Incontinence is more common than you might think. 30% of people over the age of 60 suffer from either urinary incontinence or some form of involuntary urine leakage. It can range from the occasional dribble of urine to full loss and control of the bladder.
If you know someone elderly in your family experiencing incontinence you should be sensitive in discussing the problem. Many elderly people are so embarrassed that they do not even tell their health care provider. Some feel incontinence is normal and is not a major problem. So make sure you discuss the problem with extra love and care. Whether the incontinence is severe or mild, the elderly should be seen by a doctor. Often if incontinence is cause by a medical problem it can be treated. Incontinence is almost always treatable and often curable!
Here's how you can help:
1. Have the elderly person evaluated by a doctor. Again, it doesn't matter how big or small the problem might appear.
2. Encourage bladder training and bladder exercises.
3. Help get the elderly person on a bathroom schedule.
4. Make the bathroom easily accessible.
5. Encourage the elderly to make appropriate changes to their diet to limit constipation. Making changes to fluid intake can help as well.
6. Use incontinence products in home to make accidents less embarrassing for the elderly.
Before speaking with the elderly person it's always a good idea to map out any roadblocks you might have. For example, is this person likely to listen to your opinion and cooperate? Will you need anyone additional to join the conversation? It's important to not overwhelm the elderly as this will make it harder to get them to accept they need to see a doctor. Make sure you plan out your next steps to avoid making the situation worse.
Incontinence can be emotionally draining for both the caregiver and the elderly person. Always remember to discuss the problem with the most tact and sensitivity you possibly can!