The person I care for is physically able, but due to mental illness cannot ensure accidents don’t happen.
Try to be calm and reassuring
If your loved one has a mental condition, such as dementia or nerve damage, which prevents them from recognising the need to visit the toilet, it can be quite distressing for them when they have accidents. It helps to de-dramatise the situation if you can make sure any accident is dealt with quickly, calmly and with respect to their personal dignity.
Provide them with good incontinence protection
The right incontinence protection will help ensure leaks are absorbed, and faeces and odour are contained, helping to protect your loved one’s clothes, their living environment and their dignity. Incontinence protection comes in a range of sizes and absorbencies, for both men and women. Many people find that protection that pulls up like ordinary underwear is more acceptable to people with a degree of mental confusion as it helps them feel more ‘normal’. Visit the Product Pavilion for more information on incontinence products.
Your loved one may be tempted to drink less, but this can make the urine more concentrated, aggravating the bladder and making it more active. Encourage them to drink as normal, responding to their natural thirst. This should be enough to keep the urine a healthy, pale straw colour. As you might expect, drinking too much will just increase the urge to ’go’ so just try and keep a healthy balance.
Be aware that some drinks have a diuretic effect
Of course you don’t want to curb your loved one’s pleasures but be aware that caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks are diuretics which will make them need to visit the toilet more.
Regular visits to the toilet will help reduce accidents
If your loved one forgets they need to visit the toilet, try and give them regular reminders throughout the day, and before going to bed. Depending on their mental state you may need to take them to the toilet yourself, in which case help them select clothing that is easily removed, e.g. wide skirts and drawstring trousers can also make going to the toilet easier.
Changing and hygiene
Your loved one may be alert to accidents once they have happened and be able to change themselves, or you may need to offer a helping hand. Either way, ensure fresh protective products are within easy reach in the toilet and that you have a lidded disposal bin for used products. Pant products that tear at the sides help make changing quick and clean and wet wipes can prove easier and gentler on the skin than standard toilet paper.
Urine can irritate the skin, which in the case of the elderly, can be particularly sensitive. Protective products with high absorbency and that quickly draw urine away from the skin even when the person is seated for long periods, will help reduce the risk of skin irritation. If you are worried about your loved one’s skin sensitivity look in the Product Pavilion for protection designed to reduce the risk of skin irritations.
Establish a routine for you and your loved one
People with poor memory skills or impaired mental health tend to feel much safer if they have an established routine, and this can help reduce accidents for those who do manage to go to the toilet themselves from time to time. So it is worth establishing routine in terms of meal times, visits to the toilet, rests and leisure activities such as a walk or TV watching.
You should also build in time out for yourself where your loved one gets used to time when they are on their own, if they can be, or with another carer from time to time. Even if the person you care for does very little all day, a fixed routine may help reduce accidents. For other useful tips that can make caring for your loved one easier go to the café.
Get a helping hand from a local organisation or charity
There may already be adult day care centres or healthcare organisations in your area. If so, they could give you the chance to leave your loved one in caring hands so you can take a break for a few hours. Another advantage is that your loved one gets a chance to socialise with the other attendees. Many of these organisations offer transportation, run regular group activities such as day trips, and prepare snacks. They may even provide a ‘meals on wheels’ service.