Taking care of someone with a health condition is not only the right thing to do, but also a huge responsibility. There’s nothing better than the joy one feels when they are able to bring a smile to the face of a troubled individual, especially a family member or close friend, by helping them live a better life. There are many health conditions that can ruin one’s mobility, leaving them bedridden or unable to carry out day-to-day tasks, without needing assistance.
Incontinence is one such health condition. When a person loses the ability to control their bladder or bowel movements, it is referred to as urinary or bowel incontinence, respectively. Being a caretaker for someone suffering from bowel or urinary incontinence is exactly like taking care of a toddler, as they might have mobility issues. Sometimes, it might get annoying or frustrating. Hence, it is important to be prepared for all possible hassles that come along with this condition, and be patient enough not to let the feeling of annoyance take its toll on you. Fighting incontinence involves three major phases - Acceptance, Treatment, and Management.
Here are some tips for each phase, on how to help someone facing incontinence:
"Encourage them to be vocal and positive."
Embarrassment is a common feeling among people suffering from incontinence, due to the stigma associated with it. As a result, it might get difficult for the person to come to terms with it. And, even if they accept it, they might hide it from their friends or family members. Being overly confidential about it may lead to certain changes in their lifestyle, like lack of confidence to go out and frustration, thereby leaving them depressed or stressed out.
As a thoughtful caretaker, one should encourage the patient to be ‘shamelessly vocal’ about what they go through physically as well as mentally; but also to have a positive attitude throughout the treatment. You can help the patient normalize the situation, with a little sense of humour.
"Consult a doctor for guidance."
This step has to be taken to figure out what treatment or medications the patient must opt for. The treatment is largely dependent on the type of incontinence, its severity, the patient’s mental health, and the root causes of incontinence. In some cases, it might not be treatable. However, the only way you can determine whether one’s incontinence issue is treatable or not, is to speak with the doctor.
In addition, if you have any doubts or if the patient’s urine pattern or bladder start showing any negative signs, immediately ask for the doctor’s guidance, in order to understand the right steps to be taken.
"If the incontinence issue one suffers from is not treatable, the only option left is to manage it by incorporating certain lifestyle changes."
1. Choose the Right Clothes
Choosing the right clothes for the patient, including underpads, and changing their clothes on a timely basis, is essential. Choose clothing that is dark in colour and slightly loose, so that the person feels the desired comfort, without worrying about their appearance. Moreover, the idea is to choose clothes that can be taken off or worn easily. So, if the patient has severe mobility issues, choose taped adult diapers.
2. Manage their fluid intake and diet
There are certain foods and drinks that make the issue of incontinence worse, like spicy foods, excess Vitamin C, citrus fruits, carbonated drinks, and alcohol. Ensure that the patient’s fluid intake and diet are not only managed properly, but are also devoid of the foods and drinks that catalyze incontinence.
3. Always carry an incontinence kit
Just because someone suffers from incontinence, does not mean that they should not go out or have a social life. So, being a good caretaker also means taking the patient out for a ride or on a trip, while carrying a proper incontinence kit. It should comprise of tape/ pant adult diapers with high absorbency, extra towels, plastic bags, catheters, cleansing wipes, disposable gloves, skin lotion, fresh clothes, and extra undergarments.
4. Schedule their toilet visits
Schedule the patient’s toilet visits in such a way that they subconsciously develop a habit of urinating every 2.5-4 hours. Besides that, you should also assess toilet visibility and accessibility, particularly at night hours.
5. Ensure the room is rid of bad odours
The surrounding environment certainly affects one’s mindset. So, ensure that the patient’s room is always devoid of bad odours and has a pleasant smell. Use fragrance sticks or air perfumes, or simply install an aroma dispenser machine in the room. Interestingly, one can also go for adult diapers with an odour lock feature, which means it minimizes the existence of the bacteria that causes bad odour and ensures the person does not smell unpleasant, in any way.
Understanding incontinence is the best way to be a good caretaker. Get a good grasp of the issue, so that you can maintain an attitude that helps the patient in a positive manner. People suffering from incontinence are prone to psychological issues, like depression, anxiety and stress. In such situations, it is good to understand what is bothering them and try to have a constructive dialogue with them. At the back of a caretaker’s mind, there must be a consideration that the patient, sometimes, might need emotional support as well. So, they should always ensure that the patient does not lose their peace of mind.