Alright, if you’re reading this you’ve probably found yourself having to deal with a rather sensitive subject. When it comes to taking care of elderly parents, incontinence is probably in the top 5 hardest things to deal with. At the end of the day though, we’re all human. And we can only hope that our own children will realize that when we start experiencing the less pleasant effects of aging.
To help you and your parents cope with this common, albeit awkward condition, we’ve put together a few tips of our own.
1. Get proper protection.
First off, you’re going to want to have them toss that Costco underwear in exchange for something a bit more suitable. For the sake of this discussion, let’s just call a spade a spade and accept that proper protection against incontinence means having to wear an adult diaper. When discussing options with your parents however, try to stick with more item-specific terms, such as briefs or pads.
Wearing proper underwear is going to make accidents much easier to deal with, while helping to keep your parent’s dignity in-tact.
If your parent is only dealing with light bladder leakage, they might be able to get away with a simple pad or guard.
2. Dress for the occasion.
The last thing someone dealing with incontinency wants is to have to fumble with a button or belt. Pants with elastic waists or Velcro fasteners make them a lot easier and quicker to remove.
3. Make a habit out of going to the bathroom.
This is more of a preventative tactic. With incontinence, the need to go to the bathroom can sneak up pretty quickly. Making frequent, scheduled bathroom breaks throughout the day can help to catch an accident before it happens. This also will give your parent the opportunity to empty their bladder and bowels before they reach a “tipping point.”
4. Going to the bathroom should be walk in the park.
Ensure your parents can access and use the bathroom quickly. Depending on their physical abilities, you may want to equip their bathroom with safety equipment, such as a grab bar to hold on to, or a raised toilet seat to make it easier to sit and stand up from the toilet. If using the toilet has become problematic, a commode can also be used. Keep one in their bedroom for emergencies.
It’s also helpful to keep the bathroom door open whenever it’s not in use. A closed door might cause your parent hesitation, which is the last thing anybody wants when mother nature is calling.
5. Be prepared when out and about.
If you happen to be out of the house, make sure both you and your parent know where the nearest restroom is. The last thing either of you wants is to have to run around frantically looking for a restroom sign.
You may also want to bring along some backup supplies, like extra briefs or pads, as well as a change of clothing.
6. Use waterproof bedding and absorbent mattress pads
Bedwetting is inevitable. To make life easier for whoever happens to be doing the cleaning, get your parents a waterproof underpad. This will protect the mattress from stains and make it a lot easier to clean up. Waterproof duvet covers and pillowcases are also available.
One thing you’ll definitely want to do is have your parent check in with their health care provider. There may be an underlying medical condition that is causing their incontinency, and could potentially be treatable.
To wrap this up, let me just reiterate that we’re all human. Put yourself in your parent’s shoes when helping them deal with this less-than-ideal circumstance, ‘cause you may very well be in the same situation in the future. Losing control of bodily functions is a very hard thing to deal with, so try to put your parents at ease. In fact, this is probably one of those times that I’d recommend showing them you don’t care. Accidents happen. Shrug it off and move on.