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Public restroom predicament-Need help


Melinda S in TX
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My dh, Steven, has brain cancer.  He is able to move around with help, but he has little to no control of the left side of his body.  The question is what do I do in public bathrooms?  Steven can't walk without help, get down and up off the toilet, pull up or down his pants, or wash and dry his hands.  If he has to go to the restroom, I have to take him and help.  We try to avoid public bathrooms at all costs, but that isn't always possible.  Do we go in the men's bathroom or the women's.  If it were a small one stall bathroom, I would just pick one and take him, but what do I do for larger bathrooms like the grocery store, the zoo, churches, etc.  Target has the only family restroom in our area.  Do I sit one of the children outside the door to warn people that someone of the opposite sex is in the bathroom.  What?  Any other problems or solutions I'm not thinking of?

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I would do what Jean suggested. I used to work with the disabled and would have to take men to the men's restroom. I forget what we used to have to call into the restroom before entering, but we'd say something like "woman assistant coming into the restroom." And then we'd go in. We'd try to make sure there was nobody at the urinal first.

 

If you have an older male child that can go in ahead of you to warn people, that would be good.

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I think either would be fine. I like Jean's answer too.

 

I think that if there are others there, you need to announce why you're coming in (either you into the men's room or why you're bringing a man into the ladies' room).

 

:grouphug: :grouphug: :grouphug:

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I worked in group homes for 3 years, this is what we did.

 

 

You go in the bathroom of the person who will be dropping their pants.  Ask for help at customer service to have them clear a bathroom for you, or at minimum they will notify the people in there already, that a customer and caregiver are coming in.  If customer service seems uncertain of what to do, ask for the store manager.  Accommodations are required to be made in an appropriate time frame and with discretion. 

 

Be polite, give the employee grace, but be prepared to be firm.  Don't expect a restroom to be cleared in 1 minute, it may take a few, so allow some time if possible. 

 

 

 

If you can't get a timely response from customer service or a manager, or no one is immediately available. knock on the bathroom  door yourself and ask if anyone is in there.  If no answer, go in and help your husband.  If you hear someone else come in, shout out "there is a female caregiver in here, we will be out in a minute"  If someone wants to come in anyways and you are comfortable with that, then let them. 

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See my guess would probably be to default to the women's restroom if there was no family restroom available simply because they always have stalls (thus privacy.)

 

I absolutely think that if you have kids that could sit outside to warn people, that would be great.

 

I learned something by reading this thread, thank you everybody :)

 

Not sure if this helps, but I know that the Dunkin' Donuts I've been to all have single restrooms (one giant room w/toilet) for men or women.  So you could easily go in one of them and lock the door.  I think Sonic Drive-Ins are the same.

 

I found this threads:

http://sci.rutgers.edu/forum/showthread.php?186980-caretaker-accompanying-in-public-restrooms

 

Search for Family Restrooms http://www.findfamilyrestroom.com/index.html

 

On a side note, I also found that Disney specifically has public restrooms for this situation called "companion assisted restrooms."  http://allears.net/pl/restrooms.htm

 

 

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In Australia, all public toilets have a 'disabled' one, which sometimes doubles as the female but is clearly marked. They are bigger, with a higher loo, grab rails and include the sink/washbasin. We've always called them family toilets as we use them with kids.

 

I'd second using nappy pants (aka continence aids) when going out so as a family. Then Steven can maintain his dignity in public when there are not facilities suitable.

I do realise he may not see it as dignified, but that is precisely why they were developed.

 

For home you can get a chair thing that sits over the loo with grab rails both sides.

There are a lot of aids available that most of us don't know to ask for when we need them.

 

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I've used the mens in a pinch when nature called and there was a back up in the womens, and no one seemed put out, so you having an exponentially better reason shouldn't be a problem. I just opened the door and called in "I'm a woman, I'm walking to a stall because I need to go and the womens is crowded" and then walked in looking pointedly away from the urinals. If you did the same (announced, look at the floor and walk your dh into a stall) I really can't see how you could have a problem. IMO, anyone who complained is a butt head, because you have a real need to be in there. I consider my poor weak bladder a compelling need too, lol.

 

Don't over think it, it's not a big deal. If you can get a male kid to clear the restroom even better, but if not, do what you gotta do.

