Incontinence in elderly loved ones is not an uncommon occurrence, but it can create specific challenges for home caregivers. For those dealing with incontinence in elderly patients, it pays to be prepared and to know how to handle issues that arise.
The National Association for Continence estimates that 20% of individuals over the age of 40 experience some form of what might be classified as incontinence issues. The rate tends to go up with age, so elderly people are even more likely to have some urinary issues.
The following tips can help caregivers dealing with incontinence in elderly loved ones.
- Keep track of a loved one’s bathroom habits and see if a pattern develops. If one does, be proactive and suggest going to the restroom at times when bladder activity seems likely to be imminent.
- Make the path to the bathroom easy to navigate. Remove likely obstacles and keep night lights on along the path as needed.
- Use a portable commode in the bedroom if nighttime trips to the bathroom are difficult to manage.
- When going out (to a restaurant, a store, etc.), make sure to locate the bathroom so that time is not lost finding it when the need arises. In a restaurant, try to be seated within easy reach of the restroom.
- Place reusable waterproof pads in the bed underneath the sheets, and be sure to wash them promptly when they become damp.
- Travel with appropriate supplies. This includes a complete change of clothing as well as cleaning products.
- If zippers or buttons impede lowering of garments as needed, consider clothing with Velcro or with elastic waistbands.
- Some clothing recommended for use with incontinent individuals may result in skin irritation or rashes. Be sure to keep plenty of skin moisturizers and other appropriate treatments nearby.
- When assisting in a clean-up, wear disposable gloves (such as those worn in doctor’s offices). Be sure to dispose of the gloves after one use and to wash hands after disposing of the gloves.
Incontinence in elderly patients can be challenging, but being well prepared enables caregivers to be ahead of the game.