imageI have purchased two yoga mats this year.

Ah, yoga and the ability to practice mindfulness, restore well-being, improve flexibility, and renew vitality. As I type this, my mind begins to hear soft music, I envision sitting on the floor in some sort of cross-legged, straight-backed, serene pose and then as soon as I achieve this nirvana, I am brought back to reality. In my mind, I hear the rewind of a tape or maybe more of a filmstrip that concluded and released itself and keeps clicking as it whips against the projector casing. I remember that sound from grade school days. Someone flips the light-switch on and we snap back to attention and rub our eyes. This is more of my reality.

Every morning I step onto a yoga mat. It is not because I am going to my happy place but because Mom needs to get out of bed safely. Since her stroke, on most days, she has been able to get out of bed during the night to use the commode independently. She has been able to perform a simple “stand and pivot” to push the tush enough and perch upon the modern day chamber pot.

For the past year, though, this has been more difficult. Sequencing and awareness have been problems since the stroke. During the night, she can stand and pivot but she starts to pull her brief and pj bottoms down before she is close enough to plop the cheeks on the plastic-ringed landing pad. This results in a stream on the floor from the bed to the commode. The hardwood floors have taken a beating and safety is a concern with puddles of pee on the floor.

Necessity is the mother of invention. I grabbed the anti-skid pad from the back of my Subaru Forrester and put that on the floor one day. It allowed for easy clean-up. Knowing scatter rugs are a huge safety hazard to our elders, I frog-taped the mat to the floor. Each morning I swabbed the Subaru mat to ensure the room didn’t start to smell of urine. Some days she made it without an accident. After power-washing the mat this summer, I knew it was time to retire it to the great rubber plant in the sky.

While looking for alternatives, I found plastic sheeting but it was too slippery. I had an epiphany and tried a yoga mat. The physical therapist who had conducted a home safety eval wasn’t too impressed but I demonstrated the wet floor versus the taped-down yoga mat. His argument couldn’t hold water.

So now, we use yoga mats to protect the floor as she does a “two-step”, or rather three-step, shuffle to empty her bladder at night. When I hear the sound of a full stream of urine hitting the bottom of the pot, I breathe a sigh of relief. When I don’t hear that, it is the end of the filmstrip. On goes the light, and I know it is for me to go into her room, step onto the mat, and assume the position. The position is not one of serenity but one I call “CLEAN UP AISLE 3.”


6 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
6 Comment authors
daffy donDenisePegijanpushingpetals Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Please notify me:

You are such a great caregiver for your mom!! Your visualization of Yoga has to count as exercise in my book!!! Is there a reason you can’t have a portable commode by the bed at night? I love the “tall toilet seat” for Elly but her issue soon will be how to get up off of it. Getting older is not for WIMPS!!


Thanks for a great post, and thanks for showing how to keep a good attitude in a challenging situation.


Simply brilliant!


Hi–I got really behind on posting comments (I’m working on getting caught up) but I wanted to tell you that I shared your post with Susannah Fox of Pew Research Center. She’s tracking what she calls “hacks”–adjustments family caregivers make to make caring at home work. She’s added a link to your blog on your her about hacks. If you scroll all the way down, you’ll see it:

I just love your post.