Urinary Retention and Parkinson’s Disease


I’m reaching out to you today because my father’s Parkinson’s disease is taking a major toll on my mother’s health (his only caregiver) and I need your help. Among the many issues, the main one that my mothers struggles with is when my father wakes up two to three times per night to use the bathroom. My mother has to wake up and help him. I’ve taken care of him many times before and I’ve noticed that while he has the intense urge to go, he doesn’t actually urinate very much. My mother has a full time job and at the age of 63 she is beginning to wear down and become very tired and depressed.

Please, do you have any idea what can be done about this?

I would really appreciate any help!!




Thanks for sending in your question. What a formidable problem you present! In one small paragraph, many issues present themselves. It sounds like your question pertains more to a concern about your mother’s overall health than your father’s PD. Let me first address your mother’s challenge.

I am guessing that your Mom has been sucked into (virtually) full time caretaking (aside from some relief you and perhaps other siblings provide). The job of the sick person is to take the energy from people who are well. Your father is doing his job very well indeed it appears.

The most important job of the caretaker is to take care of themselves.What is your mother doing for herself? She needs time to do what she loves doing. She needs time away from taking care of your Dad. I am of course guessing here – but she probably thinks to herself –

Who else is here to take care of him?

The best answer to this question is another question:

To what extent is your day taking care of himself?

You are asking about a medical challenge your father is facing -  but your father is not writing in about his problem. Has he resigned himself to a dismal fate of continuing ill health and disease? If this is the case, he is sure to manifest his expectation. And if that is the case, your mother is enabling this expectation.

If your Dad is not willing to take care of himself – why should anyone else step up to the plate and assume that role for him? That just dis-empowers him. He will be able to do less and less as the weeks unfold.

People with Parkinson’s who get worse refuse to do anything for themselves other than do what they are told. People who get well insist on taking care of themselves. They experiment. They do research. They try out new therapies.

In my opinion, your Mom needs to begin taking huge chunks of time out for herself. She may be amazed to discover how much your Dad can do for himself when he is challenged to do so. I can assure you that your Dad does not want to make your Mom sick. The best gift she can give to him is to stay healthy. The only way to accomplish this is to break away from him and take time out for herself.

As for the more immediate problem of night time visits to the bathroom…the question turns on what is causing the problem.  What is his body trying to tell him? Here is where naturopaths are wonderful assets. Once the problem has been identified – it can be remedied. The body always knows how to heal itself. Possibilities include:

  • Side effects of medications he takes
  • Dehydration of the tissues (he drinks less because he thinks that will make him pee less)
  • Insufficiency of certain minerals (like magnesium, etc.)
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Inflammation
  • Other?

The problem may be related to the deterioration of your Dad’s neurological system.  When a cup or so of urine has collected into your Dad’s bladder, a signal is triggered from from the physical expansion of the bladder that travels through the nerves located in the bladder wall. This signaling cue is transmitted to nerves in the spinal cord and the brain. The brain in turn sends a signal that contracts the bladder wall and relaxes the sphincter muscle.

As your Dad is able to reverse the neurological damage (if he chooses to do so), it is likely that this signaling system can come back on line.

The solution depends on the cause. Can it be solved? Of course! I interview naturopaths all the time on my radio program who are incredible resources. If there is not one near where you live, you can get help from one of the naturopaths I have interviewed on a long distance basis. You can get to know the naturopaths through my radio program at:


Does your father want this night time problem to be solved? If he does,what is he doing about it? Or, is this really just a problem for your Mom?

The hardest challenge for a son who loves his parents is to honor whatever choices they make. Perhaps your Dad will not take any positive action to help himself recover. As his son, your job is to honor and accept his decision.

Perhaps your Mom will insist on taking care of him to the detriment of her own health. As her son, your job is to honor and accept her decision.

We all get to depart this earth in our own way and time. Who is to say their choices are wrong for them?

Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.
Parkinsons Recovery

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One thought on “Urinary Retention and Parkinson’s Disease

  1. I’m a 65 year old man with parkinson’s. I had a problem with urine retention. I was told I would have to use a catheter 5 times a day. I told the doctor that it just seemed like I couldn’t relax the muscles in the area. Later I found out that I had Parkinson’s. When I started treatment the problem pretty much went away until they started to i change my medication. Your father’s situation could be well beyond mine but it might be worth a try to treat the problem as if it were caused by PD. You might look into medical merijuna if you haven’t already. Small studies indicate some improvements in symptoms. Muscle relaxers could be a possible benefit. Just a thought from someone with a similar situation. I hope it helps your family.

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