Dementia and Incontinence
Are you caring for someone with dementia? Do they happen to also suffer from incontinence?
Providing care for a person with dementia is hard and demanding work. If they are also incontinent, it only adds to the challenge.
There are ways to make this situation a little easier for both of you:
1. Be patient and calm. The person may not be aware of an incontinence accident and may become upset and embarrassed when they realise what happened.
2. Try to understand their routines and habits. You can try using a diary to anticipate when the person is likely to need a toilet.
3. Keep an eye out for non-verbal signs. They might include: pulling at their trousers, pacing, holding their stomach, restlessness, sudden silence or hiding in corners.
4. Remind the person to go to the toilet regularly, around 4-6 times a day. In the early stages of dementia, you can set an alarm for every two hours, with a note next to the clock explaining to the person what they should do.
5. The person may hide their wet or soiled clothing and bedding. If you come across it, try not to make a fuss about it, but quietly wash it.
6. Make sure the person drinks enough water throughout the day (6-8 glasses) but avoid drinks right before bedtime.
7. Encourage the person to wear loose clothing that can be easily changed.
8. Protect the bed, sofa and armchair with waterproof pads. PeapodMats are great as they are discreet and can be quickly whisked away and replaced, in case of an accident. There is no rustling sound or cold feeling like with disposable plastic waterproof protectors. PeapodMats also stay in place and quickly absorb liquid, helping to protect the skin.
9. Give the person time and privacy during their toilet visit (but be available in case they need your help!).
10. Take regular breaks from caring. It's not unusual for carers to come in a few times a day to take the person to the toilet and change their pads. You're carrying out very challenging work every day and it's ok if you don't feel up to managing toilet duties. Remember to introduce the carer to the person so they don't get agitated. Continuity of care with people with dementia is very important.
Dementia and Incontinence Friendly Home
Depending on the type and severity of dementia, you'll also need to make a few adjustments in their home.
People with dementia may forget where the toilet is and could mistake other items for it. Try removing bins, baskets and flower pots from the floor. It might be worth getting a commode chair in the room that the person spends most of their time in. If the commode is standing on the carpet, you can use a waterproof pad to protect it in case of accidents.
Try adding bright colours to the bathroom door so the person can easily see it! Use a toilet seat of a bright colour so it doesn't blend in with the rest of the bathroom. You could also add an image of a toilet to the bathroom door.
Leave bathroom doors open so they can see what's inside. It might be best to remove mirrors from the bathrooms as they might notice a reflection and think the bathroom is occupied.
If the person you are looking after is in the late stages of dementia with limited movement, it's important to change the bed as quickly as possible following an accident. Whether you are using a bedpan, pads or a catheter, they all have a risk of leaking. By placing a PeapodMat on the bed, you are protecting the bed sheets and mattress. Using a PeapodMat means there is no need to strip the whole bed after an accident, thereby saving the person's discomfort.
It's important to remember that anyone who begins experiencing incontinence should be checked by a GP to make sure it's not stemming from a different health problem.
We hope these tips will be of help to you. Is there anything we missed that helped you? Please let us know in the comments.
Sources: tena.us, dementiauk.org, dementiacarecentral.com, independentnurse.co.uk
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.