How To Spot Incontinence In Home Care Patients

July 22, 2019

How To Spot Incontinence In Home Care Patients

How To Spot Incontinence In Home Care Patients

Many of us are aware of the prevalence of people affected by incontinence, both in the United States and around the world. While we have shared before that incontinence does NOT discriminate (it affects men and women, young and old), home care patients are often among those affected.  In fact, according to “...when a senior is dealing with the challenges of incontinence, in-home care can be a tremendous support resource, helping preserve dignity and self-esteem.”

Understanding Incontinence

Clearly, many people rely on in-home care. It allows the aging to live where they are most comfortable while providing a significant support system. Appreciating that these individuals may struggle with incontinence is important.  Caregivers must understand that many of them may not be forthcoming about this issue. Let’s face it, incontinence can be humiliating and uncomfortable to discuss.  Concerns regarding possible affiliated health issues as well as feelings of embarrassment can hinder this disclosure.

Identification Tips

Obviously, home care givers must be adept at identifying incontinence. Managing this is a critical component of providing care.  These professionals (or family or friends) can rely on four of their five senses to help identify specific issues.

  • Smell: A home should always smell clean. As a home care provider, you are aware of the every-day smells associated with the home in which you work. You should be able to recognize familiar smells, including cleaning supplies.  If unpleasant odors begin to arise, it may be a sign that clothing or furniture has been soiled.  The smell is the first clue and indicates that it is time to take a a closer look. Check sheets, blankets, furniture, mattresses and clothing to gain more information.
  • Touch:  Wet/damp spots on beds, couches and chairs are a clear sign that someone may be suffering from incontinence, especially when incidents become repetitive.  This could be a sign that the person for whom you care is having trouble making it to the bathroom on time.  It is important to remember that elderly individuals may also have mobility issues which can compound the effects of incontinence.
  • Hearing: Listen to the plans the person you care for makes. Quite often, when older people suffer from incontinence, they tend to limit their excursions because they are more comfortable in familiar surroundings.  They know where bathrooms are and believe they can reach them in time to avoid accidents. It is simply easier to remain at home than to venture out and risk embarrassment. 
  • Sight: If someone for whom you are responsible suddenly seems to be changing his or her clothing throughout the day, he or she may be suffering from incontinence and simply switching outfits so nobody will know. Check hampers and the washing machine to determine if this is the case.

What You Can Do

If you are a home care giver and you suspect incontinence is an issue for the person for whom you care it is important to address the issue appropriately.  You do not want to be confrontational or accusatory. Honestly, if the person for whom you care did not share his or her struggles, he or she is most likely embarrassed and trying to hide the condition.

That being the case,  you can offer some helpful tips to assist in managing incontinence while continuing to lead a quality and enjoyable life. Consider these suggestions:

  • Address The Issue: We know the elderly often suffer from incontinence. That said, addressing the situation personally, in a calm and matter-of-fact manner, can put him or her at ease. Explain that you understand the difficulties faced and that you want to work together to determine solutions.

You can educate those for whom you care (and those with whom you work) on the plethora of items available to help make living with incontinence easier. In addition to incontinence pads and underwear, a broad range of protective items are available for beds, couches and chairs, even recliners. Those you care for may be relieved to learn of the availability of so many things to help.

  • Encourage Speaking With A PhysicianShare with those for whom you care that it is critical to inform physicians about incontinence.  Quite often, a doctor can recommend steps to help to manage these issues.
  • Plan in Advance: If you care for an individual who seems more hesitant about leaving the house, work together to develop a plan to make excursions less worrisome.  Suggest he or she wear protective garments and dark camouflaging clothing. Offer to visit locations in advance to identify the whereabouts of the restrooms. Being prepared is key and knowledge truly is power.  

Maintaining a social life is important for everyone, regardless of age.  Help make it possible for those for whom you are responsible to continue to leave their homes, visit their friends and take excursions whenever possible. It’s good for them physically and emotionally.


Truly, home care providers are the cornerstone in terms of recognizing and often managing a broad range of conditions in their patients.   Incontinence could very well be something they need to address. By using the tips provided for identifying incontinence and leveraging the suggestions for managing this condition, home care providers can truly add value to the lives of those for whom they care.

At LIQUAGUARD® we are proud of the continuous support we provide to our clients suffering from incontinence as well as their families, friends and caregivers. Our products are designed to help them manage this condition and lead a less stressful and more enjoyable and worry free life.  Please visit our website or contact us directly via email or telephone (888-251-4378).