Assisting a loved one who has Alzheimer’s disease is a delicate and often challenging job. There are a number of issues that develop with Alzheimer’s that are sensitive in nature, such as confusion and troubling behaviors. As the disease progresses, issues such as incontinence can develop, which can make daily life even more challenging.
How Can I Help a Loved One With Alzheimer’s Manage Incontinence?
It takes an extra measure of sensitivity and compassion to help someone who is struggling with both Alzheimer’s and incontinence. The following tips can help family caregivers navigate this delicate topic while ensuring their loved one is well cared for and maintains dignity.
- Be sensitive when talking about leaks. An accident can be embarrassing for anyone, but for a person with Alzheimer’s disease, a wide range of emotions from embarrassment to confusion to anger are possible. Remain calm when leaks happen and try not to draw unnecessary attention to it. You might say something like, “I can see that your pants are wet. Let’s get some fresh clothes on.” Or “Accidents happen. It’s okay. I’ll help you get cleaned up.”
- Try to make sure that your loved one can get to a restroom easily. Being able to get to the bathroom before an accident happens can help a person avoid them altogether. Make sure that there is a clear pathway to the bathroom in the home. Leave the light on in the bathroom at night to make it clear where the person should go. Also, offer plenty of opportunities to use the restroom throughout the day to help prevent accidents.
- Introduce incontinence products. Using incontinence briefs can help older loved ones manage leaks and accidents, but it can be a sensitive topic to broach. When introducing them, avoid using the word “diaper” as it can be off-putting for the older adult. Instead, explain that you will be using new pull-up underwear. If there is resistance, you might first try only using them when you will be out of the house in case you are unable to make it to the bathroom in time. For those with more advanced dementia who may not recognize the difference between regular underwear and these protective undergarments, you might consider not mentioning the change at all and simply replacing the underwear with pull-ups in the drawer.
- Preserve a good night’s sleep. An accident at night can ruin your and your loved one’s sleep. To avoid nighttime accidents, encourage the person to wear absorbent pull-on underwear at night. For additional protection, consider using a waterproof mattress protector underneath the sheets. In the event that a leak occurs during the night, make sure there are wipes, absorbent underwear, a dim light, and a change of clothes near the bed.
- Monitor fluid intake. It is very important for older loved ones to stay hydrated throughout the day, so do not discourage drinking water as a way to avoid leaks. Rather, consider limiting fluid intake an hour or two before bedtime. Also, cut down on stimulants such as coffee, tea, and sodas that contain caffeine that could induce urination.
- Communicate with one another and watch for non-verbal clues. If a loved one is still able to express when they need to use the bathroom, encourage them to let you know right away. If the person is in a more advanced stage of Alzheimer’s and communication is limited, learn to watch for non-verbal cues. Restlessness, pacing, making unusual faces or sounds, or attempting to hide in a corner could all be indications that the person needs to use the bathroom.
Seek Help When Needed
For family caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer’s and incontinence, day-to-day life can be filled with ups and downs. The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. The professional senior care team at Nightingale Homecare is on hand to help you care for loved ones both day and night. Our trusted in-home care services and caregivers can help seniors get to the bathroom on time, ensure that proper hygiene is maintained, assist with monitoring fluid intake, be on hand for overnight issues, and much more. To learn more about our services and how we can help families in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and throughout the surrounding areas, give us a call at (602) 903-6793 or fill out our online contact form for more information.