According to the National Association for Continence, one in five individuals over the age of 40 suffer from overactive bladder or urgency symptoms, some of whom leak urine before reaching a restroom. In the nursing home population in the UK, at least 50 percent of residents are reported to have urinary incontinence.
Elderly urinary incontinence can take several forms. Some people may only leak urine occasionally, others may constantly dribble urine, while others may experience a complete lack of both bladder and bowel control. However severe a person’s incontinence is, it is important to never forget that there are things you can do to make their life easier. “Incontinence is a common part of ageing, but it is never normal,” claims Dr Lisa Rosenberg, M.D, of the University of Pittsburgh’s geriatric department. She asserts, “Because it is so common, people think that they should accept it”. However, as well as encouraging treatment methods to incontinent individuals, you can improve the quality of life in incontinent individuals by learning how to take care of them.
Here are the steps you can take for looking after an elderly person with incontinence:
Encourage an appointment with a specialist
Your loved one may feel embarrassed by his or her accidents and avoid scheduling a doctor’s appointment. Often, elderly people may not be able to recognise the severity of their problem themselves or realise the importance of seeing a professional. Often, they may even be unsure of who to see and how to contact them. A Doctor can help to recognise both the underlying cause of the incontinence and suggest treatment methods for your loved one. If the elderly individual feels comfortable with his or her primary care doctor, start there. Women can also find a urogynecologist while men could visit a urologist; either can see a geriatrician. Often, you can locate nurse practitioners who specialise in incontinence issues.
Whichever professional you decide to visit, you should expect the following from a visit:
- A urinalysis. This rules out any infection or blood in the urine
- A thorough discussion of one’s medical history
- Blood tests. Blood tests can check on kidney function, calcium and glucose levels
- A complete physical exam. This includes a rectal exam and a pelvic exam for women and a urological exam for men
Help them to create a bladder diary
Often, a patient will be asked to bring a bladder diary to the first visit to a Doctor or other professional. In this journal, patients are recommended to write about when they urinate, how much they urinate and describe their accidents. A bladder diary can also help in ensuring someone with incontinence is aware of the food or drink which worsens their condition.
Invest in the appropriate toilet aids
If a person you are looking after is immobile or has problems reaching the toilet on time, it is useful to invest in toilet aids to provide them with more confidence.
Useful toilet aids include the following:
Toilet aid frames are non-slip frames that will make going to the toilet easier. The frames allow you to balance yourself while using the toilet. The frame will also help you get up and down off the toilet if you find standing and sitting hard.
Shop our range of toilet aid frames here.
Our range of toilet aids will make life easier for those who have limited mobility and want to manage their incontinence condition with dignity and ease.
If you have trouble walking and find it difficult to reach the toilet, then we have a selection of toilet aids that will make life that little bit easier when managing your incontinence.
You can visit our mobility handrails here if you feel they will benefit your loved one.
Commodes are portable toilets that can be used in any room of the house and the contents disposed of down your toilet.
Static commodes do not have wheels and can be carried to whichever room you need. The mobile commode has wheels with breaks and can be pushed around the home. Both products can be emptied without moving them as the pan that collects the waist is removable.
You can find commodes on website here.
Urinals and Bed Pans
Bedpans and urinals are invaluable accessories for those who cannot get out of a bed to use a standard toilet. There is a large range of products you can find in the market which includes regular, bariatric and fracture bedpans. The range includes urinals for men and women as well as a urinal kit for those who dribble frequently and portable urinals for those who travel.
Identify the Type of Incontinence your loved one has
In order to assist an elderly person in buying the correct pads and pants, it is vital to be aware of the different types of incontinence before you shop for them.
The main types of incontinence are as follows:
> Stress incontinence– this is when urine leaks out at times when your bladder is under pressure; for example, when you cough or laugh. Stress incontinence can often be managed through the use of incontinence pads or pants with a low absorbency rating. Incontinence pads available are specially shaped to fit either a women’s or a man’s body. These give you protection where you need it most and are available in a range of sizes and absorbencies. There are also unisex pads that can be used by either a man or a woman. The majority of pads for stress incontinence are discreet and can be worn with your normal underwear.
> Urge incontinence– urge incontinence is when urine leaks as you feel a sudden, intense urge to pass urine, or soon afterwards. Pads with a high absorbency level and Pull Ons are useful products for managing urge incontinence.
> Overflow incontinence(chronic urinary retention) – when you’re unable to fully empty your bladder, which causes frequent leaking. Adult briefs and maximum protection products are recommended for managing overflow incontinence.
> Total incontinence- this is the severest type of incontinence and it is marked by complete loss of control over urinary bladder resulting in a constant urine leakage. Maximum absorbency pads and pull up pants are recommended for managing severe incontinence. Booster pads can also be used if needed to fit inside protective underwear or briefs an additional layer of protection.
> Bowel incontinence- bowel incontinence is usually caused by a physical problem with the parts of the body that control the bowel.
The most common problems are:
> Problems with the rectum – the rectum is unable to retain poo properly until it’s time to go to the toilet
> Problems with the sphincter muscles –the muscles at the bottom of the rectum don’t work properly
> Nerve damage – the nerve signals sent from the rectum don’t reach the brain
Products for faecal incontinence include shaped pads, all-in-ones and pull-ups for both men and women. Pull-ups and all-in-ones are recommended for moderate to severe faecal incontinence because they offer a higher absorbency and more security than a pad.
You can shop our range of incontinence pads and pants to provide your loved one with confidence here.