Nitty Gritty, Down and Dirty

Last updated: September 2022

My mom has been living with us for almost 10 years - it's hard to believe as I write this. Where does the time go? My dad died in November of 2012. I couldn't see mom staying alone in rural Mississippi. Specialist doctors were hours away. The nearest grocery store is a couple of towns over, as was the local community hospital.

We have had family conversations about mom living with us. Everyone has been good about it. We love having her here. She is easy-going, funny, self-deprecating, and adorable. Everyone who meets her says so. Sometimes, my husband has a hard time, though. He thought our life together would mean an empty nest, not the addition of an old bird!

I'm talking about incontinence

How do I talk about this delicately? Mom does have one issue, which is common to many women, but mom, even more so these days, is incontinence.

She used to wear pads in her drawers. Now she wears pull-ups. Ever since the kids wore them, that's what we all call them, even for adults. It's not a slam. It's just what they are. It's better than calling them diapers, in my opinion. Dad wore them with fasteners on the sides, so that's basically what they were.

She used to leave them in the bathroom trash can. They started to stink. A lot. My family wasn't happy about that. I had to have a talk with mom. My husband talked to her, not always patiently, which made me mad.

Not her fault

It's not her fault. She can’t smell anything, and she can't help not being able to stay dry! I didn't want to embarrass mom. It was heartbreaking for me. She is not super sensitive or anything - that's another nice thing about her.

I just know I would feel terrible. Mom started taking her pull-ups into her room with her, to her sitting room or bedroom. The bathroom we all used, including guests, started smelling better, but mom's room started smelling worse.

My kids or my husband would come to me and ask me to go check on grandma, "It's stinky in there." I would then go in to investigate empty trash and change the sheets or bed pads. I didn't want them to avoid her due to the smell.

How to tame the trash and stop the stink?!

I need help with this! This is what we are doing so far. I have purchased a charcoal smell absorber to put at the bottom of her trashcan. It's actually a heavy-duty, mini metal trashcan with a lid. I think it's supposed to be for compost. I have a scented trash bag in it.

For a while, mom was tying each pull-up in a doggie waste bag. I bought an automatic air freshener sprayer for her room.

I thought of getting a Diaper Genie. We had one briefly when the kids were little. I didn't keep it long. Once it was opened to be emptied, the smell would take the paint off a wall! How could a sweet baby generate such toxic waste?! Maybe the technology has improved? I looked into adult diaper versions. The reviews are mixed, and they aren't cheap. It doesn't have to be cheap, but if I splurge, it has to work.

Maintaining the trash situation

As long as the lid is on the can, I don't notice a smell. When the lid comes off to be added to or emptied, the devil comes wafting out!

When it's my son's day to empty the trash, he takes a deep breath in the doorway, rushes to the can with his t-shirt over his nose, removes the lid, empties the can, puts the lid on, rushes back into the hall and gasps for a few fresh breaths. A little dramatic; I wonder where he gets that? Thankfully grandma is not in the audience for that show.

I've sprayed the can with Lysol. I've set it in the sun. I've washed it with a bleach cleanser. Trash is emptied twice a week. If any trash is missed in the house, it's that one. No one wants to do it.

Give my nose strength!

The simplest answer is to take each one out to the trash each time. But really? Should I empty it every night? And there isn't even poop in there yet! The poop day is coming, judging by the comments I've read in this group! Oh good Lord, give my nose strength!

Please, share what works for you. It's the nitty gritty down and dirty we need help with but can find hard to talk about. Help!

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