me YOU are responsible and the only one looking after her so any and all decisions on your part will be held up to scrutiny in a Court of Law.
Protect her and yourself by doing the responsible thing since she is NOT able too , even though she thinks that she is.
Putting her in a air mattress and all the things that you mention ( not rotating her in bed, special care for bed sores and prevention…this is not adequate and out of you league

ITS YOUR responsibility to get her professional care.
Find a better place that can look after her daily needs and place her in Professional hands before its too late.
She deserves better care, her own bed and so on.

Lonelyheart807's avatar

@Inspired_2write I’m lost then, according to that article (and thanks for the link). I have no money for an attourney. I am stuck in a thankless job that I continue to do out of love for my mom.

She has a bed…she won’t sleep on it. Please stop coming off as judgemental, like I am depriving her of a bed or something. I am wracking my brain to try to come up with solutions, but what am I supposed to do? Just let my siblings abandon her to some nursing home where she can wither away like my dad did?

Rest assured, they won’t spend one penny on her care, except to hire a lawyer to make sure their end of the inheritance is coming to them.

I am trying my best to do what is right, but as I’m going to be homeless at some point probably, if they have anything to do with it, I guess I’ll go to jail for trying to do right by my mom.

Inspired_2write's avatar

I trust that there is senior care (funding) in your country which she can obtain by applying.

Check into it finances can be arranged and inmost cases from her own Government Benefits that cover all or most.
One person cannot possibly handle all that has to be started, get expert help to assist you in making choices.
Its too much for you and or one person so get their help. Call them ( counsellor that specializes in senior care.)
I am sorry but I had gone though similar situation with my late mothers care as my older sister botched that up and it was 12 years in the Courts .
She passed away in the night in a nursing home, but for all those years her needs were met .Anniversary of her passing was this January .

Sorry but his situation had hit a nerve and I most likely projected that onto you, my apologies for coming off as such but was trying to get you to understand that you need more help and to get it now to have others assist you , so that you are not alone in handling this situation.

And it seems that you are the only person that she can rely on. You are her hero at the moment.

Lonelyheart807's avatar

@si3tech like so many, you assume everyone is capable of doing what you do. Please stop.

Lonelyheart807's avatar

@Inspired_2write I’m so sorry. My mom is still capable of making decisions, however, and she wants to stay in her home as long as is possible. We have Medicaid, but that doesn’t cover in-home care, so she would lose her house, her savings, everything, and have about $80.00 to spend a month.

I would help her if I could, but I only make about $15000 a year and have health issues that make it hard for me to find a full-time job. My sister alone makes about ten times that, but doesn’t want to chip in at all to respect her mom’s wishes. And I’m not saying she is in anyway obligated to, I’m just saying that if I was in her shoes, I would gladly help out with expenses.

JLeslie's avatar

@Lonelyheart807 Why won’t Medicaid cover her home care for a wound? That doesn’t sound right. I know it varies by state.

Lonelyheart807's avatar

@JLeslie we have Medicare and Medicaid. Medicaid doesn’t cover home care at all. Medicare will cover a nurse coming out twice a week, but that’s it, hence the problem.

JLeslie's avatar

@Lonelyheart807 We received an aide daily for my aunt through Medicaid, but you need the nurse to tend to a wound.

It seems to me if she needs more frequent dressing changes it should be covered, the doctor needs to say the patient needs more care and the location makes it unable for the patient to care for herself.

Are they using hydrocolloid (might be called DuoDerm) or just ointment and gauze? Hydrocolloid shouldn’t need daily changes once it starts to heal. There is another product also, I can find out, but it doesn’t matter, because I am not a doctor and I am not recommending you change on our own what she is doing for the wound, it might be infected and need antibiotic cream, I am not assuming anything, but I will tell you that a lot of doctors don’t prescribe the best methods for wound care.

Side note: Here is some info about how we got an aide through Medcaid if you need it for the future. We set up some sort of account that we had to pay into, a pooled trust, and then she received Medicaid. This was in NY. Here is the company we used: https://www.nysarctrustservices.org/about/ It is some sort of loophole that probably most people don’t know about. I don’t know if you have it in your state, I don’t know if it can help for care like 2 weeks of wound care, but it might be something you want to look into for the future.

chyna's avatar

@inspiredtowrite Stop bullying! She’s doing the best she can. And no, if her mom is not actively dying, she cannot have hospice come in.

Lonelyheart807's avatar

@JLeslie thanks for the link. They are not requiring a nurse, just someone who can make sure the wound is clean, apply whatever ointment is being used, and rebandage everything. I talked to the in-home nurse, as my mom is not home quite yet. (They were ready to discarge her at the hospital, but home services weren’t set up yet, so she is currently in rehab.)

I’ll look into things, but there’s no money for legal aid, and we’re in Maryland, so I don’t know where we stand with that.

JLeslie's avatar

@Lonelyheart807 Oh, I didn’t understand all of the details. I can ask a friend about MD, I don’t live there now. I’m from MD. I’m not sure if she will know the intricacies of home care there. If I find out anything helpful I will convey it to you. My parents might know also, they are still there.

KNOWITALL's avatar

It makes me uncomfortable too, not grossed out but an emotional reaction to her needing me in that aspect. I push thru it when I can and moms besty helps too.
Don’t beat yourself up and tell your sibs to help or stfu. Good luck.

