Incontinence is a difficult and emotionally fraught problem. Caregivers are often hesitant to address the subject with their elderly loved one (especially if the loved one is a parent), but find themselves frustrated with trying to manage this situation.
Maintaining dignity is most important when dealing with incontinence issues.
Even though incontinence is a difficult problem, there are ways that you can safely manage it. There are tips that can guide in you determining the best possible way to care for the senior in your life, and help them maintain some dignity while dealing with incontinence. Here is what you need to know about how to manage elderly incontinence at home:
- Have an open and honest conversation. The first step is to have a conversation with your elderly loved one, if this is possible. Seniors who are suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia may not be able to participate in this aspect of their care. Acknowledge the problem, and let your senior know that there are ways to deal with it. One of the most positive steps is letting them know they do not have to deal with this alone.
- Rule out the cause, if possible. When anyone is suffering from incontinence (whether urinary, bowel, or both), a doctor should be consulted right away. The reason for this is that there are medical causes and/or medications that can cause incontinence. Your doctor can work with you in finding a diagnosis for the incontinence and finding a remedy, if there is one.
- Have the right supplies on hand. Whether or not you have an official diagnosis of the cause(s) of incontinence, it is important to have the right supplies on hand. Disposable undergarments are available in a variety of styles and sizes and are available at most grocery, drug and department stores as well as numerous online outlets.
- Make it easy to use the bathroom. Many people suffering from incontinence still want to get to the bathroom, even when wearing adult incontinence aids. You should first make sure that there is a clear path to the bathroom. Furniture and other obstacles should be removed from traffic paths. It can be helpful for the senior to wear easy-to-remove clothing. Zippers, buttons, and other intricate closures that are difficult to open should be traded out for Velcro, snaps, or elastic waist pants. In addition, you want to make being in the bathroom safer. Handrails, raised toilet seats, and easy-to-use self-cleaning products, all make using the bathroom an easier experience.
- Consider diet and routine. Research has found certain triggers for incontinence. Caffeinated drinks and chocolate can cause many people to have to go much more often, as can alcohol. Spicy foods, carbonated beverages, and foods with high acidity like tomatoes, peppers, and citrus, can be bladder irritants and might best be avoided. In addition, having a regular schedule of using the bathroom can lessen incontinence issues. You can encourage your senior to use the bathroom every few hours, and see if that has an effect on helping the problem.
- Make the surroundings better. Unfortunately, incontinence is not just a bathroom issue. Many seniors who suffer from incontinence have accidents, and the odor and damage to furniture and carpets can be upsetting. There are products that can be used to discreetly protect furniture, wheelchairs, and beds. These underpads are most often disposable, though some can be washed and reused. There are air fresheners and cleaning solutions to help deal with odors as well to make the home environment more pleasant for the senior and caregiver alike.
About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.
Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.