Helping The Elderly Cope With Incontinence
Some degree of incontinence is a very common problem for the elderly, and helping them cope with it can be a real challenge. But with the right information, you can help the older people in your life live full and satisfying lives despite the condition.
Coping with some degree of incontinence is simply a fact of life for most elderly people and for those who take care of them. Though the condition is difficult for both patient and caretaker, here are three simple steps that can make everything easier.
Step One: Understanding the Condition
Urinary incontinence, or difficulty controlling elimination, is a very common problem among older people. While incontinence can effect people of any age, it is most frequently seen in those over 60. Women are somewhat more prone to age-related incontinence than men, but it effects both genders.
Age-related incontinence is almost always a result of other conditions. Older women frequently experience incontinence because of weakened pelvic muscles or a thinning of the vaginal wall, and in older men it can be caused by an enlarged prostate gland. It is also a typical complication of conditions that lead to some degree of dementia, such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, and illnesses like urinary tract infections and diabetes can cause incontinence in both men and women.
Most commonly of all, simple lack of mobility can lead to incontinence problems. Older people who walk and move more slowly may just find it impossible to get to a toilet in time.
Incontinence episodes are rarely a cause for major medical concern, but should be discussed with the older person's physician.
Step Two: Eliminating Embarrassment and Defusing Denial
For most elderly people, incontinence is an extremely embarrassing and distressing condition. The inability to control elimination or just not being able to get to the bathroom fast enough can make them feel helpless and out of control, and a sense of shame and self-doubt can seriously erode their feelings of personal dignity and self esteem.
Most older people will initially reject the idea that they are incontinent and may be upset or angered by the suggestion that they need special clothing or incontinence products. Many will deny that they have a problem and will try to avoid embarrassment by limiting activities and social interactions, which can lead to depression and isolation.
As a caretaker, your attitude is of utmost importance in helping the older person come to terms with whatever level of incontinence he or she experiences. One of the most important things you can do is to treat incontinence as simply a common medical condition that can be managed, maintaining a calm, patient, good-humored and accepting attitude when accidents occur. This will go a long way toward helping the older person maintain a sense of personal dignity, which in turn will make it easier for them to cooperate with your efforts to assist them.
Step Three: Knowing What Options Are Available
The days when incontinence care was an embarrassing, hidden, 'make do' situation are long past. Basic incontinence care products are now readily available in just about every grocery, drug, and discount store, and an amazing variety of specialty products are available online.
Doing some simple research to find out which products are the most suitable, convenient, and cost effective for your older person can make your job as a caretaker much easier.
Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com
Written by: RA Butters