Incontinence Advice For Carers
For the many carers throughout the UK, dealing with incontinence is an extremely common situation. These conditions can have both emotional and practical impact for the person you care for and so can have a large effect on the quality of the life enjoyed, but a few simple steps can make a big difference
- Helping Your loved One Feel Better about Bladder Weakness/Incontinence
- The Importance of Sensitivity
- Managing Incontinence out of the home
Helping Your Loved One Feel Better about Bladder Weakness/Incontinence
Many adults who experience incontinence often feel embarrassed about their condition, Any carer who works closely with incontinent adults can help improve their daily life by making them feel better about their condition. There are a many ways that to help the person you care for feel better about bladder weakness.
Let them know how common it is
Knowing there are others experiencing incontinence and that they’re not alone can make some people feel better about their condition. In fact, about 6 million people in the UK experience bladder weakness or incontinence of some kind.
It can also make the person in your care feel better to know there are a large number of different products available today to meet a multitude of different needs. They are often very discreet to wear and can be purchased easily by mail order or over the internet.
Nothing to Be Ashamed Of
Carers can significantly reduce the emotional concerns over bladder weakness/ incontinence by helping their loved ones feel less ashamed and being sensitive to their concerns.
As a carer, you can make living with the condition less stressful if you are prepared for any incidents that may occur and also for the emotional concerns of the person in your care. Keep a good stock of absorbent products and hygiene products handy for wherever you may need them (and an easy means of disposing of them hygienically) and try not to focus too much on any incident and deal with it in a calm and organized manner.
Avoiding incidents is a simple way to helping your loved one feel better about their condition and minimise the impact on their life. To avert incidents as best as possible take the person you care for to the bathroom regularly (once every couple of hours, or even once every hour). This can be a lot of work for the carer, but it is a good way to maintain dryness and avoid incidents and safe time that is needed to clean up after incidents do occur.
With a lot of understanding and patience, you can help your loved one feel better about incontinence and get back to doing the things they enjoy.
The Importance of Sensitivity
For those who have lived most of their lives independently, needing someone else for basic care can be devastating. One of a carer's most important responsibilities is to help maintain as much dignity as possible. This is especially important when it comes to personal care and toileting issues.
Helping your loved one maintain their dignity should be a priority, and you should try to protect them from embarrassment whenever possible. This can mean helping them find the right products to manage their condition effectively and also helping them seek professional advise to ensure they are aware of what they can do to manage their condition.
If the person you care for is reliant upon you to change their continence products then do it in a matter-of-fact manner (perhaps while discussing something else to avoid focusing on it). Remember they are the same person they always have been and continue to treat them in that way.
Also remember to be sensitive when talking about products the loved one may use. Try to avoid using the word "nappies" or "diapers", and use substitute words such as "pads", "briefs" or "absorbent products." Take care not to discuss their condition and details in front of others, even family.
Try to keep them involved and give them as much control as possible in how their condition is managed. As with any aspect of care, the more the individual is involved in decisions about his or her care, the dignity they can retain.
Also try to maintain good skin care and hygiene by keeping skin as dry and clean as possible. Urine can irritate the skin and can cause rashes, irritation and skin breakdown. Cleanse with washes or wipes when soiling occurs, and apply an emollient lotion or cream to act as a barrier.
Managing Incontinence out of the home
Getting out of the home, visiting friends, family and places of interest are more important for loved ones as well as for carers. But if you care for someone with bladder weakness/ incontinence, any outing can become a worry rather than something to look forward to. Concerns about Bladder Weakness/Incontinence can add stress and worry for either or both of you as this adds complication to the day.
However a few simple steps can take the hassle out of any trip.
If you’re away from home, the biggest concern is always where will you find a toilet. Even if the person you care for is using absorbent pads or undergarments to protect against incidents and leakage, you will still probably need to find a toilet to change and/or dispose of them. Find out about toilet locations and availability before you leave, and if necessary check that they are wheelchair accessible. Often these provide the best location to change as they are larger giving more space and allowing you to close the door giving far more privacy.
Pack a bag
Pack a bag with everything you may need (skin cream, plastic bags for disposal, hand wipes and extra pads and undergarments). A backpack is easy to carry and leaves your hands free to help your loved one get around.
Think about what type of product is best
When choosing which type of continence product is best to use on your outing, consider using a higher absorbency product than usual to give additional security. Pull-up type products can make life simpler if frequent toilet stops are planned.
Before you leave the home, take the person you care for to the toilet and ensure they are ready for the trip with fresh products. You can then assure them they have nothing to worry about. Reassure them that regular toilet stops will be planned as a part of the outing. It’s also worth reminding them of the discretion and odour control of their absorbent pads or briefs so that no-one will notice they’re wearing them.
Once you’re out with your companion, prevent emergencies as best as possible by taking them to the bathroom every hour or so. If you’re in a shop or location that claims the toilets are not for public use, be assertive and explain the urgency of your situation if necessary.
Build up their confidence
Keeping initial outings short can help to build your companion’s confidence in how continence can be managed away from the home. After a few trips to nearby destinations, you will both feel more comfortable about traveling further and for longer periods.