Incontinence in Elderly Patients: Tips for Caregivers

July 20, 2015
Incontinence in elderly loved ones presents challenges.

Incontinence in elderly loved ones presents challenges.

Those caring for elderly individuals suffering from incontinence face many challenges, and it’s important that caregivers have the appropriate information to meet these difficulties. If someone you know and love battles incontinence, check out the tips below.

Doctor assessment

Elderly patients frequently find incontinence personally humiliating. As a result, many prefer to ignore the issue and may not discuss it with their doctors. It often falls to home caregivers to take the first step of introducing the issue with a doctor, and for such caregivers, handling the situation with tact and care is vital.

Treatment & Tips

After an assessment, a doctor may recommend a number of options that may help manage incontinence. The caregiver is likely to play a role in seeing that the patient follows the prescribed treatment.

If you are a caregiver facing such a situation, keep in mind the following:

  • Tact is important. It’s essential that the caregiver and the patient have an open communication about incontinence and its treatment, but it’s also important that the caregiver tread lightly on what is often a tender subject.
  • Patience is also essential. Accidents happen. Remain calm and keep in mind the value of not adding to the shame that the patient feels.
  • Be self-aware. The patient is likely not the only one embarrassed or made uncomfortable by the incontinence. Accept this.
  • Keep supplies on hand. Often elderly patients who suffer from incontinence requires adult pad or other supplies; however, caregivers also needs supplies, such as rubber gloves, skin cleansers, paper towels, sanitizers, barrier creams, and plenty of toilet paper. Moist towelettes are also a big help in many cases.
  • Keep the patient clean. After an episode, the patient’s skin will need to be washed and dried; use an appropriately mild soap and dry the skin gently with a soft towel. Barrier cream may be necessary to make sure that a rash or other irritation does not develop.
  • Remember the importance of handwashing. Caregivers also need to wash their own hands thoroughly after an episode. This is advisable even if the caregiver wears gloves during the clean-up process.
  • Dispose of materials appropriately. Have a system for disposing of gloves and other materials used during clean-up. Flushing gloves or pads is not recommended, as this may likely cause clogging in the pipes.

Helping a loved one with incontinence can be challenging; caregivers should not be afraid to consult with a doctor for advice on how to manage this challenge.

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