Has problems finding or using the bathroom

  All Alzheimer's Symptoms

When it happens

Beginning in moderate-stage dementia

Why it happens

Memory problems can be part of the problem; in an unfamiliar setting (and eventually, even in a familiar one), the person may not remember where the bathroom is located, or which door leads to it. Accidents may also result from the person not being able to move quickly enough to the bathroom or find it fast enough. Or the brain may not receive signals from the body about needing to "go."

What you can do

  • Follow a toileting schedule (such as every hour or two), so the person never has an urgent need.

  • Try a sign on the door: BATHROOM.

  • At night, illuminate the pathway to the bathroom with lights or tape that glows in the dark.

  • Paint bathroom walls a contrasting color to the commode, so it stands out (e.g. dark walls, white toilet).

  • Make sure complicated belt buckles and tight clothing aren't slowing the person down. Pull-down sweatpants or elastic-waist pants are easier.

  • Minimize evening cola, coffee, and tea.

  • If persistent accidents are a problem, get medical advice. There may be a treatable health problem (such as with the prostate or a bladder infection) causing incontinence.