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I need to go to the bathroom!

October 20, 2014
by Kathleen Mears
| Reprints

When I started first grade, I felt small when I had to raise my hand to get permission to go to the bathroom. It caused several weeks of major trauma to my psyche and stomach. Eventually, however, I got used to it. But remembering that time gives me pause. Nursing homes are much the same. I have to put on my call light or ask an aide to help me if I have to go to the bathroom. Telling an aide that I need to go is embarrassing, but I put on my best face and try to ignore it.

After my Valium dosage was lowered this past June, I needed to go to the bathroom more often. Every day I had the urge to go during the busy after lunch time. I thanked the aides greatly for assisting me. Even though I only went to the bathroom one more time a day, I felt like a burden.

For a while none of the aides said anything about my extra toilet run. But after three months, they started to make comments. I realize it was easier setting me up at my desktop computer after lunch without a potty break. But I felt more comfortable visiting the bathroom before I settled in at the computer.

Some of the aides may have felt I was playing a game with them. Some residents do things to get attention. Those who normally require little assistance, sometimes make requests of the aides that seem frivolous. Then, the aides look at each other and acknowledge they are being played by a resident.

I am still continent, which is a good thing. I also know there will never be enough aides to meet the needs of the residents. Frequent toileting is necessary to help me remain continent with fewer episodes of urinary tract infections.

I have observed residents who involuntarily or voluntarily experienced incontinence. Then, the aides have to persuade, even able-bodied residents, they need to clean themselves up and change their clothing.

Since continence is the desired status, I think residents should be able to go to the bathroom whenever they need to, if humanly possible. Everyone has to relieve themselves—that is the way our bodies work. I am sure those involved in nursing home care know bowel and bladder management takes time and patience.


Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...