Incontinence and Caregiving

Incontinence is so embarrassing that it is difficult to talk about – even to your family member or doctor.  Often a loved one does not know how to solve the problem.  And the person who experiences incontinence knows that he or she just can’t “hold it”, and not have an accidents.  Accidents do happen.  It is not the patient’s fault. Incontinence is caused by old age, being overweight, and certain conditions such as stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s and prostate conditions. It is not caused by the patient being lazy, neglectful, or spiteful.

So how does a caregiver cope with the problem of incontinence?  There are many solutions that don’t involve medications or surgery, or covering all the furniture in plastic.

Urination Leakage Prevention

  • You probably know some prevention techniques, like not drinking fluids before bedtime. Avoid caffeinated and carbonated drinks or drinking a lot of fluids before activities.  Certain foods may cause one to have to urinate more frequently. These can include tomatoes and tomato products, citrus fruits and juices, and alcohol.  Watch what you are consuming and when, and see if making changes can result in improvement.
  • Schedule regular bathroom visits throughout the day. Anticipate your need to toilet before riding in the car, sitting through lengthy appointments, or being places where restrooms are not nearby. Most public places in the U.S. have restrooms that are accessible to wheelchair users and others with disabilities.
  • The patient should learn when he or she needs to toilet during the day by keeping notes on the times of day of leakage and complete bladder emptying, and amounts of fluids consumed during the day. Use the information on the times of day and frequency to help you train your bladder. .  Bladder training can be done just by using this information and scheduling regular visits to the bathroom.  If a patient is urinating every hour, then plan ahead to go to the toilet before an accident.  One can retrain the bladder by slowly increasing the time between bathroom visits.
  • Women have probably heard of Kegel exercises during their pregnancies. Kegel exercises are helpful in strengthening the pelvic floor after childbirth. They also help prevent stress incontinence.   Kegel exercises are easy and can be done anytime and anywhere you are no matter your age.

Herbal Remedies

Another prevention method for urinary incontinence is the use of herbal remedies. Little research has been done on herbs that affect overactive bladder and urinary leakage, but there are some patients who have found herbal remedies effective for the problem.  Here is more information on overactive bladder and herbal remedies.

UTI Infection and Incontinence

Both caregivers and incontinence sufferers should realize that the most common cause of frequent urination is a urinary tract infection.  Symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) include a burning sensation when urinating, cloudy or bloody urine, and low back pain. As the infection worsens, patients may have fever, chills, and nausea. The patient should go to a doctor as soon as possible.  Elderly women, particularly patients who are confined to bed, are often prone to having urinary tract infections.

Get Professional Help

Frequent urination can be an embarrassing problem, but there are prevention methods, prescription medicines, and surgical treatments available.  Getting professional help so you can have a conversation with a doctor about urinary incontinence is available to you  at the website of the National  Association for Continence.

Additional reading – Seniors Bath Time Solutions for those Reluctant Seniors

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