Assisting my Wife in Women’s Restroom

    • Anonymous
      January 28, 2009 at 6:31 pm

      Is it OK for me to assist my wife in a woman’s public restroom?

      My wife has CIDP which has taken 75% of her legs & 50% or more of her arms. She has fallen trying to get off of our own guest toilet that is standard height. Even with bars, she lacks the strength to push or pull herself up to where she can lock her knees. However, once up she walks with a walker.

      Believe me I do not look forward to sitting there in her walker and have women freak out, but when she has to go it’s right now! Of course when we have another woman with us that is able to lift her she accompanies my wife. I want to be able to display a card or ? that quotes the law regarding this.

      Some guidance please!:confused:

    • Anonymous
      January 28, 2009 at 7:01 pm

      I think, if it were me, I would call my county or state social services depts. and ASK! After all, you are the primary caretaker, tho not a ‘nurse’ or ‘home attendant’ per se, you have to qualify somehow somewhere…. Or call your state or federal congress persons regarding ADA and this issue? They have ‘people’ who deal with this stuff more than we can ever imagine, nor will they tell. I have gotten lots of help/info from these folks in the past and they are to be truly appreciated!
      Understand about the ‘gotta go’ NOW thing too. It’s embarassing and disconcerting and always happens at the most impossible of times!
      Also the whole needing HELP getting up and all that. You can lose so much and never really appreciate what you had until it’s not there.
      OldLincoln? You are one special and super good person! Hang in there and just give your wife a hug! From me or you? I don’t care. You are both special in my estimation.
      Sure hope this helps.

    • Anonymous
      January 28, 2009 at 9:47 pm

      If it were me I would stand up and be right in front of the door. They will realized that you standing in front of a handicap washroom so they must assume you are there for the person inside that washroom.


    • Anonymous
      January 28, 2009 at 10:24 pm

      I cannot address what it legal, but I know what would be fine for me as a very modest person all my life. I think it would be the surprise factor that would bother me–looking up and seeing a man in the restroom without a lady beside him or not knowing he was going to be there. I would not mind a man in the restroom to assist his wife, but it would startle me at first if I saw you there before realizing why, so I might say in situations in which there might be questions about your assisting your wife such as a big public restroom in a place with almost all strangers, you might think of announcing yourself as you enter. I might say something like “Just to let you know, a guy has entered this restroom because his wife requires assistance. There is no reason for concern”. Most airports and many newer public buildings have a “family” restroom that is a single stall and can be used by man or woman assisting a child or adult of either gender. For your “protection” from anyone getting upset, i would think it is also good ediquette to not look at anyone but your wife in the restroom-keeping your eyes turned away or looking down and staying in the handicap stall with her when she is there rather than waiting separate from her. I do not say this at all to make you more self conscious, but rather just to help prevent someone from coming face to face with you all a sudden and doing something like yelp in alarm which might escalate. My dad needed to help my mom after she was in a wheelchair. I will ask him if the rehabilitation people gave any special advice, but I think he just announced why he was there and did as above. He is a very shy, “proper” Southern gentleman and I know that this was probably the hardest thing for him to do–to step out of “tradition”, but he said that no one ever got upset and realized that he was just there to help her and not cause any concern. I admire him greatly for this act of love for her because it was not easy for him, but was required for them to do to get out of the house anytime. WithHope

    • Anonymous
      January 28, 2009 at 10:49 pm

      This has been bothering me for years. I have always felt we need more family restrooms in this country. Especially for people with disabilities and the
      fact that we are all living longer and need elder care. I have a 22 year old niece who is mentally 3 years old and will forever need assistance and an 82 year old uncle with Alzheimers in the same boat. When you see kids in the restroom with their parents nobody stares but anyone over the age of 12 and you feel the need to explain. I really do believe legislation needs to be passed in this area one day in the near future. I do see more family bathrooms in larger cities and places like malls and theme parks but more restaurants and
      theatres etc… need them. I know I will probably need my husbands assistance in the near future and I pray we don’t have to be homebound due to my disabilities.

    • Anonymous
      January 29, 2009 at 12:45 am

      Old Lincoln,

      Your wife is very lucky to have a hubby like you! This exact thing happened at a CIDP conference and a man had to help his newly diagnosed wife in the restroom. This was her first outing from the hospital. The conference restrooms were not handicap friendly and he didn’t know what to do. We helped him by leaving the door to the hallway open so women could see a man in the restroom. And we all understood why he was there!

      Not all places are set up for this…suggestion is to ask an employee to assist you so that other women see that you are supposed to be there.

      you could make up a sign to post on the door explaining that you are assisting your wife.

      I think this needs to be addressed further to push for more family restrooms.

      Take care

    • Anonymous
      January 29, 2009 at 12:50 am

      Thank you for the replies so far. I have had an interesting time this afternoon trying to find a “legal” answer.

      First the state department of public health had not considered the notion even though they are charged with AMA regulations. Nice people who agreed there must be an answer but after being passed around I was finally told to call my county public health.

      After being passed a couple times I end up with the director and again he had never thought about this. He did some checking and called me back a few minutes later saying it has to be at the federal level. The AMA has so much clout they must have addressed this. I did tell him I’d let him know what I find out. I will be calling their question line tomorrow as they were closed for the day. I’ll post what I find which I hope is a clear quotation from federal law I can put on a note card and keep in the walker to share with the mall cops.

