Tips for Dealing with Incontinence in Seniors

Incontinence can be a delicate subject when dealing with seniors.  It is one of the most embarrassing issues with getting older.  Since incontinence mainly affects people over the age of sixty, it is often seen as a senior health problem.

What Causes Incontinence?

While certain medications or medical problems can cause a person to have an incontinence problem, the main cause is from weakened pelvic muscles that normally prevent unplanned urination and defecation.

Some people have stress incontinence that results from forceful actions such as coughing or sneezing.  Others may only have the problem when their bladder is full and they experience a small leaking issue.  Seniors with dementia may not be able to prevent the urge when it comes on and results in them being unable to get to the bathroom in time.

People who have incontinence issues are often embarrassed, especially if they require help in cleaning up.  It can make them feel like they are losing control; this is worse if their caregiver is a family member that they must rely on.

How to Help a Senior with Incontinence

If you are caring for a family member that has incontinence issues, follow these tips to make it easier for you and for them.

  • Do not act embarrassed or disgusted about the situation.  The senior already feels uncomfortable about what happened; do not draw attention to it.
  • Do not get angry or tell them they should have gone to the bathroom sooner.
  • Do not talk about it more than necessary.

Here are some practical ways of dealing with incontinence to avoid it and handle it when it happens.

  • Put a sign on the bathroom door for those with dementia so they can remember where it is located.
  • Keep the pathway free from clutter that will slow them down when trying to reach the bathroom in time.
  • Keep the door open when the room is not in use.
  • Install rails along the toilet to make it easier for the senior to get up and down.
  • Choose clothing that is easy to remove; Velcro or ties are easier to work with than buttons or snaps.
  • Consider a commode if getting to the toilet in time is impossible.

Manufacturers have designed many aids to help with incontinence problems.  Pads and underwear have been created with special material to absorb leaks and keep the person’s skin dry.  These items can be beneficial for seniors when they go out in public to prevent additional embarrassment.

You can buy waterproof bedding if overnight incontinence is a problem.  Pads for chairs can help protect furniture if seniors have an accident or a leak when they are getting up.

If you are caring for a family member that has had an accident, you will need to clean them up as quickly as possible to keep them from getting sores or chapped skin.  If other people are around, find a discreet way to get your loved one to a bathroom or another quiet location.

Always carry an extra set of clothes if you have regular occurrences to keep the senior dry.  Dispose of the soiled pad and wash the clothing or bedding as soon as possible.  If they are handling their own soiled clothing and changing clothes or bedding themselves, you might want to ask them to let you check the condition of their skin.  Skin can break down quickly from prolonged contact with urine.

You can also provide a special container to place soiled clothing to keep it separate from other laundry.  Use one with a lid to prevent odors from saturating the house.  Do not leave soiled clothing unwashed any longer than necessary and set stains to soak as quickly as you can.

If you have a family member that suffers from regular incontinence, you might want to consider homecare services to assist them.  A trained caregiver can help them get to the bathroom in time and assist them in washing up if they have an accident.  Sometimes it can be easier for the senior to have a professional help them than to accept help from a family member.

Our caregivers at Carefect Homecare Services are trained to handle incontinence issues discreetly while maintaining the dignity of the client.  We can help with personal care and do their laundry and other housekeeping tasks to prevent issues with cleanliness that incontinence can cause.  Sometimes a reminder can help prevent an accident.  If the senior fails to make it to the bathroom in time, we will help them get clean and dry in a professional manner.  This can be easier on them than taking help from their family and will allow them to keep their dignity.