Living with Incontinence: Tips for Managing Daily Life

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How To Successfully Manage Caring for Someone with Incontinence

Elderly couple holding hands and sitting in chairs

Incontinence is a topic that is rarely discussed in public due to it being such a touchy subject for those dealing with this life-changing condition. Whether you are personally dealing with incontinence or caring for someone with incontinence this article contains helpful, practical tips for the successful management of incontinence.

From Embarrassment to Management

As soon as the doctor diagnoses the incontinent patient, it’s an acknowledgment that the leaks a person experiences are not merely a coincidence, but a chronic medical condition. Because the bladder is involved, the patient is encouraged to take immediate measures to get the condition under control so that it doesn’t interfere too much with daily life. However, this is easier said than done. Everyone who receives this diagnosis must deal with various levels of embarrassment when the urge to urinate becomes impossible to ignore. Despite a person’s best efforts, the urinary tract needs to be emptied right away, causing minor to major leaks. It’s typical for an incontinent person to keep the condition a well-guarded secret. Only the most trusted family and friends will know. If there is a designated caregiver, they can help the patient begin the necessary process of acceptance and management. Eventually, the person dealing with incontinence understands that they can learn to live with being incontinent by creating a personalized management plan and sticking with it.

Coping with Social Isolation

Involuntary urination can happen at any time, making it difficult to avoid situations that require dashing off to the nearest bathroom. The fear of leaks becoming noticeable to others is common.

The feeling of not being in control of one’s bladder can lead to a desire to socially isolate. This can mean avoiding social interactions as much as possible and activities they once enjoyed. Once the isolation sets in, reversing this behavior can be a real challenge.

While some are natural introverts who are okay with being alone a lot, others may feel lonely or depressed. Having someone to talk with about emotions that come with being incontinent is extremely helpful for finding ways to feel comfortable being social again.

Elderly couple sitting outside drinking coffee and smiling

Boosting Emotional Well-being

Mental health is an important factor in the management of incontinence, and emotional well-being must be included among coping strategies. People can and do cope with incontinence while living life to the fullest. Having a positive attitude can go a long way towards being able to successfully live with the condition. Helpful methods include talk therapy, low-impact exercises and enjoyable activities that help promote healthy self-esteem.

Making Lifestyle Modifications

An independent senior, or a caregiver seeking ways to provide quality incontinence care, can come up with an individualized lifestyle modification plan. Modification means that practical lifestyle adjustments are being made that make it easier to manage incontinence daily. There are three popular modifications that many people find they can do successfully.

Create a toilet schedule.

One method that can help support a plan for improving continence is to create a toilet schedule. This involves creating set times for going to the bathroom to empty the bladder. Instead of trying to hold out, hoping for no leaks, a person may decide it’s more proactive to eliminate urine at two-hour intervals. Each toilet schedule is customized to manage a person’s unique bladder control needs. Keeping a bladder diary is a great way to learn when the urge to urinate is greatest.

Make dietary changes.

The type and quantity of food and beverages consumed can have an effect on the bladder. For example, coffee, tea and soda are known bladder irritants. Alternatively, drinking too little fluid can lead to fecal wastes building up in the urine, which puts pressure on the bladder. Also, foods such as broccoli, celery, strawberries and melons have a high water content.

Adjustments can be made that consider what to eat and drink and when to consume foods and beverages.

Senior woman doing yoga

Do pelvic exercises.

In some cases, weak pelvic floor muscles may contribute to uncontrollable bladder flow. A simple pelvic floor exercise can help strengthen these muscles. All you need to do is squeeze your pelvic muscles as if you are trying to prevent the bladder from emptying. Hold the squeeze position for three seconds, and then release. Repeat several times. You can quietly do pelvic exercises sitting, standing or lying down throughout the day.

Choosing the Right Incontinence Products

Incontinence products are available to help with overall bladder control management. These products also help to keep embarrassing leak incidents at bay. It may be necessary to try various brands to find the right products for individuals dealing with incontinence.

Bladder protection pads and shields.

Made for women and men living with incontinence, these products are padded inserts designed to be worn with regular underwear. The level of absorbency ranges from mild to overnight.

Incontinence underwear.

Protective underwear can be worn just like regular underwear. The main difference is that the underwear includes built-in absorbent padding. There are styles made for women and men and unisex styles that anyone can wear.

Protecting furniture from leaks.

Another type of incontinence padding is designed to be placed over chairs, sofas and beds. Larger in size than liner pads, these waterproof pads prevent leaks from soaking into upholstery and bedding.

Maintaining Hygiene and Healthy Skin

While urine has a low bacterial count, it’s considered a non-sterile liquid because it contains bodily waste. Additionally, when skin is exposed to wetness for too long, it can lead to rashes and skin irritation. Urine can also produce a strong odor when not cleaned properly.

This is why it’s essential to find hygienic incontinence products that help keep the skin clean and dry and the surrounding environment sanitary. Popular products include moisture barrier ointment, cleansing wipes, rash cream and odor and stain removers.

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