Caring for an aging parent can be an enriching experience for everyone involved, but there are certain factors that can be awkward or complicated to navigate. For many people, incontinence is one of those issues.
Seniors, especially those with cognitive concerns, often struggle with some extent of bowel or bladder incontinence. Knowing the right tips can help you make this issue much easier for both your parents and yourself.
- Always Have Empathy
- Speak to Their Doctors
- Figure Out Any Dietary Triggers
- Choose Appropriate Clothing
- Plan Outings Carefully
- Develop a Bathroom Schedule
- Communicate Openly
1. Always Have Empathy
Dealing with incontinence can be a sensitive and embarrassing situation for most people. If you’re caring for a parent with incontinence, you must always approach the issue with empathy.
Never make them feel like a difficulty or burden because of their incontinence. Instead, reassure them that there is no shame or negative feelings surrounding their incontinence and that you understand their sensitivity surrounding the topic.
2. Speak to Their Doctors
When caring for someone with incontinence, it’s important that you understand why they are having the issue in the first place. There are a wide variety of factors that could cause loss of bowel and bladder control.
From spinal damage to medication use, it’s beneficial to know why your parent has this problem. If it is something that can be amended or minimized, you’ll want to know this. For example, your parent’s doctor may be able to reduce the dosage of a medication causing their incontinence.
3. Figure Out Any Dietary Triggers
Sometimes, incontinence is caused by certain dietary triggers. You will want to look at your parent’s daily diet to see if there is anything that causes their incontinence to worsen.
Common triggers are coffee, tea, spicy foods, or foods that are high in oils and fats. Avoiding these foods and drinks can help minimize instances of bowel and bladder accidents.
4. Choose Appropriate Clothing
If you know that your parent has incontinence, you need to choose appropriate clothing to accommodate their concerns. This means eliminating anything with complicated buttons or zippers that could take too long to remove. Clothing that is too tight should also be avoided.
Ideally, their wardrobe should consist of loose bottoms that can easily be pulled up and down quickly.
You should also consider their undergarments and wearing items made specifically for incontinence. Adult diapers or absorbent underwear can provide added protection for seniors with mild bladder leakage to total incontinence.
5. Plan Outings Carefully
Outings can be tricky for individuals who are incontinent. If you are caring for a parent with incontinence and need to plan an outing or travel, you must take several things into consideration. This includes minimizing long periods in the car or prolonged time without access to a restroom.
When planning an outing, bring an extra set of clothing, adult diapers, and anything else your parent uses to help with their incontinence. While you are away from home, you should also avoid any dietary or other triggers they may have.
6. Develop a Bathroom Schedule
One of the best tips for navigating incontinence is developing a bathroom schedule. Following a schedule with regular bathroom breaks can help minimize the number of accidents that occur.
Consider what times your parents typically have their accidents and schedule a bathroom break for about 20 minutes before that time. This will allow them to empty their bowels or bladder before they reach a point of too much urgency or lose control.
Their schedule will need to be followed closely in order to actually be effective long-term.
7. Communicate Openly
While incontinence can be a sensitive topic, it is important that you are able to communicate with your parents openly about it. Establishing an honest and open dialogue will help you navigate everyday life with incontinence much easier.
It is important that you create a comfortable and safe environment in which your parents feel secure enough to discuss it with you.
Being able to communicate openly will help your parents work with you to establish a bathroom schedule, choose appropriate clothing, and make other informed decisions that can avoid future accidents.
Caring for a Parent with Incontinence
From practicing empathy to identifying triggers, there are many tips you can use to cope with caring for an elderly parent who has become incontinent. If you need further help to care for a senior loved one with loss of bowel or bladder control, you can speak with their medical team or designated senior resources who can help.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.