As caregivers, we embrace our role in helping our elderly loved ones. Our goal is to preserve the quality of life of our loved ones as they deal with the onset of age-related health and physical conditions. We stand by their side, encouraging them to proudly pursue an active, happy lifestyle. Through personal care, housekeeping, meal preparation, supervision and companionship, we make a difference in their lives.
One condition commonly faced by the elderly is urinary incontinence. It’s a struggle for both caregivers and loved ones to manage. With a proactive approach to managing urinary incontinence at home, we can help our loved ones rediscover confidence and comfort.
Managing Elderly Urinary Incontinence at Home
Understanding the Cause of Urinary Incontinence: Contrary to popular belief, incontinence is not a typical symptom of aging. Medical conditions, certain medications and other circumstances may all cause urinary incontinence in an elderly person. Women with weakened pelvic muscles, men with enlarged prostate glands, and elderly people with impaired mobility who are unable to reach the toilet in time may all experience the struggles of urinary incontinence.
Different medical conditions may lead to different types of urinary incontinence. Menopause may cause stress incontinence. Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease may lead to urge incontinence. Diabetes may result in overflow incontinence and seniors with dementia who forget to use the restroom may experience functional incontinence. Regardless of the cause, comfort your loved one with the reminder that urinary incontinence is a symptom that can be effectively managed with the various aids available on the market.
Stocking Up on Incontinence Supplies: Caregivers need the right supplies to effectively manage urinary incontinence at home. The first is protective underwear. There are many types of protective underwear, from moisture-absorbing, washable panties and briefs to waterproof, unisex cover-ups. Talk with your loved one about urinary incontinence to find the most comfortable product for their unique needs.
You also want to stock up on incontinence supplies that prevent odor as well as damage to furniture. Disposable or reusable underpads discreetly protect mattresses, chairs and wheelchairs. Waterproof sheeting protects beds and mattresses, helping your loved one sleep comfortably at night. There are excellent incontinence aids on the market that prevent leaks and odors, helping your loved one enjoy a more normal life.
Modifying the Home Environment: Urinary incontinence is a sensitive situation. As a caregiver, one of your most important roles is making using the bathroom an easier experience. You can start with ensuring a clear, quick path to the bathroom by removing any obstacles along the way. Air fresheners and self-cleaning products may also make the bathroom experience less embarrassing for your loved one.
Handrails, raised toilet seats and bedside commodes also help ease your loved one into the bathroom experience. The urge to go often comes without warning, so trade clothing with zippers, buttons and intricate closures for pants with velcro, snaps or an elastic waist. A consistent schedule also helps minimize accidents. Schedule regular bathroom visits every 2 to 4 hours, even if your loved one doesn’t feel the urge to go.
Taking Additional Measures: Caregivers can do even more to help a loved one manage urinary incontinence at home. For example, minimize the consumption of foods that trigger incontinence. Caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, spicy foods, carbonated beverages, citrus and high acidity foods can all worsen your loved one’s urinary incontinence. Keeping a bladder diary, complete with food and fluid intake and bathroom visits per day, can help you gain insight into your loved one’s worst food-related triggers.
In your role as caregiver you can help your loved ones live the same lifestyle they enjoyed before the onset of urinary incontinence and other age-related conditions. Together, with the help of these tips, you and your loved one can more effectively and efficiently manage urinary incontinence at home.