How do we ask Dad to be more careful in the bathroom due to his bladder cancer chemotherapy?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father is going through chemotherapy and radiation for bladder cancer. He has his room right across from the bathroom plus he also has a portable urinal that he keeps in his room. Our son and daughter in law and grandson are also staying with us temporarily, and they are in the process of potty training their son. Since my father is being treated for bladder cancer and the chemo is concentrated into his urine I have asked him to be extra careful when urinating or disposing of the fluid in the urinal as it can be absorbed by the rest of us having to use the same bathroom. Since I have talked to him it appears he has gotten worse, there is urine on the seat on the bowl and droplets all over the floor. What can I do to tactfully tell him again that he is endangering his great grandson with his carelessness?

Expert Answers

Bonnie Bajorek Daneker is author and creator of the The Compassionate Caregiver's Series, which includes "The Compassionate Caregiver's Guide to Caring for Someone with Cancer," "The Journey of Grief," "Handbook on Hospice and Palliative Care," and other titles on cancer diagnosis and end of life. She speaks regularly at cancer research and support functions, including PANCAN and Cancer Survivor's Network. She is a former member of the Executive Committee of the CSN at St. Joseph's Hospital of Atlanta and the Georgia Chapter of the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

You've made an important observation about safety here. Obviously, you want to protect your family, especially your grandson, and I commend you for wanting to impact your father's behavior.

There are a few things going on with your father, though, that may make your efforts to negotiate with him not as fruitful as you would like. First, remember that each day the chemo affects him more, not just in strength and muscle control, but also in memory and cognitive thinking. So he may have trouble controlling himself (i.e. dripping), and he may not remember that he's supposed to try (i.e. clean up the seat). Second, his main goal is to maintain some dignity while letting that fluid out of his system. And third, at his age stubborness may encourage him to do things as he likes and as he is able.

All that said, your problem will likely not be solved by talking to him. Is it possible for you to create a type of bathroom in his room, that is purchase a small portable toilet (like a chair with a holding container, available at most drugstores) and erect a drape or screen of some type for his privacy? (You would also need to a way to sanitize his hands, like Klorox wipes.)

If it is, you could persuade him to only use that until the chemo is out of his system. Only the person cleaning the toilet would be exposed, provided you keep others out of his room. If it isn't, you will have to take on the responsibility of regularly cleaning the bathroom, bedroom and hallway with a bleach-based product. This could be dangerous to your grandson as well, so be sure to consider his presence around your cleaning schedule. Make sure you keep yourself safe as well.

Community Answers

Mnmpup2 answered...

Hi - I certainly can understand where you are coming from ... but please ... if you never listened to anything before please listen to this. I have bladder cancer. I am fine. Mine is stage one. My older brother "HAD" bladder cancer. His was stage four when diagonosed. We buried my brother January 13, 2010. I wish that he were here to mess up the bathroom and/or any other room in the house. He had the bag attached ... which leaked all over ... he didn't want that. We didn't want that - but I rather he was still with us ... I would be more than happy to clean it up (with a smile on my face). What HE went through for over two years was in-human. PLEASE overlook the SMALL stuff that can be fixed and go on loving and living. DON'T waste your time on worrying about "cleaning up".

GOD BLESS! I Love You and Care For You. MnMpup2