Being a caregiver for somebody with incontinence issues can be a difficult feat. It requires you to build a strong personal relationship with the person who has incontinence, carefully plan schedules, and ensure there are a variety of essential products at hand. You may struggle emotionally if you feel underappreciated and resentful if it feels like somebody is having accidents “on purpose.”
The good news is that once you get in the rhythm of everything, it can become significantly easier to help someone deal with incontinence on a daily basis. You’ll want to start by building a trusting relationship with an open dialogue.
How to Discuss Incontinence
It might be tempting not to talk about incontinence at all, but it’s a necessary conversation. Talk openly. It’s key to remain empathetic when discussing incontinence. The individual you’re caring for might feel ashamed or anxious about their condition. Be patient and relaxed both when talking about incontinence and when helping clean up after it.
Sometimes a person might be in denial of his incontinence and show resistance to wearing protective garments or taking preventative measures. Remember that nobody is trying to be difficult and try to avoid putting anybody in a defensive state of mind.
Don’t say their home or room smells of urine or make any accusations. Instead, remind them that incontinence is common and shouldn’t cause any shame. Calmly explain how the use of incontinence products makes life simpler for both of you. It’s also useful if the person under your care feels comfortable sharing any side effects of their incontinence with you.
This way you know whether or not you need to contact his doctor. If somebody doesn’t usually experience incontinence, but has been recently, it can be a sign of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or another medical condition that needs attention. For people who normally have incontinence, you should consider taking them to the doctor if they suddenly lost the ability to urinate, have chronic constipation or diarrhea, show signs of depression, or develop rashes that don’t fade after topical cream usage.
How to Plan for Someone with Incontinence
Encourage the person with incontinence to keep a “bladder diary” at least temporarily. This journal should contain what he eats and drinks. It should also document when he used the bathroom (whether on purpose or accidentally) throughout the day. This information can help determine if any particular foods or drinks are irritating the bladder. It also shows the current frequency of bathroom usage.
With this knowledge at your disposal, help the person with incontinence develop a bathroom schedule. This may involve a period of “bladder training” where he slowly increases the amount of time between bathroom breaks. Soon, going to the bathroom around the same times every day will feel routine. The routine will help his body adjust and make it easier to avoid unwanted leaks.
If the person needs support in the bathroom, make sure to be patient and not make him feel rushed. Consider running water or playing music to keep embarrassment down and create a tranquil environment. If you are leaving the house, using an accessible toilet will provide much more room for assistance.
Travelling will involve some careful planning. If possible, try to stay as close as possible to his regular bathroom schedule. Always know where the nearest bathrooms are and sit close to them on planes, trains, or buses. Most importantly, always have a plastic bag with you that contains all necessary incontinence products.
What Products to Purchase for Someone with Incontinence
There are a variety of products that can help with incontinence. Some of these will vary depending on the person. For example, if somebody only has mild incontinence, using incontinence pads is sufficient. However, a person with more severe incontinence requires adult diapers. These need to be properly fitted to the person based off of size and gender. It’s recommended to try out several fits before choosing which to use long-term. Some people choose to have a supply of these items delivered to them at the same time every month.
Many people decide to purchase waterproof covers for beds and other furniture. This way, if there is an accidental leak, these surfaces are safe. You might also keep incontinence in mind if you’re helping the person under your care purchase clothing. Materials that are machine washable are preferable in case of leaks. If a person sometimes struggles to remove clothing fast enough in the bathroom, consider bottoms with elastic waistbands or velcro fasteners instead of buttons and zippers.
It’s important to keep the areas covered by adult diapers or pads clean and dry, so have gentle soaps at hand. In case these areas still get irritated, have a petroleum-based cream to apply. Avoid products with perfumes or chemicals.
Caring for Yourself
You need to take time for yourself occasionally. Taking breaks in caregiving can refresh you and remind you why you’re helping in the first place. Remember that caring for someone with incontinence feels more routine with time. Build up a personal connection, have a schedule down, and make sure you’re always stocked with crucial products. Incontinence can be difficult for both you and the person who has it to adjust to, but it’s easier when you’re well-prepared.