Continence management is a delicate balance between independence and safety. The goal is to maintain your loved one’s dignity and comfort while also considering the physical limitations you are dealing with. To help facilitate continence management, here are some tips for caregivers:
Know The Difference Between Incontinence And Continence
Incontinence is the inability to control urination. This can be due to a medical condition like diabetes or an injury that affects the bladder or pelvic floor muscles. Continence, however, is holding urine until you can get to a restroom. A person with continence may have more control over their bladder than someone who is incontinent.
Proper Assessment Is Key
The first step in managing incontinence is to conduct a proper assessment. That means taking a good look at the type and frequency of incontinence, as well as its impact on quality of life. This will help you figure out what kind of treatment may be needed and how much time it will take for your loved one to recover from the symptoms.
It’s also important for you to understand that there are many different types of incontinence—some are caused by physical problems with urination or bowel movements, while others can result from other conditions like dementia or even stroke damage in the brainstem region that controls bladder function. Your loved one’s doctor may recommend an assessment by a specialist like a urologist or a geriatrician who is experienced with these issues; this could be especially helpful if your loved one has other health issues such as diabetes or high blood pressure, which affect bladder control.
Elimination Communication Is Essential
Elimination communication is an important aspect of care for a person with dementia who has trouble communicating their needs.
It’s not always possible to use elimination communication, even if you have a loved one who is capable of it, but it can be very helpful when you can use it. Elimination communication involves using signs or cues from the person to communicate when they need to go to the bathroom. You might notice them starting or finishing a task, such as washing dishes or folding laundry, in order to let your loved one know that now would be an appropriate time for them to visit the bathroom.
Establish A Toileting Routine
Establishing a toileting routine will help with continence management. The following tips can help you establish a toileting routine for your loved one:
- Choose a time of day that works for both of you and then stick to it.
- Establish when the person should go before bedtime because this is the best time to check their incontinence pad if needed. If the person has pain from constipation, establish times in which they should use laxatives throughout the day. Hence, so as not to induce further complications such as constipation and/or diarrhea, both are uncomfortable conditions that lead to increased stress and anxiety on behalf of your loved ones (and caregivers).
- Make sure there are adequate supplies on hand at all times—pads and plastic pants—so that they don’t have any problems getting ready when it comes time for them to change themselves after using their bathroom facilities.
Remember, incontinence management is a process that takes time and patience. As with any plan, there will be ups and downs. But if you take the time to assess your loved one’s situation, find out what works best for them, establish routines and encourage continence whenever possible, the journey ahead can be a happy one for all involved.