Incontinence was the topic of our support meeting with a registered nurse who specialised in urology and incontinence issues with free home visit to assist and provide information.
We have talked in our social times about the difficulties we maybe experiencing and sought insights from each other, but today’s meeting brought clarity to some areas.
Incontinence What is it?
Is any accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or bowel motion, faeces or wind from the bowel (faecal or bowel incontinence).
For a person with dementia may have difficulty with:
Holding on until they can get to a toilet.
Finding the toilet although it is in front of them.
Urinate or open their bowel in inappropriate places.
What can I do ?
Provide comfort and dignity foremost. Don’t make a scene. Accept and get over your own embarrassment in having to help the person in such an intimate way. Sometimes a little humour can help. I remember the first time I had to help a male friend go to the toilet and the look I received. Today it’s water of a ducks back.
Visit a doctor and get advice and a checkup to make sure there is not some underlying cause.
What can be done to minimise the episodes and maintain the person’s dignity?
In some situations, medications may help, but they can also worsen incontinence and increase confusion. Therefore, medications must be closely monitored and altered if any side effects occur.
Where possible, encourage the person to drink six to eight glasses of fluids a day, unless otherwise advised by their doctor. This helps to prevent urinary tract infection and constipation and to maintain good bladder health. Avoid excessive amounts of coffee, tea and cola as the caffeine in these drinks may irritate the bladder and can cause frequency and urgency to pass urine
Maintain regular bowel habits and prevent/treat constipation. The person may need to be reminded to use the toilet at regular intervals – at the times when they usually need to go or before they are likely to be wet.
If they are no longer able to recognise the need to use the toilet they should be taken to the toilet at regular intervals. This may be every 2 to 3 hours, depending on how much they drink and their wetting pattern. It may be necessary to stay with them to help them and remind them why they are there.
Adjust clothing, if appropriate, to make it easier for them to manage, velcro fastening instead of zips and buttons.Easy to manage clothing such as tracksuits may make undressing easier.
Use a night-light if required. Make the toilet door easily identifiable.
Have a plan
If your going out have spare clothing and wipes with you. I have spare clothing in the car along with clean up kit
Disposable continence protection products are available so find the one that’s appropriate. In Australia you may be entitled to financial assistance towards continence products. One scheme The Continence Aids Payment Scheme pays over $500 towards the costs. Eligibility criteria and funding varies among schemes. For more information Phone 1800 33 00 66 The National Continence Helpline.
One useful tip from within the group was to use shaving cream to clean dry fetal matter.
Further information is available Azlheimer’s Australia