How do I talk to my father about the mess he makes in the bathroom when he urinates?

4 answers | Last updated: Dec 01, 2016
Sue asked...

I am a caregiver to my father. He is still able to get around good but can no longer drive. I fix his meals, keep his house clean, laundry, etc. and take him for a drive several days a week. One of the frustrating things I have to deal with is cleaning up after him when he goes to the bathroom to urinate. He often does not hit the toilet. I have not talked with him about it but it is getting to be a problem. It is hard for a daughter to discuss such matters with her father. Any advise would be very much appreciated.


Expert Answers

This is a frustrating problem, and one that's understandably difficult for a daughter to talk about with her dad. First of all, I'd talk to your father's doctor about the situation, and consider a check-up. There could be medical reasons your dad is missing the toilet more, such as vision problems; stiff finger joints or arthritis; balance problems, or dementia. It's important to get a health professional's assessment to find the best solution. He may need glasses or stronger glasses, medicine for arthritis, or a standing/walking aide like a walker. It may be time for him to start sitting on the toilet to urinate. Ask your dad's doctor to initiate the discussion with him. This way, your dad will be less surprised if you bring it up.

When you do talk to your dad, try to be direct and matter of fact. Chances are he's feeling as uncomfortable as you are. Try not to blame him, as it's likely his messiness isn't deliberate. This will require patience, as you're the one having to clean up the mess. Try to look at it in the same vein as talking to your parent about messy eating or dressing, similar body care issues affected by aging. It's hard not to sound patronizing when dealing with these things, but keeping the conversation simple and straightforward helps. State the problem; the possible causes (or known cause if this has been determined by a doctor); and the suggested solutions.

Finally, can you ask your dad to help with the clean-up after he uses the bathroom? Maybe lay out a pile of towels near the toilet. This might make him feel better, too. And, if you're still uncomfortable with all of this, is there a male friend or family member who can talk to your dad?

Good luck. You're not alone with this concern.


Community Answers

Dbfun1 answered...

BACK TO MY OT EXPERIENCE----HAVE YOU TRIED TO HAVE HIM USE A URINAL...IN MY EXPERIENCE MOST MEN DONT SEEM TO HAVE AN ISSUE IN USING ONE..HOPE THIS HELPS..GOOD LUCK


Senior remodeler d. answered...

You might also want to consider and elongated toilet,(easier to hit the mark) and look at the wall mount toilets(easier to clean around). I think most guys, of any age, would prefer to have access to a urinal-a lot of us, at whatever age, are not good marksmen. D.


A fellow caregiver answered...

This was a big problem for my Dad. When he was in hospital (after suffering a second stroke) he got accustomed to using a portable urinal jug that he can manage with one hand. It is plastic, has a large opening about 3.5" across, a handle that he can easily manage and a lid that can be snapped on if needed. The benefit is that he can hold it close to his groin when he has to urinate and does not have to handle his penis once he has it exposed from his trouser. Since his left hand does not work so well anymore the issue of this two handed chore and the need for good aim has been eliminated. Now its easy for him to go and not make a mess. When finished he simply dumps the jug in the toilet. He should rinse it right away but we can't have everything, can we? :)

He has mobility issues as well and at night he has another "jug" that he keeps next to his bed so that if he needs to go urgently he can use the "jug" and not struggle to get to the bathroom in time. It sounds a bit crude but this was a common practice before the advent of indoor plumbing and is used commonly by long haul truckers since the timing between bathroom stops and the need to use one don't always coincide. These "jugs" are inexpensive ($5 - $10), can be cleaned and are readily available at pharmacies and shops that sell home care supplies. Hope that helps.