According to the CDC, roughly half of all older adults live with urinary incontinence. For a senior, incontinence can be messy, uncomfortable, or embarrassing. But cleaning up the messes while trying to minimize accidents can also be a significant source of stress for informal caregivers. If you are assisting an aging loved one with bladder control issues, these incontinence care tips will help keep them more comfortable, confident, and active.
Speak to Their Doctor
Contrary to what you might think, incontinence is not a normal part of aging. Instead, it’s often caused by one or more treatable medical conditions. Once you start noticing signs of incontinence, take your loved one to the doctor for a thorough examination, as it could be a urinary tract infection (UTI) or other treatable condition.
Avoid “Trigger” Foods and Drinks
Many common foods and beverages can trigger incontinence, some of which may surprise you.
Bladder irritants to avoid include:
- Too much or too little fluids
- Coffee, tea, and carbonated drinks
- Spicy foods
- Sugar, honey, and artificial sweeteners
- Certain acidic foods and juices, such as lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits
Stick to a Bathroom Routine
A daily routine is helpful for seniors, notably those with dementia or Alzheimer’s. For someone dealing with incontinence, it’s also a reliable way to get their bodily functions acclimated to going at specific times. Stick to a bathroom schedule by asking your loved one to use the toilet at regular intervals, even if it’s not always needed.
Start by asking them to go every one to two hours. Then, fine-tune their schedule until you find an interval that works best for their body, and then stick to it. After a while, your senior’s body will adjust to the routine, greatly minimizing the likelihood of a messy accident.
Pack an Incontinence Care Kit
Incontinence shouldn’t keep you or your loved one from leaving the house. Before heading out, pack a tote bag with cleanup essentials so you’ll be prepared in case of an accident. Items to include in your incontinence care kit include absorbent pads, incontinence briefs, personal cleansing wipes, and a change of clothes.
Eliminate Any Lingering Odors
Persistent odor is another thing about incontinence that can elevate a caregiver’s stress level. Disinfecting and deodorizing products such as OdoBan will keep rooms smelling fresh.
Waterproof Absorbent Surfaces
When exposed to urine, clothes and bedding can be tossed into the washing machine. But mattresses, couches, and easy chairs cannot be washed so easily. Stay ahead of the problem by waterproofing any furniture your loved one uses frequently.
Spray their favorite couch, mattress, and easy chair with a fabric protector, and then layer them with waterproof seat protectors, oversized absorbent bed pads, or sofa covers.
Use Humor to Ease Tension
The shame, anxiety, and embarrassment that incontinence often cause is stressful for seniors and their caregivers. Treating poor bladder control as a normal part of life will help ease tension. While being respectful, reassure your loved one that it’s “OK” while using a “matter-of-fact” cleanup approach.
For instance, you could say with a smile, “Now we’ve got the perfect excuse to change into your gray pants and shirt. That’s one of your favorite outfits.”
Update Their Wardrobe
Clothing that’s difficult to get on and off can lead to accidents and make it harder to clean up afterward. Reduce stress by updating your senior’s wardrobe, including pants with elastic waistbands. Avoid clothes with tricky zippers, tight openings, or multiple fasteners. If their needs are more urgent, find them adaptive clothing that’s stylish and discreet.
Seek Professional Help
For one reason or another, you may not be able to provide the incontinence care your aging loved one needs. When that happens, a professional in-home caregiver can step in and assist them with personal hygiene and toileting needs.
Flexible In-Home Personal Care for Seniors in Cape Coral
When you or your loved one need assistance, contact Home Instead. We are a fully licensed and insured home care provider with highly trained professionals who are experts at delivering the nurturing your loved one deserves. While serving as an extended family in your senior’s home, our compassionate caregivers can perform duties like light housekeeping, personal care, dementia care, companionship care, medication reminders, and even live-in and 24-hour care.
Our agency’s focus is maintaining your loved one’s quality of life, along with their dignity, self-esteem, and independence. For your added convenience, all our in-home services can be individually personalized into an affordable package when and where you need them! Please visit us now to learn more about us or schedule a FREE initial consultation for a senior in our service area.