Urinary incontinence is a medical condition with far-reaching social, financial, and psychological impacts. Caring for a loved one with bladder control issues can be messy, uncomfortable, and potentially embarrassing. Incontinence may add stress to an already strained caregiver relationship.
Here Are Five Tips to Minimize the Stress for Both of You
1. Keep Your Calm
The embarrassment and shame relating to incontinence can result in your loved one rejecting the use of protective underwear. Using the products every day may result in your mom feeling ashamed of being unable to take care of herself at the most basic level.
Your first instinct in responding to the resistance may be to lash out. However, you should aim to be empathetic and maintain your calm. Understand that your loved one Depends on you, and the incontinence is involuntary. You can use a matter-of-fact approach to diffuse the tense situation.
Talk to your loved one in a relaxed, reassuring, and respectful manner about the incontinence episode and how to clean up. You can remove the sting of shame and embarrassment by using a little humor. Tackling your loved one’s anxiety can also help you manage your stress levels.
2. Have an Emergency Incontinence Kit
Incontinence is one of the most challenging issues seniors face, mainly when the bladder leak occurs in public. You can manage the stress of cleaning up by having a small kit with supplies that you may need. Ideally, you should have two sets, an on-the-go tote bag, and a second supply kit in your car.
The incontinence clean up kit may contain:
- Briefs or Pads: Aim to have extra pieces in each bag. It can minimize the stress of walking into a store during an emergency.
- Wet Wipes: Disinfection wipes may come in handy in cleaning up your loved one. You may also use wipes to sanitize the surrounding surfaces.
- Plastic Bags: You can wrap the soiled briefs and clothes in incontinence disposal bags. Recycled grocery plastic bags can also work, allowing you to discard the pads hygienically and responsibly.
- Underpads: Use the underpad to keep surfaces dry during the cloth change. You may also use it as a changing pad whenever necessary.
Ensure that you only purchase quality incontinence products. Your loved one may need high-absorbent, comfortable pull-ups that minimize leaks to their clothing. A quality brief can make all the difference, making your clean-up work easier.
3. Seek Help
You may find yourself getting angry or resentful of having to deal with one incontinence episode after another. Your loved one may not be cooperative, and the cost of the supplies can worry you enough to keep you up all night.
You can avoid running yourself into caregiver burnout by accepting help from people around you.
Start with your loved one’s physician. Contrary to popular belief, incontinence isn’t part of the normal aging process. A physical examination with a doctor can help determine if the cause of the bladder leaks is treatable.
Most incontinence cases relate to curable urinary tract infections.
You may also enhance your mental health by visiting a therapist or joining a caregiver support group.
Support groups may provide a wealth of information on handling different situations and quality products that you should try out.
Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of your needs is crucial for looking after your loved one in the best way possible. You should aim to keep yourself healthy, fit, and well-rested. Here are several tips that can help you maintain good self-care:
1. Get Enough Sleep
You may need to get adequate sleep, at least 7 to 9 hours each night. A good night’s sleep can minimize stress levels. You can wake up energetic enough to look after your loved one.
Exercising is a critical part of keeping fit. Working out can also improve your moods and reduce your stress levels. Consider taking a walk, dance class, or home workouts.
3. Take Breaks
Breaks from caregiving responsibilities can help you to recharge. You can pick up a new hobby to take your mind off the everyday stress. Enlist the assistance of a friend or family member to look after your parents while you are away.
Alternatively, in-home respite care is an excellent way to continue providing incontinence care in your absence.
4. Eat Healthily
Caregiver stress can have you skipping meals and eating poorly. You may need to look after your nutritional needs by eating a balanced diet.
Plan, But Remain Flexible
You can work with your loved one to develop a bathroom routine that can help accustom their body to use the toilet at specific times. A bathroom schedule with regular intervals can minimize the chances of having an incontinence incident.
You can plan to have an airplane seat or restaurant table closer to the washrooms for outdoor activities. Look for venues with family restrooms to make it easier to clean up. You may also need to watch what your loved one consumes as diet considerably affects bladder control.
Caring for a loved one living with incontinence can be stressful. It requires time, patience, and commitment. Something that can be a bit demanding to some people.
However, it doesn’t have to be so necessarily. You can use these five tips to manage incontinence stress for you and the recipient. Hopefully, you’ve learned something useful and are in a better position to help than before.