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Caring For a Loved One With Incontinence

When it comes to aging, one of those life changes that often gets overlooked and can be quite embarrassing to discuss is incontinence. In simple explanation, incontinence is the loss of bladder control in urination and bowels. In young children, it’s expected. In adults, it’s often embarrassing and stressful. Seniors who suffer from incontinence may not want to talk about it or feel isolated. Your senior loved one may even be worried that you would place them in a nursing home if you knew they were dealing with incontinence. As a caregiver or family member, addressing incontinence doesn’t have to be embarrassing or awkward for either of you.

The Impact of Incontinence

Psychologically, incontinence can make a person feel as if they have no control over their body. They may develop problems with body image or feel dependent. Some people don’t seek help because they are too embarrassed. In addition, incontinence can be a financial burden. Protective underwear is not inexpensive. Your senior may be spending time and money cleaning bedding and clothes. Incontinence can impact the caregiver as well. It can strain a relationship or make you feel like you’re invading your loved one’s privacy, especially with someone who has maintained independence for most of their life.

How to Cope With Incontinence

Dealing with incontinence will depend on many factors, from your loved one’s health to your own emotional resources. You may need to take a multi-layered approach.

Diagnose Incontinence

There are many reasons seniors may become incontinent. Discussing it with a healthcare provider can help you find the cause and treatment if possible. There may be medications that can help or home care options that will help manage the problem. In some cases, alternate therapies or surgery may correct the problem. A call to your primary doctor for a referral to a urologist is the first step.

Planning Ahead

Treat incontinence as a matter of routine care rather than an inconvenience. It’s as simple as planning ahead before leaving the comforts of home. Pack a bag with extra clothes, protective underwear and plastic bags when you’re out. Know where the bathrooms are in case you need to make a quick stop. When flying, ask for a seat near the bathroom. If you’re on the road, be proactive and make frequent stops to allow them to go without feeling as a nuisance to continually stop.

Dealing With Embarrassment

Adults do not like to discuss their bodily functions, so it’s not uncommon to find the topic of incontinence difficult to address. When you talk to your loved one, admit that you are uncomfortable talking about it too, but that you’re concerned for their well-being. Ask what you can do to help instead of just taking charge. Find solutions together. If it is too hard for you to provide care, a home health care provider may be just what you need.

Home Helpers of Drexel Hill has caregivers that can take the stress off you and your family. Contact us for more information.