Throwing Things into the Toilet


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My mother has Alzheimer’s and is throwing things in the toilet, causing a lot of plumber bills. It there an insert that can be put under the toilet seat, like a potty chair insert?



Throwing Things into the Toilet

Dear KA,

One approach to decreasing this difficult behavior is to try to prevent it from happening.  If you haven’t already done so, try to find out why your mother might be throwing things into the toilet.  If she is restless or bored, perhaps it would help to occupy her hands with less destructive activities, such as going through a rummaging box or assembling a puzzle.  If she is trying to dispose of certain items that are causing her distress, removing those items from her surroundings might help.  Perhaps there is a pattern to the items that she is throwing into the toilet based on memories, color, or shape, which she finds distressing.  If she simply enjoys putting things into water or watching things swirl around, you might consider getting her some water toys or a toy fountain (or even a pet drinking fountain) that she can throw things into as a substitute for the toilet.

If she continues to throw things into the toilet, one option to consider is placing toilet lid locks on all of the toilets.  Toilet locks come in a variety of designs and can be found at most suppliers of child safety items.  Some toilet locks require pressing buttons to unlock while others are simple latch systems.  Depending on your mother’s abilities, some of these locks may be able to prevent your mother from opening the toilet seat.
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Another option is to cover the toilet bowl so that items cannot be dropped into it.  A very simple way to do this is to cover the opening with a clear plastic wrap, such as Saran or Reynolds Wrap.  You can apply a piece of plastic wrap directly over the opening of the toilet bowl and, if necessary, tape down the edges to the bowl to secure it more firmly.  Whether this approach is effective or not will partly depend upon whether your mother has the ability to remove the plastic wrap.

Another way to cover the toilet bowl is with specimen catchers that are inserted into the toilet bowl.  These specimen catchers are usually containers with wide lips that fit over the opening of the toilet bowel to collect a person’s urine.  They cover most of the toilet bowl opening but are fairly easy to remove, so securing them to the bowl with tape might make it more difficult for your mother to remove.  You may be able to find such specimen catchers at a medical supply store.

Lastly, you can consider placing a lock on the outside of the bathroom door to prevent your mother from accessing the bathroom without supervision.  Depending on your mother’s abilities, a deadbolt or a key lock might be an option.

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