Everyone gets old one day. Our bones more brittle, our muscles weaker, our reflexes dull, and our bodies seemingly function outside our control. Incontinence or the involuntary secretion of urine/bowels is one of the most under reported medical conditions in the world. One can understand why someone would not want to make such a condition known but the fact of the matter is that it is most often a treatable condition that resulted from another. Incontinence is a common side effect of disorders like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, spina bifida, or even an enlarged prostate in the case of men. It has also been found that strokes and spinal cord injuries can interfere with nerve function of the bladder. It is definitely easier for a person to be more open and willing to discuss incontinence if they understand that a disease or injury caused it and not that it is just their body giving out. Nonetheless, incontinence can still occur in the elderly in more minor cases but the sad truth is most people are too proud to admit they may have a problem. Here are some tips to helping an elder loved one deal with incontinence whether it is the result of another disorder, it's treatment, or just the effects of a withering body.
1. Discourage Drinks that Stimulate the Bladder
Drinks that contain alcohol, caffeine, or soda should be avoided. These drinks not only put more tax on the kidneys and liver but they are more difficult for the bladder to hold.
2. Understand and Work with Their Limitations
If your loved one suffers from a physical disability or a disorder that affects their central nervous system as well as their physical movements like Parkinson's, make sure they have a way of getting to a toilet in quick time. A caregiver such as an assisted living professional or family member could help the person get themselves into the restroom. Another option is for the person to wear a form of incontinence underwear or tena pads in case they do not make it in time.
3. Talk to Them One on One and Develop Strategy
Our elders never want to be a burden to their families, nor are they usually willing to risk dignity to get treatment a lot of the time. However, if you as a family member or assigned caregiver approach them and ask them how they best want to deal with the issue they will feel like they are still the ones helping their own condition rather than being someone else's burden. Plan to have them go to the bathroom for a certain amount of time immediately after eating or drinking. Get them into a routine where you and they can better predict bowel movements or urination.
4. Healthy Diet
The healthier the diet of the person, the easier it can be for them to control their incontinence and allow you to help them. Healthier beverages such as fruit juice and water are much easier on the organs to pass through the body. Foods that are rich in fiber encourage smooth bowel movements and can help regulate the time for appropriate desired secretion. Avoid foods with an abundance of saturated fat such as fried foods and sweets as they are not always easy to digest and can make for more unpredictable bowel movements.
One day we will all be old and slightly less capable of taking care of ourselves. It is important to always take care of our less fortunate loved ones and let them know that their health afflictions, no matter how unflattering, must be addressed in the most effective possible way.
Martha June Whitman is a former geriatric healthcare provider who enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience in her writing for poise pads supplier, National Incontinence.