Dealing with Incontinence

Speaking to Elderly

Incontinence can be tough to handle and is often embarrassing for the elderly, which is why they quietly suffer. Whether it is not being able to control their bladder or dealing with urgency, it is critical for the caregiver to take a proactive approach to recognize and sensitively interact in a way that fosters independence at home.

As people age, they find it difficult to control their bladder and bowel functions for many reasons.  Some of the medical reasons includes Diabetes, side effects of medication, Urinary Tract Infections or weakened muscles due to stroke or Parkinson’s disease.

These are some tips that can help reduce the stress and cope with the condition:

  1. Scheduled restroom breaks: Encourage the use of the restroom at regular set intervals, starting with every hour and gradually extending the time.  This will help reduce the risk of experiencing urgency or leakage. 
  2. Stay hydrated: It is important to stay hydrated with water as dehydration can make incontinence worse.  Avoid caffeinated coffee, teas and sodas.
  3. Make going to the bathroom easier: At home, ensure that there is an easy path to the bathroom with no furniture or clutter in the way. Use bathroom safety equipment like handrails to make the senior feel more secure and independent.  While in a public place, get to know where the closest restroom is. If getting to a toilet is impossible, a commode chair may be most appropriate.
  4. Incontinence protective underwear and pads: There are many options available for adults with all levels of incontinence to provide comfort and confidence. Pads or guards help the elderly with light bladder leakage while protective underwear or adult diapers help complete bladder emptying.  These should be changed regularly to keep skin dry and to avoid chaffing.
  5. Protect furniture and bedding: Stained mattresses and furniture are difficult to clean often.  Therefore, using protective tools makes it easier for the caregiver to provide the elderly with a clean environment.  Absorbent under pads/ under sheets allows the person to lie or sit on a dry surface.  Waterproof mattress covers prevents leaks from soaking through the surface that needs protection.  Mattress covers should not come directly in contact with the elderly person’s skin in order to avoid bed sores.  These products can be purchased as washable or disposable. 
  6. Wearing the right clothes: By wearing easy to remove clothes like those with elastic waistband or Velcro can possibly avoid an accident from happening. 
  7. Purchase products online: Buying adult incontinence products in stores can be embarrassing for some.  Opting for online purchases and home delivery can help the elderly person maintain their dignity.
  8. Pack reinforcements: While going out, carry a bag with necessary supplies that the elderly person may need such as incontinence briefs, wipes and also a change of clothes to use in case of an accident.
  9. Get help: There can be times when incontinence becomes a difficult thing for a family member to take care of either due to work commitments or sometimes because they cannot bear to deal with it.  Fortunately, Caregivers in personal medical hygiene care and other home care nursing services are available to deal with exactly this and help families cope with incontinence.

Finally, approach the person with patience, understanding and empathy, so they don’t feel more anxious or stressed about their condition.


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Aging Care

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Heath in Aging