Bedside Assistance: How to Help Your Loved One Use a Bedpan

Maintaining dignity while addressing
personal care needs is paramount
It can be extremely difficult to be a caregiver, and help your bedridden parent, or other elderly relative, with their most personal needs. Part of bedside assistance is helping your loved one use a bedpan or other assistive device when they can no longer leave their bed. There are steps that you can take that will make this process a little easier for both you, and the person you are caring for.

It is important to understand that part of the transition from this life to the next is a decreasing focus on the concerns of this world. All terminally ill persons will eventually lose control of their bladder, (either at the actual point of death or before), because of disease or loss of consciousness. If your loved one is bedridden while recovering from surgery or illness, this can be devastating. This can be extremely depressing, and humiliating to your loved one, so maintaining privacy for your loved one is extremely important when providing intimate care. If your loved one will eventually regain their mobility, it is important to reassure them that you are only there to help.

When assisting your loved one with a bedpan, or urinal it is important to help them only to the degree that they desire. If your loved one feels that they can use the items themselves, then placing the bedpan or urinal with reach, and simply withdrawing for privacy is the best step. If your loved one needs more hands on care then experienced caregivers recommend only exposing as little of the body (for dignity), as possible. Looking away, while assuring your loved one you are only there to help can also be helpful as well.

Before a patient becomes totally incontinent, a bedpan, or a urinal may be placed for use. It is important to realize that making sure the bedpan or urinal is available on a regular basis is very effective in maintaining continence, when your loved one is still conscious and able to void at will. Experts recommend that you should offer the bedpan or urinal regularly, so that he or she does not need to ask you for it in front of others. In addition, telling visitors that you need a little privacy for a few moments is perfectly acceptable and preferable to letting your loved one be incontinent because a bedpan, or urinal, was not available soon enough to be used. As the caregiver, it is ok for you to take charge and maintain your loved one's privacy as needed.

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Caregivers should realize that while bowel incontinence may be a result of loss of consciousness, or disease, it can also be a result of loose bowel movements or diarrhea which can be caused by side-effects from medications, or the disease itself. It is crucial to make sure the RN case manager is closely monitoring all medications being given to make sure they are properly adjusted. In some cases, laxatives can be overused and must be closely evaluated. In addition, offering the bedpan on a regular basis can help avoid bowel incontinence if your loved one is able to control this function at this time.

Caregivers should also understand that incontinent pads, and briefs, will need to be placed to prevent soiling of the bed, and to help keep the patient clean and dry. After removing any bowel movement with toilet paper, a wet soft cloth or disposable wet wipe, should be used to remove any remaining soiling and to assure complete cleanliness.

The products and items that you need to help your loved one are offered at They offer a wide variety of urinals, and bedpans, and assorted self cleaning cloths, to help assist in the most intimate ways. You can select the products that will help you care for your loved one and assist in bedside care.

About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visit to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.


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