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Foley Catheters and Dementia

Chaucer 1931

Registered User
Mar 30, 2014
Hello all,I haven't posted on TP for a while but I have read and searched for posts that relate to the predicament my mum and me as live in carer are dealing with.
My mum is 84,mixed vascular dementia and is half blind,deaf,mobility not too good,prone to falls as balance issues,and has had a Foley catheter for about 3 yrs now.im used to (if you ever can get used to the aftermath)of her getting up and wandering out of bed to the bathroom in the night,consequently dragging a night drainage bag on the floor as she forgets that is attached,this the tubing gets trapped under doors etc,resulting in pulling the catheter out of mum and the contents of the bag everywhere. She also tried to rip the catheter off a few times during the day,and has an absolute fixation with going to empty her bladder and bowels,even though she has become bowel incontinent too-it is such a horrible situation to live with let alone ,deal with the consequences!. I have tried many distractions,even a 'onesie' as that would deter her,tried feeding the catheter down the leg of her pants and strapping it behind her leg,it doesn't work at all. Doctors did prescribe Zopliclon to be used in times of agitation,but they do not work at all,just make her drowsy and she's unsafe as it doesn't stop her fixation for getting to the toilet or sometimes heading for the front door to look for whatever she is hallucinating about at the time.

She has frequent utis,part and parcel of catheter and dementia,she has just come out of Hosp for a severe UTI,urosepsis,and chronic retention.
I asked the doctors what the consequences of mum not having a catheter and they said,she would end up with renal failure eventually or on dialysis as the back pressure of the urine in a full bladder going back into the kidneys. They'd also said my mum is damaging her uretha so frequently by pulling the catheter out that they may not be able to insert in the future if she carries on the way she is... What quality of life is this for her,!?? The only thing I have found as a possible solution is maybe a depravation of her liberty from the point of view of a health professional or someone who had never had to care for a loved one with dementia,and that is restraint mitts-a bit like big oven gloves which prevent the wearer fiddling or pulling at things-iv lines,catheter tubes etc.
I have some kiln gloves that remind me a little of them,or oven gloves with a Velcro strap across the cuff to prevent removal.. It's either this or let my mum die from renal failure as it's distressing my mum so much. I'd appreciate all your thoughts and opinions or advice,I'm at breaking point now. X

Sue J

Registered User
Dec 9, 2009
Hi Chaucer

Sorry to read of your poor Mum's predicament:(

Have you heard of the flip Flo? This may not solve her irritation or a attempt to remove and would have to be manually emptied at regular intervals but wonder if she would find it less irritating than having a heavy urine bag at her side. I realize this may not be a solution but wanted to mention it in case it may help. Hope you find a solution
Best Wishes


Chaucer 1931

Registered User
Mar 30, 2014
Hi Sue,

Thanks so much for the helpful reply,yes I did try mum with this,she pulled the tube out,even a tiny thing like that seems to bother her-it did help in the daytime-at night,mum pulled it out even though it was under her 'onesie' that she seems to dispose also. It is just so so hard to deal with,but thanks for replying,

Jane xx

Lilac Blossom

Registered User
Oct 6, 2014
Ah Chaucer - I recognise so much of what you describe - lots of similarities. I look after hubby who has vascular dementia. Due to prostate problems he has had a catheter for two years and boy I really do dread the consequences you describe which have become all to familiar. I take care of all aspects of catheter and try prevent him causing problems but I don't think I shall ever get really comfortable with catheter as it lends itself to so many nasty problems for us to clean up, not to mention the UTIs! It's a real nightmare if hubby needs to get to toilet in a hurry at night for bowel activity - quite a procession as I try to get him to go as fast as possible but he is not that mobile - so he shuffles along with zimmer with me just behind him urging him on while I carry the night bad on stand, praying that this time we will get there before the action happens.

As hubby's catheter is the only type I have seen, I am not knowledgeable about women's catheters. Not sure but it may be easier to pull out women's as it would be shorter I think.

Have you requested advice from District/Community Nurses. They come in to replace hubby's catheter once every three months and can give helpful advice.

I wish I could be more helpful xx

Chaucer 1931

Registered User
Mar 30, 2014
Hi Lilac Blossom,

Yes,I can empathise with you,it is an additional stress we have to deal with,second guessing our loved ones to prevent the resulting consequences.. I think it's a little more traumatic for men-inserting and removing the catheters,but a necessary part of staying well.
It takes us some getting used to,I deal with daily care and we have a district nurse come to change the catheter around every 3 months too,she knows how much my mum dislikes wearing one,but it takes some persuasion now to get her to cooperate.. Even having a routine blood pressure check,sends my mum into a tantrum,I try to distract as best as I can,so the nurses can do their job but it is very hard work now.
I feel sad to be thinking that I wish my mums condition was more progressed so she wouldn't be so outwardly distressed by it and the wandering and the removal attempts would stop,but that means a little more of her will be gone. Very sad indeed,but trying to keep my sorrow hid along with the frustration of it all,Thank you for replying Lilac Blossom,i know we are not alone in this. xx

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