Caregiving and Incontinence
Being a caregiver can be both rewarding and challenging. The experience of looking after a family member – and especially “parenting” a parent – can feel particularly challenging when incontinence is an issue.
Fortunately, there are helpful resources and products to make this process easier for everyone.
Open Up the Lines of Communication
As with any health issue, talking about incontinence – clearly, compassionately and honestly – is the first step to managing it.
At first, the person experiencing incontinence might avoid mentioning it. The caregiver might feel awkward bringing it up. But discussing incontinence in a straightforward and natural way is the best way to normalize it.
It also helps to realize the issue is very common: Up to 35 per cent of Canadians over the age of 60 experience some form of urinary incontinence.
It’s important to educate yourself. Reading up on incontinence — its causes, treatments and strategies for management – will help you understand your options.
Developing some simple routines and using the right products can make dealing with incontinence more comfortable for everyone.
Look into easy-on, easy-off clothing for your family member, to make quick changes or sudden trips to the bathroom less stressful. Small changes in diet can also help, like cutting down on common triggers such as alcohol, caffeinated drinks and artificial sweeteners.
Talking to your family member’s healthcare providers and working together with nurses, home care aides or care facility employees can also help you manage your specific situation. Caregiving is a team effort.
Too often, incontinence can cause people to retreat into social isolation. But getting outside, keeping active and connecting with friends and family are all important factors in overall physical and mental health, especially with older adults.
If your family member feels anxious about visits, outings and trips, try to reassure them. A little planning, some strategic packing and the right protection can make getting out of the house feel less daunting. Consider keeping a grab-and-go bag on-hand, filled with protection, wipes, a change of clothing and sealable plastic bags.
Stock Up on Supplies
It’s important to find the right products, with the right level of absorbency and the right fit.
Talk to your family member about the products that can help them stay protected. Some older adults might have outdated misconceptions about incontinence products and worry they are bulky or badly fitting. Let them know that today’s incontinence products feature a sleek design unnoticeable under clothes and soft fabric for all day protection, whether that’s Depend Silhouette®, Real Fit or Depend Night Defense®, which provides reliable, fast-acting absorbency for a better night’s sleep.
Once you’ve figured out what works best, consider using the “Subscribe and Save” option on Amazon, which will deliver your products on a regular schedule and save you 15% while ensuring you always have the necessary supplies on hand.
Be Kind to Yourself
It’s important to think about the feelings of the person you’re caring for, but it’s also crucial to acknowledge your own emotions. Even when you have routines in place and the right products on hand, the demands of caregiving can sometimes seem overwhelming. Give yourself permission to feel what you feel and make sure to ask for support and advice when you need it.
You might also consider joining a support group for caregivers or checking out online blogs and forums where you can share problems and ask questions. Talk with family members and friends, and always remember, you’re not alone.