Activities of daily living (ADLs) are fundamental skills that are necessary for independent self-care, such as eating, walking, using the toilet, dressing, bathing/showering, and mobility. ADLs are used to indicate an individual’s functional status and to determine qualifications for medical care, therapy, nursing care, and insurance eligibility. When loved ones need assistance with ADLs, this may require family caregivers to learn how to appropriately support and provide care in a manner that allows their loved one to maintain some independence while living at home.

This document will address understanding resistance to toileting, considerations for assisting with toileting, and maintaining a safe and healthy environment when toileting through tips and tools to support your caregiving responsibilities. Additionally, this factsheet will refer to incontinence, which is the loss of bladder control.

Understanding Resistance to Toileting

Having difficulty with or resistance to toileting, whether due to incontinence or not, can cause frustration for both the caregiver and the care recipient. Since toileting is such an intimate activity, the care recipient may feel shame for losing their independence and autonomy and refuse to accept help. Due to the private nature of toileting, they may not want to communicate or admit the challenges they are experiencing and refuse help due to not wanting to be a burden.

Considerations for Assisting with Toileting

The care recipient may experience accidents due to not wanting assistance with toileting or due to incontinence, which is the loss of bladder control.

Maintaining Safety and Hygiene when Toileting

Additional Assistance

If you need additional assistance in assisting with toileting due to discomfort by you or the care recipient or due to greater than physical capability, in-home care may be an option. Additionally, consulting with a physician or dietician may help to understand the right diet for incontinence.


With knowledge of why your care recipient may be resisting toileting, tips for toileting, and the right tools that work best for both you and your care recipient, toileting can be a more efficient, safer, and easier process to navigate with confidence and meeting them where they are at.


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