Incontinence is a common struggle that plagues many older adults that is seldom discussed. It leaves many older folks feeling ashamed or embarrassed causing reluctance to speak about it. However, the problem is widespread with more than a quarter of the elderly facing bladder issues and close to tenth experiencing bowel problems. As a caregiver, it can be difficult to care for your loved one if they are experiencing such issues. Thus, we have compiled some pointers on how to help you and your loved one tackle these problems.
Causes of Incontinence
Due to the onset of aging, older adults can lose control of their bladders or bowels for a number of reasons. One of the first things you can do for them is to seek a diagnosis from a medical professional. It is possible that they could be facing a medical condition that causes or worsens their incontinence. Other conditions can also lead to incontinence such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), prostate issues, constipation, and prolapse. For example, urinary tract infections are common in old folks, especially those wearing diapers. Thankfully, this can be easily resolved with medication.
On the other hand, it is also possible that the medication your loved one has been prescribed for other ailments is causing incontinence. In that case, it is also possible to inform a doctor who can switch up the medication.
Yet another cause of incontinence is memory loss. Oftentimes, people suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease develop incontinence. In this case, you can seek the guidance of a dementia specialist who can provide you with some ideas on how to deal with this.
Finally, one of the most common causes of incontinence is the loss of strength in the pelvic muscles. In general, aging weakens muscles and the pelvic muscles are no different. This can lead to the inability to control bowel movements thus causing incontinence.
How to Deal with Incontinence
Now that you know what causes incontinence, you may be wondering how to heal your loved ones cope with it. First and foremost, if you suspect your family members are struggling with incontinence, approach them in a manner that will not cause them embarrassment. Discussing the issue sensitively and broaching the topic with caution is key.
Following that, encourage them to visit a doctor who can help identify the root cause of the problem. If they too are unable to find where the issue stems from, they may then give you a referral for a specialist opinion.
Another way to help prevent incontinence is to make sure your loved one is drinking appropriate amounts of water throughout the day. Ensuring they are sufficiently hydrated helps their bowel movements become more regular. As a general rule of thumb, most older adults should drink about two liters of fluids daily. Constipation can also be caused by a lack of fiber. Hence, you can incorporate more fibrous foods into their diet such as vegetables and wholemeal bread.
Incontinence can be difficult to manage. However, there are always products available to help you cope. Look into utilizing bed pads, diapers, or incontinence pants to help finally ease trouble and discomfort.