Alzheimer`s Disease/Holding urine


My mom is in advanced dementia and on Sunday night she was fine, on Monday she was listless, fearful, and screaming whenever we touched her. I asked if she was in pain, but the screaming appeared to be more of fear than pain. We took her to the ER where they cathed her and got 800 cc's of urine out, so she hadn't gone all day. She is admitted to the hospital and there they foley cathed her to make sure she goes. So far not looking like an infection, could this be that her mind has stopped telling her she needs to go? I am assuming they will take the cath out at some point to see if she then goes on her own. Also did a cat scan if head and bladder scan both fine. Any suggestions what else should be done? And any suggestions as to how to convince her that she can just go because she is cathed, can't get that through to her no matter what I said. I will tell you that we started putting her in depends the week before because of accidents, she hates them because of the bulk, but can't find any that fit her well- weighs 80 lbs. - even tried kids, anyway could that have caused her to hold her urine?

Thanks, Lisa

Hello Lisa:
This is a tough one!  I'm sorry your Mom and your family are having to go through this! I would just be guessing on this because when the brain is affected by dementia, it pretty much becomes a guessing game as to what will work for any therapy.  
I'm glad to hear you took her to the ER and I'm sure she was screaming because of both pain and fear of the unknown source.  It's hard to believe there is NOT an infection there but I'm glad they checked with scans as well.  I suppose she could unconsciously have been holding her urine and maybe caused some spasms that prevented her from going--possibly because of the discomfort from the briefs.  It doesn't seem likely, but you never know.
If her dementia is "advanced" then I would guess she would become accustomed to the briefs in a relatively short period of time.  I understand about the bulk issue, and it was a good move to try the children's sizes.  I would go with whatever one is least bulky for her and is very soft as well.  I'm thinking she must have some type of brief of for incontinence, so you just have to persevere and try to find the most comfortable one.  
You will likely have to continually tell her "It's okay Mom, I know it feels like you have to go but it's just a bad irritation there, just try to relax--take a deep breath."  Maybe run the faucet or have her hold a wet washcloth in order to stimulate her to urinate at that time.  I would then try to distract her mind with some item or activity.  It would be good to have that Foley removed as soon as possible and then keep her on a toileting regimen in order to greatly reduce the incidence of incontinence.  
I'm sorry I can't come up with any other suggestions for you and I wish you much luck as you continue to advocate for your Mother.  Cindy  

Alzheimer`s Disease

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Cindy Keith, RN, BS, Certified Dementia Practitioner


As a nurse and dementia consultant, I can answer most questions on all types of dementia. If I cannot answer your question, I will attempt to find someone who can. My passion is to help caregivers of people with dementia, which in turn helps all those wonderful elders with dementia live better lives. When caregivers are better educated, they are able to better care for themselves and their loved ones, so education is key to decreased stress levels and healthier, happier families.


I have worked as a nurse in various disciplines of nursing for over 20 years, most of which was with the elderly. I was a health care coordinator in a dementia dedicated assisted living facility for 4 years before I started my own business (M.I.N.D. in Memory Care) as a dementia consultant six years ago. As a dementia consultant, I help families nationwide through phone conference calls as they struggle to care for their loved ones with dementia.

Alzheimer's Foundation of America Geriatric Interest Network Sigma Theta Tau International

Published "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem - Caregiver Survival Manual For Living With A Person With Dementia" which is a collection of stories about people with dementia I have known, loved and worked with. Every story has a lesson to teach and this book gently teaches family caregivers lessons about how to better care for their loved one, as well as themselves during their caregiving journey. Published "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem In Eldercare Facilities: The Master Key For Dementia Training" Created "Bringing Nurturing To Memory Care" staff dementia training video Created Ebook: "Hair Stylist's Helpful Tips For Working With People With Alzheimer's & Other Dementias"

Registered Nurse with Bachelor's degree in Nursing; Certified Dementia Practitioner; Author of 2 books and an ebook

Awards and Honors
Sigma Theta Tau National Honor Society of Nursing

©2017 All rights reserved.