Incontinence is a condition that is often difficult for a person to accept and deal with. Many try to avoid this conversation and carry on with their lives as opening it up seems like it’s something to be ashamed of. There are ways to encourage a loved one to address this issue, but they require patience, understanding, and a commitment to upholding their dignity.
If you have a partner, parent, or sibling experiencing bladder leaks, you might feel like it’s an overwhelming dilemma and a sensitive topic to discuss with. It is a challenge a few expect to deal with especially for the elderly. But neither you, nor your loved ones should feel embarrassed about urine incontinence that many older adults will face for one reason or another. Remember that incontinence is often a treatable condition (hyperlink of relevant previous article: Article 3: Living with Incontinence – What Are Your Options?), so always speak with their doctor to uncover the underlying cause (hyperlink of relevant previous article/infographic: Article 1: Incontinence 101).
Certainly, having urine leaks and the thought of wearing adult diapers are very difficult to accept. However, if it is not managed well, the person with incontinence may experience feelings of rejection, social isolation, dependency, and may also develop problems with their body image. Just like other health disorders, the more you know about the condition and the treatment options available, the better it can be managed.
Encourage them to talk about their condition
According to the National Association for Incontinence, many people with incontinence do not seek help. Depending on the individual’s personal beliefs and feelings about incontinence, the person you are caring for may try to hide it, deny it, and does not want to talk about it. To help you deal with this delicate topic, here are some helpful tips:
Be empathetic and reassuring
Reassure your loved one that a majority of people go through this. Offer to help them speak to their doctor and search for solutions for their incontinence. Offer to get some adult diapers just to try. Explain that wearing protective products can actually help them feel more confident in case of an accident.
Call in some help
If you have tried to talk casually to make your loved one comfortable on this issue, but they still seem closed off, try bringing someone else in to help. Perhaps, a trusted nurse friend or doctor can help for a small talk. Women often experience mild incontinence following pregnancy, and men who have had prostate surgery will often have these issues, too. Remind your loved ones that incontinence is a common medical condition, so the doctor will be comfortable discussing it.
Plant some samples
Make it easy to choose protective liners or adult diapers by planting them in convenient areas, like in an underwear drawer and in the bathroom. Place a bucket with a lid in the restroom for easy disposal.
What other things can you do to help?
Incontinence is more than just bladder leaks. A recent survey from the National Association for Continence showed that nearly 90% of respondents with urine incontinence felt either isolated, alone, depressed or hopeless. Many people with incontinence limit their time with family and friends because they’re scared others will find out. Attending events and traveling can all be impacted by bladder leaks. Don’t let your loved ones feel emotionally abandoned. Show them that they are not alone in this problem and extend your helping hand in guiding them through the processes. Afterall, strong emotional support starts at home.