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When I worked with individuals who needed assistance, I always brought them into the women's bathroom (because there are stalls and there is privacy).  It wasn't a real issue.  I can understand that your DH might feel a little uncomfortable, but people really don't care (at least in my experience), so he doesn't need to feel weird about it.

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Public restrooms do have signs saying that a member of the opposite sex may assist someone in the restroom.  So I would take him in the men's room.  But if possible, I would have a boy go in first to make sure that men aren't at the urinal and to then warn men going into the restroom.  

 

They do have signs like that in Washington state, but I don't know if I've seen it in other parts of the US. Regardless, you should still be able to take him into the men's room by calling out first as others have said. :grouphug:

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I take my disabled son into the women's room. He's in a power wheelchair, so we zip right into the handicapped stall. People aren't great at looking down, so very often we'll go by several women and not one head turns. I wouldn't take him into a women's locker room, but it's just less awkward to go into the women's room because there are no exposed gentlemen at the urinals. It smells better to.

 

I'm a little taken aback by the adult diaper suggestion. The logistics of dealing with that would be trickier than choosing a bathroom.

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I'm a little taken aback by the adult diaper suggestion. The logistics of dealing with that would be trickier than choosing a bathroom.

Why?

 

The idea would be that if there was no restroom readily available, he could use the adult diaper and it could be changed when they got home or found an appropriate bathroom. Obviously, it's not ideal, but it could be a backup option.

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Why?

 

The idea would be that if there was no restroom readily available, he could use the adult diaper and it could be changed when they got home or found an appropriate bathroom. Obviously, it's not ideal, but it could be a backup option.

 

 

Assuming he just has to pee that could work. I wouldn't expect him to sit in a real mess until we finished our outing and got home. I doubt there are appropriate bathrooms available for changing an adult's diaper.

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You could do either.  I see more and more single bathrooms out and about now meant for 'family' use or disabled situations like this.  

 

If you chose the men's room call out female caregiver OR ask manager to go in first for you.  OR take him to the larger handicapped stall in the women's.  At least there you don't have to wait on urinal men to leave.  And last resort consider an adult diaper if the situation won't allow good bathroom opportunities.  

 

I remember being worried about my son going in with me when still too young to go alone in the men's room.  I did go in once to get him out!  

 

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I am a bit shocked that there isn't public unisex disabled toilets in USA. Here they are standard. Even the dingiest public toilet in the smallest town has them.

Me too. In NZ it is a legal requirement. Usually if there is only one toilet it is set up for wheelchair use. The only exception is where it is really a staff only toilet but they are letting you use it as a favour (many places will make exceptions for young kids). I just assumed that disabled toilets would be standard in all western countries.

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Handicap accessible toilets are required by law and found everywhere. The issue is logistics of entering the public restroom to get to that stall. Does she enter the men's restroom, or take her dh into the womens? Personally, I would use the womens restroom due to the added privacy of stalls for anyone using the toilet. Would that make your dh uncomfortable? If he would prefer to use the men's, then I would do as pp suggested and call in before entering, or ask someone to clear the restroom for you.

 

Me too. In NZ it is a legal requirement. Usually if there is only one toilet it is set up for wheelchair use. The only exception is where it is really a staff only toilet but they are letting you use it as a favour (many places will make exceptions for young kids). I just assumed that disabled toilets would be standard in all western countries.
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Although what do small places do?  I'm talking like a small restaurant or very small store.

 

I can answer for the UK, because I was involved in setting up the toilets in our Village Hall.  We have just two toilets - one is for women/disabled and the other is for men.  Each is just a room for one person, with no separate stalls.  The women/disabled one is larger and has adapted facilities.  In order to receive any government funding for the hall, we had to make it welcoming to disabled people (with a ramp available and appropriate toilets).

 

L

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Just another suggestion that might make the OP's life easier. My mom had similar problems with this when my dad was suffering from dementia.  Shortly after my father passed she met someone who had business sized cards that could be discreetly handed out if anyone questioned what was going on.  It saved explanations. My mother wished she had thought of it.

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A village hall is a building in a village that is used for communal events, such as: teas during garden open days; Christmas panto; Christmas concert; Easter brunch; monthly film nights; Guy Fawkes drinks, etc.  It can also be hired by local businesses to use for classes, or by local people for parties, etc.  Ours has a hall with a stage, a kitchen, and two toilets. It also houses the post office.

 

In larger villages with churches, the church hall is usually used for all those events - religious or not.

