Living with incontinence is a very stressful, embarrassing and difficult situation. Incontinence is the involuntary loss of bladder and bowel control. It affects 1 in 4 Australians; while a 2009 study shows that 55% and 67% of residents in aged care facilities were found to need care for faecal and urinary incontinence, respectively. Fortunately, it is treatable, and help is available. For more information, visit the Continence Foundation of Australia’s website.
Here are 5 helpful tips to help you and your parent to reduce stress and better manage incontinence.
While incontinence is common amongst the elderly, it certainly isn’t a normal part of aging, and is often caused by common and treatable medical conditions.
If you notice ongoing signs of incontinence; such as lingering urine smell, carrying spare clothing and changing several times a day, we advise to first seek help from a healthcare professional to figure out what the root cause of the problem is - because in most cases, it can be treatable.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to manage incontinence is through our dietary choices.
These foods and drinks may irritate your bladder:
- Coffee, tea and carbonated drinks
- Certain acidic fruits - oranges, grapefruits, lemons & limes
- Spicy foods
- Tomato-based products
Not everyone’s bladder will be sensitive to the same food and drinks that can trigger incontinence. If a few of these items are part of your parent’s everyday diet, try advising them to remove or reduce one item at a time for about a week to see if their incontinence symptoms improve.
The pelvic floor muscles sit at the bottom of the pelvis and support the bladder and bowel, and uterus (womb) in women. When you contract the pelvic floor muscles, they lift the internal organs and tighten the openings, thus giving you the ability to control the release of urine, faeces and wind.
When the pelvic floor muscles are weakened, they can lead to problems with bladder and bowel control. Many factors can weaken these muscles in men and women, including prolonged sitting, surgery, aging, pregnancy, childbirth and excessive weight.
Visit our article Pelvic Floor Exercises for Incontience to learn how to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
Accidents can happen at any time, and it makes cleaning a big hassle. Light items like like clothes and bed sheets can be thrown into the washing, however, cleaning and deoderising a mattress or chair isn’t so simple.
Fortunately, incontinence aids such as mattress protectors, mattress pads and chair pads make cleaning far more easier and efficient. They’re designed to acts as a layer of protection that is waterproof, absorbent, washable and reusable.
Clothing that is difficult for your elderly parent to remove when things are urgent can lead to accidents but also increase the risk of falls and injuries if something gets caught while they’re trying to undress.
Adaptive clothing are specially designed to look like standard clothing but include subtle features for easy access and easy dressing/undressing for those who have restricted mobility or disability.
Adaptive clothing features for easy access and dressing include:
- Open back (overlapping layers of fabric)
- Side opening trousers and skirts
- Replace buttons and zips with velcro and magnetic openings
- Machine washable & durable