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Anna's story

Younger woman talking with older woman – stories from other caregivers

Anna makes peace with her mother-in-law

“Maria is a tough lady, and raising the issue wasn’t easy. However, when it happened again, I told her we could get help.”
 
“Taking care of my mother-in-law helped me understand how a person feels when they rely on others to assist them physically.
 
Learning about incontinence from magazines and the Internet, I discovered that about a quarter of women get it at some point. And quite a few of them need daily help to manage their condition – that’s a lot of people going through the same thing!
 
Our doctor confirmed that it was extremely common. When I mentioned that Maria hadn’t been to the doctor about it, he said that less than half of those with bladder problems ever discuss it, so the condition frequently goes untreated.
 
Maria is a tough lady and so raising the issue wasn’t easy. However, when it happened again, I told her we could get help. She was extremely annoyed that I had noticed, though I insisted I wasn’t embarrassed. I let things cool off before taking her to the doctor.
 
That’s when things improved. We made sure she had ready access to the toilet and chose the right size odour control pads. 
 
Then, just months later she became confined to a wheelchair. Suddenly I was in the role of caregiver – a new situation for both of us. The increased level of intimacy required during the daily routines of washing and going to the toilet was challenging – especially for my mother-in-law. Maybe it would have been better if I was her daughter, but it’s an enormously sensitive subject. My husband helped, but used work and his gender as excuses to avoid intimate care.
 
With trial and error Maria and I got a routine going. We used incontinence pads during the day, that can be changed without her having to remove her tights. Then we switched to incontinence pants at night that tear at the sides so they can be removed quickly and cleanly in the morning.
 
I’m glad Maria and I found a way to get over our embarrassment. She’s so much easier to get on with these days."
 

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