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Vascular dementia - toileting problems


New member
Apr 18, 2019
Hi. My mum has vascular dementia, we got the diagnosis 3 years ago. Fortunately, my husband and family, especially my daughter, have fully supported me in keeping mum with us at home. My daughter is her full time carer during the day when I am working.
We are having issues with mum now over using the toilet and emptying her bowel. She just doesn't want to do it. It makes her very confused and distressed. She recognises she needs one and we take her, helping with undressing and helping her to recognise the toilet itself. But she just panics when nature starts to happen. I don't think she likes the feeling and she gets so distressed its heart breaking. She often says you do it for me. Help me. We try to talk her through it, but she tries to stand or grab at things. The nurse has said that she should go on laxatives but won't that just make her mess herself? She does on occasion now and that makes her cry too. Just don't know what to do for the best. We want her to be at home for as long as possible.


New member
Feb 1, 2019
Hello, this must be so distressing for you all. My advise would be to ask the nurse for Lactulose - this is a stool softener rather than a laxative so will make the motions easier to pass. If your mum has discomfort, which is the cause of her distress, this could help. Good luck.


Volunteer Moderator
Dec 15, 2012
hello @Allforyou
and a warm welcome to this supportive community
this isn't an unfamiliar situation, and something such as lactulose may help, simply by making it easier 'to go' so your mum feels less distress
maybe have a chat with the continence nurse at her GP surgery
and these pages of the main AS site may have something useful to you
might it help to distract your mum when she is sitting on the toilet, to take the focus off what her body is or isn't doing eg play some music, actually sing along, 'happen' to find a smelly soap or perfume or handcream and test it out, have a laugh over some daft video you find on your tablet ...

Toony Oony

Registered User
Jun 21, 2016
Hello @Allforyou and welcome ...

My Mum also has Vascular Dementia and toileting has been and still is the most distressing thing for her. Incontinence now prevails as the dementia has advanced, and although Mum has difficulty with control now, she still hates that she needs help and protection. I feel for your Mum and your family.

I agree, ask for the lactulose it will help hugely and should not cause diarrhoea. Mum has been on a regular dose for years. Sometimes when PWD's eating is affected and their appetite reduces, it also helps to 'ease things' when the diet is not balanced or sufficient.

The other day I witnessed my Mum with constipation and it was the saddest, most awful thing. She was asking for scissors, a pokey stick to assist etc and she seemed in so much pain and distress. I thought she would burst something with all the straining and contortions. The care home staff and I tried to reassure but Mum could not understand. A quick dose and a cup of tea and she seemed more comfortable.

Perhaps as Shedrech suggested, you could divert Mum when she is on the loo? I remember having to think up diversions when my daughter was potty training many many years ago. I find that in so many ways I am reverting to ploys I used with with a toddler to help Mum now :(.

Hope you find a solution