Studies have shown that about 50% of older adults have some form of incontinence. For most, it can be an uncomfortable, messy, or embarrassing situation to manage.
Incontinence can also be a major source of stress for caregivers who try to minimize accidents and clean up the messes.
To reduce stress and mess for both seniors and caregivers, here are 9 helpful incontinence care tips.
1. Talk with their doctor
Despite popular misconceptions, incontinence isn’t a normal part of aging. It’s often caused by common and treatable medical conditions.
If you notice ongoing signs of incontinence, take your older adult to the doctor for a thorough examination to figure out if they have a UTI infection or other treatable condition.
2. Watch out for certain foods or drinks
Did you know that many common foods and drinks can trigger incontinence? Many of these triggers and bladder irritants are things that we’d never think of.
The Mayo Clinic has compiled this list of common bladder irritants:
- Too little fluids
- Too much fluids
- Coffee, tea, and carbonated drinks – with and without caffeine
- Certain acidic fruits, like oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes, and acidic fruit juices
- Spicy foods
- Tomatoes and tomato-based products – even ketchup
- Sugar, honey, and artificial sweeteners
To manage their incontinence, encourage your older adult to drink an adequate amount of fluids and minimize trigger foods and drinks.
Not everyone’s bladder will be sensitive to the same trigger foods or drinks. If many of these items are part of your older adult’s regular diet, try removing or reducing one item at a time to try to improve their incontinence symptoms.
3. Stick to a bathroom schedule
A regular daily bathroom routine is helpful for older adults, especially those dealing with Alzheimer's or dementia. It’s also a good way to get their bodily functions accustomed to going at certain times.
Create a bathroom schedule by asking your older adult to use the toilet at regular intervals (even just to “try”). Start by asking them to go every 1 or 2 hours. Experiment to find the timing that works best for their body. Soon, they will get used to the schedule, helping to reduce the chances of having an accident.
4. Waterproof the mattress, chairs and sofa
Accidents leave a smelly mess on clothes as well as on furniture. Cleaning up is an important issue in incontinence care. Clothes and bedding can be easily thrown into the washing machine. But it’s stressful and difficult to clean and deodorize something like a mattress or easy chair. To reduce stress, you can get ahead of the problem and make cleanup easier by waterproofing plush furniture with washable or disposable underpads (chux).
5. Create an incontinence kit
Traveling, even short distances, can be a challenge with a loved one who suffers from Incontinence; however, it doesn’t mean that you and your loved one can’t leave the house. It's easy to pack a tote bag with clean-up essentials so you’ll always be prepared in case of an accident. Be sure to include extra incontinence briefs or pads, cleansing wipes, and a change of clothes and socks.
6. Choose clothing that is easy to change and launder
Clothing that’s hard to get on and take off could be causing accidents. This type of clothing also makes it difficult to get cleaned up afterward.
Many clothing items found at major retailer stores will work just fine for individuals who suffer from incontinence. Try to avoid clothes with multiple fastenings (i.e. button-fly pants), clasps, zippers, or tight openings.
Pants with an elastic waistband are an ideal option. They are quicker and easier to put on and take off. Elastic waistbands will help your loved one get to the toilet quickly while avoiding an accident. Plus, elastic waistbands are much easier to manage if they need assistance to dress and undress.
7. Get help with choosing the right incontinence products
Choosing the right absorbent products that are designed to address different levels of incontinence is key to successfully managing incontinence. Count on the team at Rely Medical Supply to help you select the right incontinence products to help you address the needs of your loved one and keep him or her confident and dry.
We're here to help. Call Rely Medical Supply today toll-free at 1-888-529-2308. Our phones are answered from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Central Standard Time. Our helpful and compassionate product experts are trained to help you select the right incontinence products based on individual needs.