Senior citizens need extra care and attention in almost all aspects of their life; that is a given. That’s why we have special caretakers for elderly people in our homes; people who are willing and available at all times to cater to the needs of the elderly.
Sometimes it is the senior citizen’s family members and loved ones that decide to be the permanent caregivers.
However, there’s one aspect that even such caregivers are hesitant to address and that is incontinence. For family members this is especially true when the elderly person is a parent.
Considering the personal nature of the issue and the embarrassment involved for the elderly person often make it difficult to manage. This can cause undue stress and depression among them. Hence it is very important to manage the issue at any cost in a way that the elderly patient is comfortable.
According to Susan McLaren of Halo Healthcare, incontinence issues have to be managed with extra compassion, patience and love. Only if the caregiver is able to create a comfortable environment for the senior person that the problem can be managed effectively.
So here are 5 ways in which elderly incontinence can be better managed at home.
Have an open conversation and relieve the elderly person of any inhibitions
As mentioned before, one of the most important steps in managing an incontinence problem is to first talk about it to the senior person and find out how it’s bothering them. Make them aware that it is a common and controllable issue and that they are not alone. Also reassure them that you’re there to help and that they needn’t feel embarrassed or worried about the issue.
For senior citizens who may be suffering from mental or neurodegenerative disorders like dementia or Alzheimer’s, this kind of a conversation may not be possible. In such cases, you may have to constantly remind them that you’re there to help them deal with their issue.
Have them perform light Kegel exercises
Kegel exercises basically help tighten and release the muscles that are responsible for controlling the urinary bladder. Regular practice of simple Kegel exercises can help strengthen the pelvic muscles, which would provide the senior with better endurance in relation to their bladder and allow them to hold the urge to urinate for a longer period of time.
Make sure that prescribed medications and products are taken and used properly
There are a number of incontinence supplies and products available in the market to help seniors tackle their problem, such as adult diapers. In case you are at a loss as to what kind of product to use, there are a number of online guides and directories to direct you to the right sources.
Additionally, it is important to seek the doctor’s help for a patient of incontinence, as the causes may be diverse. You need to first understand the causes of the issue and make sure that the patient takes the prescribed medications promptly.
Educate the seniors about their body nature and signals regarding the incontinence
You can try and observe and study the senior’s bodily signals in relation to their bladder and bowel movements. With this, you can educate the senior himself or herself about their signals and possible allow them to be more aware and in control of their body. With time, this will help strengthen the pelvic muscles as well.
For patients of amnesia or dementia, you can prepare charts and document your observations so as to help them learn more about their leakage times and bladder movements.
Make sure that the senior consumes a clean and healthy diet
There are several bad habits or dietary habits that cause and sometimes invigorate the issue of incontinence, such as consumption of alcohol, caffeinated drinks, spicy foods, highly carbonated beverages and highly acidic foods like citrus fruits and peppers. These kinds of foods are considered as bladder irritants and should be avoided as much as possible.
Additionally, make sure that the person consumes the most nutritious food at all times.
Also, you can help the person follow a fixed routine regarding meals as well as bathroom visits. You could advise the senior to use the bathroom every few hours and see if it helps.
Make sure the bathroom is in easy reach
Last but not least, make sure that the bathroom is in close reach for the senior, with no obstacles in front. Make sure that any tables or chairs or even tiny things like zippers or buttons strewn on the floor are not in the way to the bathroom.
In addition, make the surroundings more positive and fresh for the senior as well, by using air fresheners and making sure their clothes and other belongings are washed at all times.