Incontinence can be stressful for older adults and their caregivers. Studies have shown that 50% of Americans have some form of incontinence. The most common types of incontinence are stress and urge. Stress incontinence occurs when pressure is exerted on the bladder; urge incontinence is the sudden urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine. Both forms can be uncomfortable, messy, and embarrassing.
Staying in control of incontinence care can be troublesome if not detected at an early stage. Reduce the amount of stress it can cause with these helpful tips:
- Seek help from a medical professional – While incontinence is more common as you get older, it is not a normal part of aging. It’s often caused by common and treatable medical conditions. Speaking to a doctor or medical professional before it occurs will more than likely reduce the risk of infection later on. You may also want to consider having a thorough examination done at your doctor’s office to find out the likelihood of needing incontinence care or to ask for guidance on prevention.
- Be wary of certain foods and drinks – There are many common foods and drinks that can trigger incontinence. Drinking too little or too much fluids are among the surprising bladder triggers most people would never even think of. To better manage incontinence, older adults should drink and adequate amount of fluids while limiting the intake of trigger food and drinks, such as:
- Carbonated drinks, coffee, and tea – with and without caffeine
- Acidic fruits like oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes
- Spicy foods; tomatoes and tomato-based products
- Sugar, honey, and artificial sweeteners
- Have a regular bathroom schedule – Creating a daily routine could be beneficial for some older adults, especially those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Regular routines allow the body to become accustomed to habits they are more likely to stick with. Having a bathroom schedule could start as simply as asking your loved one if he or she needs to use the restroom every 2-3 hours; experiment with different hourly intervals and see which one works best.
- Keep an incontinence care kit handy – Putting together a small to medium sized tote bag with clean-up essentials can come in handy while in public. It is important to not let incontinence determine whether or not, or how often your loved one can go out in public. It is also important to never let your loved one feel embarrassed by incontinence to the point where he or she does not feel comfortable going out in public. You and your loved should be advised that accidents do happen, so having a routine and a care kit will only minimize the chance of an accident.
- Wear easy-to-change clothing – While during the winter months this may be a little challenging, wearing layers upon layers of clothing could leave you in a bind if an accident were to occur. Not only do multiple layers of clothing absorb more and give off a stronger odor, they call for a more difficult clean-up afterwards. Avoid clothing that is tough to put on and take off; one alternative could be to wear elastic jeans rather than those with a button. Possibly packing a bag of additional clothing items would be more beneficial.