– Question –
My mom is driving me crazy. She’s 86 years old, lives with us, and wakes up so many times at night to go to the bathroom.
I’m afraid she’s going to fall, but I can’t get up to watch her every time. I’m exhausted already from working full-time, taking care of my family, and taking care of my mom.
Why does Mom pee so much? Is that normal?
– Answer –
Frequently peeing at night is called nocturia. Aging is one of the biggest factors in nocturia. Seniors produce less of the hormone that helps us retain fluid and decrease urine production, especially at night. Bladder muscles also get weaker and their bladders actually hold less liquid.
Check with her doctor
Even though older adults need to pee more often during the night, it doesn’t mean that going so many times is normal. Take her to her doctor and describe how often she’s been peeing at night.
She should be tested for urinary tract infections and medical conditions that cause nocturia. The doctor can also make sure that this isn’t being caused by medications she’s taking (like diuretics) or by chronic pain that wakes her up.
Try lifestyle changes
Try restricting how much liquid your mom drinks in the evenings. Have her drink more during the daytime and keep it to a bare minimum after dinner. During the day, wearing compression stockings or putting her feet up periodically will help fluid circulate better and also reduces nighttime peeing.
Prevent falls and injury
You’re right to worry, going to the bathroom frequently at night increases the chances that you mom will fall or hurt herself. After going to the doctor to rule out medical conditions or other problems that could cause nocturia, she may still need to get up at least once at night. That’s pretty normal.
To decrease the chance that she’ll hurt herself, make sure the path to the bathroom is well-lit with automatic night lights and that the pathway is clear of any clutter. You can also add grab bars (many don’t need any installation!) in the bathroom to help keep her steady.
Another good idea is to teach her how to get up and get help if she does fall. That way, even if she falls, you know she won’t have to lie helpless on the floor until morning. Using a string to hang a loud cowbell or whistle in a central place (reachable from the floor) is another way for her to wake you in case she needs help.