Lonelyheart807's avatar

@KNOWITALL I would like to on that last bit of advice, LOL! I’m trying my best to stay civil with them, but the truth is (my brother, especially), they are a bunch of bullies. I love them all, nevertheless, but at some point after my mom is gone, I’m probably going to have to walk away from their toxicity.

Lonelyheart807's avatar

@JLeslie no worries! Now my mom is saying she might just stay in rehab until the wound is healed (or at least as long as her insurance will allow.) But this whole episode has been truly eye-opening as far as seeing what my family is like.

JLeslie's avatar

Ok, that’s good! Stressful times.

si3tech's avatar

@Lonelyheart807 I don’t assume everybody can do those things.
With training and caring/attitude many can. I tried to put myself in their
position and give care accordingly. Not everyone can do this. And
there is certainly Nothing Wrong with those who either can’t or are otherwise
unwilling to do this.

si3tech's avatar

@Lonelyheart807 If you “just can’t do it” for whatever reason, pull up
your socks and go to plan B. No guilt or shame there at all. God Bless.

smudges's avatar

I’m sorry, I don’t have any advice. I just wanted you to know I feel for you. You’re in such a difficult situation. My heart hurts for you. {{hugs}}

Lonelyheart807's avatar

Thanks, @smudges and @si3tech ! I wish it was something I could just learn to overcome.

smudges's avatar

Don’t beat yourself up over it, ok? No guilt allowed. Many, many people would have, and do have similar issues. It’s just not easy given how we are raised in America, where even a glimpse of a nipple makes headlines and provokes gasps and childish titters (no pun intended).

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Lonelyheart807 I don’t have siblings (of my mothers), so when mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer it was extremely eye-opening as far as family, too.

I literally was going after work or during sometimes to change bed sheets, take out trash, registering the car, paying bills, etc .. and help with meds during radiation by myself or with my husband. Her siblings call and say lovely things to her, and usually send money.

So really you should stand up for yourself and get a weekend off, and your siblings should make sure you get that break. If they can’t, perhaps one of your good friends could help for you to have an outing. I feel for you.

jca2's avatar

I used to work in the local government department that deals with people receiving home care through Medicaid. I used to go out in the field with the Public Health Nurse and assess people to determine how much time they’d get for a personal care aide. A Personal Care Aide is different from a Home Health Aide in that a PC doesn’t deal with anything medical, whereas a Home Health Aide can. The PC Aide can help with meals, light housekeeping, and for the patient, can help with bathing, bathroom, diapers, feeding, dressing them or helping them to put their clothes on.

Here in NY, there are legal ways to hide your money (all legal) to keep it out of the hands of nursing homes, so the seniors get Medicaid and help at home. I used to visit mansions, absolutely gorgeous mansions, with the patient having Medicaid and here I was, working for the government, assessing them for hours.

Since your mom is currently in a rehab, you’re in a good spot because you can get the social worker at the rehab to advocate for you to get services at home. That’s the job of the social worker. You can insist that it’s more than you can handle on your own since you have health problems of your own, and tell her to explore all options between Medicaid and Medicare. Even if it’s a nurse coming two times a week, that’s better than nothing. Even if a personal care aide comes a few times a week or a few hours a day, that’s a help to you and will give you a break.

You may find documents on your state or county Department of Social Services website that can explain more about your options.

As for your family, there should be a family meeting or bunch of family meetings where this is discussed and the other siblings chip in. What I find happens in times like this is that everybody starts pointing fingers at each other. “Well, I work full time and he doesn’t so he should do more.” “Well I have a long commute and she doesn’t so she should do more.” “Well, she lives there for free so she should do more.” “He got the family china and silverware so I’m not doing it, he can do it.” They may feel that since you live there, you are like live in help but you need to stick up for yourself and say you need help. This is where the social worker at the rehab can help, because she may find you the help you need.

I understand about not being able to stomach bathroom issues. I never had to deal with the bathroom issues of an adult, only a baby, and babies don’t go in as large a quantity as an adult. What you can try if you need to is put on a mask which will help with the smell and put on gloves. If you don’t have gloves, you can use plastic baggies on your hands. If your mom is still lucid she should be able to help with bathroom stuff. This all might be for naught if the rehab social worker can get you the help you need.

Lonelyheart807's avatar

@jca2 you nailed it right on the head! They think I am my mom’s personal slave because I live there and my mom doesn’t ask for any rent money. One of them lives about 20 minutes away but works something like 80 hours a week with her job. The second sister has a family that she claims keeps her busy, but her three kids are all about 19 or 20 years old. The third sibling, my brother lives further away and claims he’s busy with his work, but he and his wife don’t even offer to make phone calls when that’s part of what we need to do.

By the way, my mom has plenty of money so it doesn’t need me to pay her rent and when she asked me to come live with her because my dad had gone into long-term care, she specifically said that I didn’t need to pay rent. She knows I have a health issues and can only work part-time. To me, it’s none of my siblings’ business whatever the arrangement between my mom and I is. The funny thing is she also gives my one sister, the one with the three kids that are in their late teens, $200 every other week and that’s been going on for I don’t know how many years. and yet that same sister charges her every time she takes her grocery shopping, every time they come over and mow the lawn. I don’t know why the others don’t have a problem with that but have a problem with me.

jca2's avatar

@Lonelyheart807: I think for the adult children to charge their mother to take her grocery shopping or mow her lawn is terrible.

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