 

L

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The first thing that pops to my head (after someone popping in to check the room) is to carry a small, laminated sign and double stick tape.  "Female caregiver present. We will be exiting shortly if you prefer to wait."  Or something along those lines.

And that's just because I'm bad at communicating with strangers in the moment, lol.

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Here comes the dumb question...what is a community hall?   I can certainly imagine what it is, but we don't have anything like that here (I don't think).

 

It is a public meeting space owned by the community.  Here in NH groups usually have to pay to rent it out, although some towns make exceptions depending on the group and the space.  In one local town there is a public opera house with the historical society downstairs, and the community house with an annex building - all publicly owned.  The fee to use the space, though, makes it impossible for small groups to afford (like the 4-H or the homeschool group).

 

In another local community they have a big space in the town hall, and then a smaller, nicer space in an old train depot across town.

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A village hall is a building in a village that is used for communal events, such as: teas during garden open days; Christmas panto; Christmas concert; Easter brunch; monthly film nights; Guy Fawkes drinks, etc.  It can also be hired by local businesses to use for classes, or by local people for parties, etc.  Ours has a hall with a stage, a kitchen, and two toilets. It also houses the post office.

 

In larger villages with churches, the church hall is usually used for all those events - religious or not.

 

L

 

our local community hall is the primary location of the fishing club, but people rent it out for wedding receptions, parties, special functions etc. sometimes people rent it out to have a large garage stall type  of thing. Dances take place there, and a local art club occasionally  hold public displays of their artwork there.

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As a person who changes adult diapers daily - Changing them in public is near to impossible and should be declared an olympic sport.

 

More so than that though are the feelings and dignity of the person. It is a huge adjustment for an adult to transition to the use of diapers/depends. I know it was a major issue for one of my relatives when the time came and he had no alternatives. In this situation I wouldn't even consider it.

 

I find people, on the whole, to be pretty adaptable when addressed logically. I think either bathroom would work along with an announcement before entering. Before I'd enter the men's it would have to be empty with someone stationed at the door.

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Wow. Another Aussie here amazed at the lack of disabled toilets.

 

I have been in many small towns and I can't fathom not having a disabled toilet. Not just a larger stall in the ladies room, an entirely seperate, single stall toilet. Even the smallest shops, if they have toilets accessible, will have them. I assume it's a legal requirment. It's just not even a consideration here. I use a wheelchair during periods of my pregnancies because of various issues and I have never encountered a space without a disabled toilet, both in large areas and smaller towns. I guess places out the back of nowhere might not have them, but I grew up in a country town and even they had them. The occasional place which is too small for 3 bathrooms, like my local gas station, has a single unisex stall, and that unisex stall is completely set up for wheelchair use with the bar etc.

 

Parents rooms, they are not mandatory, but most larger establishments have them. 

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Certainly ask first what your dh prefers.  I would be apt to say the women's rest room just because as others said there are all stalls with doors so privacy for everyone.  Unless someone is coming or going at the same time you are they might not even realize it is a man you are helping in the restroom.

 

I sign for the door might be appropriate if you want and/or the business size cards to hand out.

 

I have seen more and more men/women/handicapped restrooms where they have 1 for each gender with lots of stalls and then 1 or 2 handicapped/family rest rooms.

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I think I would ask him which he would prefer. I would probably default to the women's room otherwise. He might feel awkward going in the women's room since he's a guy, or he might feel awkward going in the men's room since he needs help (may make him feel less masculine in front of other men?).

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Wow. Another Aussie here amazed at the lack of disabled toilets.

 

I have been in many small towns and I can't fathom not having a disabled toilet. Not just a larger stall in the ladies room, an entirely seperate, single stall toilet. Even the smallest shops, if they have toilets accessible, will have them. I assume it's a legal requirment. It's just not even a consideration here. I use a wheelchair during periods of my pregnancies because of various issues and I have never encountered a space without a disabled toilet, both in large areas and smaller towns. I guess places out the back of nowhere might not have them, but I grew up in a country town and even they had them. The occasional place which is too small for 3 bathrooms, like my local gas station, has a single unisex stall, and that unisex stall is completely set up for wheelchair use with the bar etc.

 

Parents rooms, they are not mandatory, but most larger establishments have them. 

 

All US public spaces are required to have stalls for the disabled.  That isn't the issue.  It's a lack of unisex rooms that can be a problem.

