Incontinence might be one of the most difficult issues you will face when caring for an aging parent or loved one. Being understandable and acceptable of the situation will make the loved one that is encountering the issue feel more at peace with the situation. Many people with incontinence issues withdraw from public activities because they worry about accidents. Incontinence has an emotional effect and we want to ensure that while our elders are facing loss of control that we are doing everything in our power to make them understand that they have not lost their dignity.
It is estimated to affect one out of every three Americans over the age of 65, women twice as often as men (due to loosening of the urethra through childbirth).
Helpful facts to help with incontinence:
Provide fluids. Make sure your elder drinks plenty of fluids, at least six and a half cups a day. Strange as it may sound, limiting fluid intake can actually make the problem worse as it results in more concentrated urine which can cause irritation and lead to serious illness.
Plan ahead. Schedule trips to the bathroom, particularly before going to bed.
Encourage exercise. However light, exercise stimulates circulation and keeps the body from becoming too sluggish.
Dietary changes. Some foods and beverages are known to make incontinence worse. Avoid caffeine, spicy foods, alcohol and tomatoes.
Check medications. Some medications can encourage or even cause incontinence.
Urinary incontinence can be coped with by using adult absorbency pads.
Covering the pads with regular underwear helps a person feel less childlike. Be sure to change incontinence underwear often, keep skin clean and use lotions and powders (or cornstarch) to protect the skin.
If you are able to work together as a team, incontinence should provide little disruption to a normal day.
Taking these steps will help to avoid falls in your home or in the home of your loved one. Taking these steps will provide a level of confidence in your home.
Let’s discuss the most common risk factors in falling they are: inaccurate perceptions, medication side affects, memory loss/impaired judgment, diminished control of body, prior falls, environment hazards, flooring problems, poorly maintained equipment, and social isolation.
Steps to take to avoid falls:
- Remove Environmental Hazards: any rugs on the floor and furniture on wheels—remove;
- Footwear: Avoid shoes with slippery or rubber sole; avoid too much cushioning;
- Obtain Needed Equipment: Install grab bars, raised toilet seats, toilet seat handrails and stair handrails. Make sure the rails are adjusted to the proper height and comfortable to use;
- Have a professional review all drugs to identify any potential interactions and side effects; take as few drugs as possible; avoid having multiple physicians order medications without consultations with each other;
- Have regular eye and hearing exams;
- Have a daily exercise regimen to keep muscles and joints flexible and moving;
- Have lighting without too much glare or shadows; use night lights; keep stairways well-lit; use higher-wattage bulbs;
- Store items at a convenient height; move frequently used kitchen items to lower shelves and cabinets; if necessary, use a stepladder with extra-wide treads and easy to grab supports;
- Raise dish washers, microwave ovens and clothes dryers a few inches to make it easier to load and unload items;
- Obtain bells for pets to prevent them for getting underfoot without your awareness;
- Keep nighttime temperatures greater than 65 degrees to prevent joint stiffness and grogginess;