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Commode Problems


Registered User
Sep 9, 2015
Battle. East Sussex
my mother in law has dementia and is housebound. We hoist her with a ceiling hoist from bed to chair. For her number 2 she would like to be on the commode. I really do understand that, I would want the same if it was me. I am ready to do this for her whenever needed.
But this topic has become an issue between us. On a bad day I would say it is a power play.
She would never ask this service from any of the carers who come here three times a day to change her pads. It seems in her mind I am responsible for poo.
Her daughter stayed with us for the last two month and had taken over all her care. The daughter would never put her on the commode because it involved 4 transfers for one time commode. It is hard work and she is not sitting very well on it, she needs to remain in the hoist slings, to make sure she does not slide off the commode. The daughter expected her to go in the pads, or in the bed laying on the side. If I would demand this from my mother-in-law she would give me a hard time.
So the daughter has left and my mother-in-law asked me 3 times in one hour for commode. Three times unsuccessful. Me and the hoist batteries were exhausted without any good outcome.
Whenever I change her pads at lunch time I offer her commode, she always declines (a few times I even put her on anyway), and then when the food is in front of her and everything is nice and tidy, she smiles at me and demands the commode. I understand that it can happen, that you do not need to go when you are asked and then 5 minutes later you need to go. This can happen, but not every day.
So I am conflicted. Her daughter is from Pakistan, I am from Germany. It generally feels like "them (my mother-in-laws family)" and "me (alone)". She usually finds things the way I do them very amusing. So maybe I am stupid for doing the care the way I am doing it.
Seems she is getting through it with less work.
So now what to do? Play the game and do what ever Mother-in-law asks whenever she asks it?
Should I be strict and say it is enough, unreasonable? Live the guilt the I am responsible for an vulnerable adult in her last few years of life and refusing her such a vital service?
Where is the middle way in this.
I could repeat the same story about more topics, like pain killers (she demands unreasonable amounts, I cannot give her overdose just to be nice) and many other topics.
Where is the middle way?
Does any one has an idea how to cope with this?
Regina64 Member
Joined: Thu May 30, 2013 10:27 pmLocation: East Sussex


Registered User
Dec 20, 2009
Wembley, Middlesex
Hi Regina,

I understand what you are going through but I am afraid there is no easy answer.

My late mum would not go to the commode with the carers, and expected me to help her each time. Also, I agree with you for number 2s I would want to be on the commode as well.

But if my late mum got on really well with a carer she would usually ask them for help, and so I wonder whether this may help you. Is there any chance the carers can put her on the commode each time they come, as this may eventually help you.

Finally, one lesson I learnt is it was pointless trying to make sense of my mum's behaviour (including the times when she did or did not want to go on the commode). It is just one example of how cruel dementia is.
Hope this helps,



Registered User
Aug 19, 2015
Adelaide South Australia
I just want to say Regina that you have my unending admiration for doing this for your mother in law. I would find it difficult to do for my mother but mother in law? - impossible I'm afraid. I used to tell my husband when his mother was alive he owed his sister a MASSIVE debt for taking on the care of his mum.

It's usually a tricky relationship for women and their m in laws. I feel I have bent over backwards to be kind and loving towards my own daughter in law. I genuinely like her but I don't think the feeling is mutual. She seems to resent the fact that we have a familial claim to our son and want to still be a part of his life.

Anywho, I feel your pain and think that there probably is some power play going on. I also think you are displaying enormous compassion for her, more than her daughter was prepared to offer. Do what you can re the commode but not to the point where you have to run yourself ragged.