For carers, urinary incontinence care can be a very sensitive issue. It’s difficult for many older people to handle on their own and frequent leaks can be embarrassing – even humiliating. So how can carers help ease their loved one into trying urinary incontinence products liners, pads or underwear? Here are some suggestions on how to help your loved one address their urinary incontinence with dignity, comfort, and support.
- Don’t Say “Nappy”
What adult wants to wear “Nappies?” Nappies are for babies and toddlers who haven’t been toilet-trained. Any adult would feel helpless and embarrassed to think that they’ve regressed to being cared after and changed like a baby. Here’s a better way to talk about urinary incontinence products: call them by a different name. Try “pad” or “brief” – or even “underpants.” A simple change in language can empower your loved one by proving you respect them as an independently functioning adult.
- Educate Yourself
Understanding what kind of incontinence your loved one has will go a long way in providing incontinence care for him or her. Not only will it help you understand the ins and outs of their condition, you will be able to empathise a little more with their experience and be able to advocate for them, too. Here’s some more info on the different types of incontinence.
Stress incontinence is the result of a pelvic floor weakened by things like childbirth or being overweight, and leads to little leaks sneaking out when pressure is placed on the bladder during everyday activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise. Stress incontinence is best managed by performing exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor, such as kegel exercises. Schedule time for your loved one to perform these exercises.
Urge incontinence, also known as having an overactive bladder or OAB, happens when sudden, frequent urges to urinate come on strongly, even when there is no urine in the bladder. Your loved one may or may not be able to make it to the toilet on time. OAB happens due to muscle or nerve damage in the bladder tissue as a result of previous pelvic surgery or neurological disease. Urge incontinence is best managed on a day-to-day basis by adopting a bladder-friendly diet. This means avoiding foods that aggravate the bladder, such as alcohol, caffeine, carbonated beverages, and citrus fruit.
Overflow incontinence, which is more common in men than in women, occurs when the bladder doesn’t successfully empty itself all the way due to a blockage or muscle weakness, so it leaks when it is full even though no urge to urinate was felt. Overflow incontinence is best managed by daily catheterisation to relieve pressure in the bladder.
Many women experience a mixture of two different kinds of incontinence. This can also be known as mixed incontinence.
- Have Your Loved One Talk to a Doctor or a Peer
Are you having trouble convincing your loved one to try protection against bladder leaks? Or maybe the topic is too hard to even discuss? Not only are bladder leaks embarrassing, they are embarrassing to talk about – especially for many elderly parents to discuss with their own children.
That’s why the urinary incontinence issue may be better approached by a non-family member, like an old friend or a doctor. A peer can empathise with the challenges of ageing and connect on an emotional level to comfort your loved one. He or she may even share advice based on their own personal experiences. Reassure your friend that urinary incontinence, while often not discussed, is quite a common condition. In fact, 1 in 3 women over the age of 35 experience some form of urinary incontinence. A doctor can reassure them by explaining that their situation is normal and that many other patients of a similar age face urinary incontinence, too.
Keep a schedule of when incontinence products need to be changed. Use an alert on your phone to notify you when changes are needed. This way, you can avoid doing unnecessary loads of washing. Be sure to schedule additional time for bathing a loved one after a urinary or bowel movement, too.
Leaving the house when you’re caring for an incontinent loved one can feel like a monumental task. The stress of caring for an incontinent person in a public toilet can feel particularly daunting. With a little planning, however, leaving the house can be made easier. Pack a bag with necessary supplies. Good things to have on you are pads, wipes, incontinence underwear, gloves, and a change of clothes. Consider bringing a laminated sign to post outside public toilets to alert other people and ask for patience and consideration – for instance “wife caring for disabled husband.”
- Know your limitations
Caring for an incontinent person is often quite a physical task, involving lifting, moving, shifting, helping them out of bed, standing them up and sitting them down. All of this becomes challenging when there is a large difference in size between the two people. Age and disability also often affect the ease with which a loved one can be manoeuvred. Consider consulting a physical therapist for tips on how to move a loved one properly without causing injury to yourself.
- Find Support
Carers are often the last to be taken care of. Becoming a carer can be a taxing process, that is all too often thrust upon us without much forewarning. The ins and outs of providing incontinence care can be demanding. Be sure to cultivate a support system for yourself as a carer. A friend or peer will be helpful to talk to about the challenges and rewards of the experience, and can provide you with just the boost you need in order to provide the best for your loved one.
- Find the Right Fit
A big part of providing incontinence care is picking the right incontinence products to use. Different degrees of urinary incontinence require different levels of protection. Find ALWAYS DISCREET urinary incontinence products that match your loved one’s size, leakage level and protection needs. For light leaks, try liners or pads. For heavier bladder leaks, try our underwear. All ALWAYS DISCREET products use gel technology that absorbs liquids in seconds, keeping your loved one dry and comfortable. Our odour neutralising core will keep your loved one feeling confident.
Having the right protection will help your loved one stay confident and active because they don’t have to constantly worry about embarrassing bladder leaks or urine odours. The right protection can help them feel free from the restrictions of incontinence – and they’ll have you to thank for it!