      I’ve taken your common sense tips to heart and agree I’ll announce my presence and confine my position and gaze. I hadn’t thought too much about the process, etc. but it makes sense. I’ve seen it all and really am not interested anyway.

      Please keep advice coming especially if anyone has experienced this.

    • Anonymous
      January 29, 2009 at 2:15 pm

      OK, here is the official ADA position as stated by their hot-line. First of all, there are no specific rules pertaining to a male “personal aide” assisting a female in the woman’s restroom.

      What they recommend in this situation is that an employee be notified and they ensure the restroom is empty and stand guard while my wife uses the rest room. Their position is other women may be undressed and my entrance would violate their right to privacy. She spoke to “reasonable accommodation” and the rights of other’s must be protected also.

      Well that actually makes sense. I guess I thought women didn’t “undress” in the rest room, at least not outside a stall – don’t recall ever seeing a man do that in the men’s room – but it could happen.

      My wife can get down in a handicap stall and on many days can stand without help, and for those days this is not an issue. For her weak days, I think the following may work but I need input from the women here.

      Of course if there is time I’ll get an employee to check on her and guard the room when she is ready for my help.

      If no employees, I can knock loudly and call out to see if it is empty like a repairman does. She can go in and I’ll stand by the door and explain to new comers her need. They can either wait to go in or check on her before they leave, then hopefully stand guard while I assist. If they don’t wait, I’ll be very obvious and let new comers know I’m there. My wife can wait a few minutes when necessary.

      As long as she can walk with a walker I “think” this should work. Should the day come when she cannot walk, it’s a whole new ball game.

      I actually prefer waiting outside. While I’m harmless, I understand the anxiety some women may experience over seeing a man in there. Or worse, the anxiety some protective men may experience when their girlfriend/wife come out and tells them. I tend to dote over her a lot and may be over accommodating at times.

      Please let me know if I’m on the right track here.

    • Anonymous
      January 29, 2009 at 6:53 pm

      PS: At the risk of becomming a PITA (oops, too late!), I came across an interesting article today regarding this very same issue. It was a Google link to Harvard Design Magazine.


    • Anonymous
      January 30, 2009 at 6:12 am

      Hi ~ I like the idea of having a sign (sorta like the ones you hang on the mirror for parking) that you could hang on the outside door knob of the restroom. It would be very thoughtful of your [I]wife[/I] to “call out” that her husband was coming in to assist her. I think that I would be somewhat concerned to hear a man’s declaration.

      Thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and care for your wife 🙂

    • Anonymous
      January 30, 2009 at 8:27 pm

      Judi, both great ideas, thank you.

    • Anonymous
      February 1, 2009 at 10:12 am

      I agree with Judi. I would suggest your wife being vocal and explaining to the women in the restroom what her needs are. Perhaps the help of a fellow “rester” could come in the form of one of them coming out to get you when needed instead of you standing in wait. Between you, your wife and willing participants, I can’t see why this should be unworkable. Good luck.

    • Anonymous
      February 2, 2009 at 3:05 am

      A timely thread, OL, from a very good husband.

      In these days when transgendered people are allowed to use whichever toilet they believe most appropriate to themselves, I would think that people of both genders would need to realise that pretty much anyone could be in the toilet they use. So it’s sort of ‘let the user beware’ — don’t do anything outside the stall that you don’t want to have seen by anyone.


    • Anonymous
      February 2, 2009 at 11:42 am

      Thanks Deb, As I was reading all I could find I came across the transgender subject and was appalled the someone could choose which restroom to use based on their “comfort level”. What about my wife’s comfort level? I suppose if I got in trouble I could always tell the officer I feel more comfortable in the woman’s room.

      Hmmm, what if they tell me I have to wear a dress? Honey, you’re on your own!!:o

    • Anonymous
      February 3, 2009 at 3:34 am

      Why do I have a mental image of a burly construction worker with a day’s growth of beard wearing a miniskirt and tank top! :p


    • Anonymous
      February 3, 2009 at 2:53 pm

      Oh, way worse than that! Grey hair, little chubby, no butt and toothpick legs! Just what all the young ones look for on the beach!!:eek:

    • Anonymous
      February 6, 2009 at 12:52 pm

      [QUOTE=OldLincoln]Thanks Deb, As I was reading all I could find I came across the transgender subject and was appalled the someone could choose which restroom to use based on their “comfort level”. What about my wife’s comfort level? I suppose if I got in trouble I could always tell the officer I feel more comfortable in the woman’s room.

      Hmmm, what if they tell me I have to wear a dress? Honey, you’re on your own!!:o[/QUOTE]

      Part of the “comfort level” concern is that male-to-female transgender people risk their personal safety if they use the men’s room.

    • Anonymous
      February 7, 2009 at 12:27 pm

      Greetings, all.

      I brought up the issue of transgenderedness only for the purpose of helping to explain the legal issues involved with a man being in the women’s toilet. I would urge that this thread not be derailed and become a debate over this. If anyone wants to discuss issues outside of CIDP, please do it through PM or on any of the thousands of forums that are designed for these other subjects.



    • Anonymous
      February 7, 2009 at 7:33 pm

      [quote=keith]Part of the “comfort level” concern is that male-to-female transgender people risk their personal safety if they use the men’s room.[/quote]Hmmm, I don’t see that risk being any greater than the risk of my wife falling trying to get up without help. In her state that could easily kill her, immediately or delayed with a broken hip or such.