Monday, June 17, 2013

10 Tips for Incontinence Care

A few years ago, an eldercare speaker asked the audience to name the No. 1 reason given by family when placing someone in an assisted living unit. The answer surprised some: incontinence.
If you or someone you are caring for is struggling with incontinence, are some suggestions from expert Nicole Davis of the Family Caregiver Alliance. They come from a webinar Nicole gave several months ago.
  1. Schedule toileting to get ahead of leakages. Toileting by the clock takes a lot of patience and time. Visit the toilet every 2-3 hours (never longer than 3 hours), starting with first thing in the morning upon waking up. This means taking a visit even if a loved one doesn’t want to go. Praise them when they do – whether they urinate or not.
  2. Toilet after meals and bedtime. Along the same lines as scheduling by the clock, you also want to make sure you primarily visit the bathroom after breakfast, lunch, dinner and just before bedtime.
  3. Check every two or three hours and encourage a loved one to keep their incontinence pad dry during that time. Praise if it’s dry but do not mention it if it’s wet.
  4. Make the bathroom inviting – and safe. Have handrails available where needed and promote privacy when you can. Sometimes running water in the sink works to get things flowing. Soothing music might work too.
  5. Stop drinking fluids two hours prior to bedtime. The current recommended daily fluid intake for women is 90 ounces for men and 120 ounces for women. It’s important that everyone stays properly hydrated to avoid the risk of bladder infections and constipation. Fiber is great to induce a bowel movement, but if fiber is not taken with enough water, it sits like cement in the gut. Chances are, this tip means no drinking after mealtime.
  6. Avoid caffeine and caffeinated foods. Caffeine is a known bladder irritant and diuretic, and our sensitivity to the substance can change with age and diet.
  7. Use hypoallergenic baby wipes for a more thorough cleaning and avoid rubbing and scrubbing, which can irritate skin. Use a moisture barrier, such as lanolin, petroleum jelly or zinc oxide, to protect skin from irritants.
  8. Consider ways to pay for incontintent costs. Medicare and private insurers typically do not pay for such costs unless incontinence is in a medical diagnosis. VA does cover such costs and Medicaid may as well in some situations. If you order in bulk, choose hospital grade so that you get your money’s worth in terms of quality.
  9. Be realistic. There will be good days and bad days. Improvements may also be small, particularly if someone is advancing in the stages of dementia.
  10. Visit the National Association for Continence at to learn more and find more resources.

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