Activities of Daily Living
Elderly Incontinence : What you can do to help your elderly parent
It is a simple, undeniable fact that as we age, many of us will suffer from incontinence at some point in our lives. Most people feel embarrassed or ashamed when even slight leakage occurs. But, in fact, this is a completely normal part of the aging process! When your elderly parent starts noticing signs of incontinence, the first thing to do is try to lower their feelings of embarrassment. Instead, re-assure them that this is completely normal and that everything is going to be just fine.
Elderly incontinence is caused by a variety of reasons. As we grow older, our bladder muscles age, leading to a decrease in the bladder’s capacity to store urine. This often results in an overactive bladder, which can be worsened by additional factors such as certain diets or medical conditions. Understanding the exact source of your parents’ incontinence is important because it can help you seek the correct medication or exercises that could help control it. Many factors can worsen incontinence including urinary tract infections, constipation, or certain foods, drinks, or medications that cause temporary incontinence. Alvita Home Care recommends that you take your parent to their doctor for a thorough evaluation to determine what the cause of the incontinence is and suggest appropriate treatments. It is important for seniors to discuss issues of incontinence with their doctors, as incontinence is a symptom, not a disease itself.
Understanding the different types of incontinence is crucial. Stress incontinence can occur in times of laughter or sneezing, and during physical motions like bending or lifting. Unexpected bladder contractions are the cause of Urge incontinence. These contractions are what lead to the immediate need to urinate. At times the bladder is not capable of holding urine, which causes an uncontrolled flow of urine. For those who suffer from dementia, functional incontinence is common. Seniors with dementia often times forget to use the bathroom. Functional incontinence is also common with those who’s mobility is impaired and are unable to reach the toilet in time.
There is good news!
There are ways to treat and manage incontinence.
Seniors can continue to have happy and active lifestyles. The following are a few treatments that may be suggested and performed under a doctor’s care.
- Kegel exercises help to improve the strength of the pelvic muscles – by contracting and releasing these muscles seniors can maintain or better control their bladders. The stronger the muscles around the bladder the longer seniors are able hold their urine.
- Instructing seniors on how to become aware of body signs before urgency arises, this aids them in training and strengthening their pelvic muscles.
- Keeping a chart of the times when voiding and leaking occur can help seniors, especially those diagnosed with dementia, determine certain times of day that would be best for them to use the restroom.
Other factors that can contribute to incontinence :
Caffeine and alcohol can potentially cause incontinence later in life and can aggravate the problem when it surfaces. Excessive intake of fluids and the consumption of foods that are spicy, or that are highly acidic like tomatoes, juices and citrus fruits can be contributors to the problem. Encourage seniors to pay attention to the types foods they are eating to help identify if certain foods are contributing to their incontinence. Before bedtime limit fluid intake and make sure there is easy access to bathrooms.
A helpful suggestion to reduce incontinence is to have your parent stick to a urination schedule and take their time while urinating. Keeping to a consistent bathroom schedule will help prevent leakage. Also, when your elderly parent is experiencing urinary incontinence, encourage them to relax and take their time in the bathroom. Going to the bathroom twice in a row can also ensure that the bladder is completely emptied and prevent multiple trips.
If the above techniques prove to be of no help, a doctor can recommend or prescribe medications that are available to treat or relieve various types of incontinence. Disposable temporary devices can be used to insert in the urethra to stop involuntary urine flow. There are several adult incontinence briefs or pads that can provide peace of mind for seniors seeking to enjoy the freedom of a more active lifestyle.