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Having dealt with the diaper/public restroom/caregiver issue... Even the underwear style of diaper is incredibly hard to deal with in public. Bladder control was lost in the last few months of life with my daughter's brain tumor and balance became really bad. We HAD to go the diaper route and it was uncomfortable and shaming to her. :(

 

Some places here have family restrooms. Otherwise, I would get a laminated sign to tape to the door, knock and announce, and then take care of what you need to. I assume you've already changed clothing styles to help make life easier for both of you.

 

I have sad/funny stories of our crazy bathroom experiences; I now think they were an amazing bonding opportunity of shared adventure.

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I would take him in the men's room -- probably shout in first, but otherwise just go in with your DH and help.  Presumably the nature of the situation is obvious, and it would be pretty rotten of anyone to actually object.  

 

I'm really sorry that your husband is so ill.  You are in my thoughts.  

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I would not ask my disabled spouse to wear a diaper. That may be coming in the future and disabled people struggle enough with their dignity as is. I'd suck it up and invade the men's room. Firm rap on the door, calling out that you are coming in. Perhaps a brightly colored sign like a PP suggested.

 

My mom had a brain tumor and was disabled for nearly 12 years. These are the issues that our family dealt with for years.  Take your hubby out as much as you feel like it, deal with the bathroom issues and in a few months it will become old hat. It is incredible the things that we did for my mom and in the past we would've thought...NO way can I do that!

 

I'm so sorry for your pain and the health issues that you are handling. Hang in there.

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A comment about adult diapers.  They are really designed to handle urine only.  If there is a bowel movement, it can be very caustic to the skin.  We know that of course with our babies and change them quickly, but in an adult there is the added embarrassment and discomfort in cleaning things up thoroughly as well as the problem of having to wait until you get home.  

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Nope, only new construction.  Existing places were grandfathered in.  Our church does not have a men's toilet that is wheelchair accessible.  The new fellowship Hall built in the 2000 does, but the main church building/sanctuary built in the 30's does not.  We also have asbestos in our building as well.  This is why we haven't had a remodel.  To remodel would mean a half a million or so in asbestos removal and updating to be wheelchair accessible.  With 200 to 250 active members we don't have the funds for that.

 

Our church is the same way!  The bathrooms in the main Sanctuary building are SO tiny!  Even I feel squeezed getting in and out of stalls.  In the new building they are great. But the older stuff FEELS old

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My father has Parkinson's and needs assistance to use the toilet. When we are out, I take him to the men's room. I never thought much about it. I don't even announce that I'm coming in. No one has had an issue with it.

 

Diann

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I would default to the women's restroom since they always have stalls.  My fear using the men's room would be that I was in a stall helping and someone walked in to use the urinal.  That could quickly get awkward when I exited.

 

Call in and let people know you are entering then go ahead.  People will understand but the business card idea is great.

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Public restrooms do have signs saying that a member of the opposite sex may assist someone in the restroom. 

I've never seen one.  

 

I like the laminated sign idea, but after taking him in the men's room a few times, I suspect I would blow it off. 

 

 

 

You go in the bathroom of the person who will be dropping their pants.

 

This. Just take him in the men's room - they'll get over it.

 

 

 

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I would definitely say men's room (but I'd let him choose, of course). If he stands/walks well enough to poke his head in before you enter, that might help. 

 

I don't think there's a 'right' way to do it; it depends on his comfort level. Some people would prefer to clear the bathroom, while others would think that just draws more attention to it. I like the idea of the cards and the signs. 

 

My default would probably be to ask an employee for help - depending on how big/busy the place is, they have an employee bathroom they will let you use. If it's a place I'd like to go to often, like a favorite restaurant, I'd probably try to speak to the manager ahead of time and figure out what would work best. 

 

Mostly, though, I think men aren't going to blink at a female assisting a male in the bathroom. 

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As a special ed teacher and as a caregiver for people with dementia I have done a lot of helping in bathrooms in public. The OP has gotten plenty of great advice. I just want to add that I have NEVER received any hostile comments while helping people in the bathroom, no matter the mix of gender and bathroom.  This was true in far more conservative parts of the country as well as my present liberal location. :)  I think most people understand the delicacy of the situation. Melinda, don't let it stress you out.  Do what needs to be done and enjoy the rest of your day together. 

 

:grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:  :grouphug:

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