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Older woman laughing with younger woman – ways to help your loved one with their incontinence

Help your loved one with their incontinence

If she or he hasn´t already seen a doctor, make an appointment soon. You need to find out all you can about your loved one’s condition. Then they can get the right treatment. 
 
Your doctor will want to avoid any discomfort to your loved one. So they’ll probably recommend the least invasive treatment available. Initially, it might involve lifestyle changes, physiotherapy exercises, and medical devices (see below). If those things fail to work, the doctor might refer your loved one to a specialist. As a last resort, the specialist might recommend a medication or surgery. Rest assured though, together with the professionals you can help your loved one with their incontinence.
 
You and your loved one might feel embarrassed when you try to help them with their incontinence. That’s natural. After all, it’s a personal matter. But there’s a lot you can do for them. So it will be good if you can overcome any embarrassment – that will help them feel more relaxed. And if you learn everything you can about their condition, you’ll understand what they are going through. So you can give them exactly the support they need.  

Tips for different types of incontinence

Have you read our Types of Incontinence section? It describes some of the most common kinds of bladder weakness. You should be able to find one that matches your loved one’s condition. 
 
Below are professional tips to help you deal with her or his specific type.
Help with stress incontinence

First, consider your loved one’s lifestyle. A few simple changes could make a big, positive difference. 

  • Keep them hydrated.
    You might naturally think she or he should drink less fluid. But  that could make their urine more concentrated. Which could aggravate their bladder, and make it more active. We recommend that your loved one drink as normal, just following their natural thirst. This should be enough to keep their urine a healthy, pale straw colour. As you might expect, drinking too much will only increase their urge to “go”. So just try to keep a healthy balance.

  • Avoid certain drinks.
    Remember that some drinks are diuretic, meaning they make you visit the toilet more. They can include tea and coffee that contains caffeine and alcoholic beverages. There’s no harm in letting your loved enjoy them once in a while. But it’s best not to serve too many of them.

  • Mind their calories.
    Being overweight weakens the pelvic muscles, which can cause incontinence. So, to help your loved one stay in shape, make sure they have a healthy, nutritious diet, without too many calories.

  • Discourage smoking.
    Does the person you care for smoke? This in itself doesn’t cause bladder weakness. But the coughing that results from smoking can put pressure on the bladder. So try to persuade him or her to cut down or quit smoking. That will benefit their incontinence as well as their general health. 


  • Encourage exercise.
    Is your loved one mobile? Or can you help them move around? They could improve their bladder control by doing pelvic floor exercises. Scientists have found that up to 70% of mild-to-moderate cases of incontinence can be improved or even cured this way. Your loved one will need to do the correct pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises though – regularly over three to six months. It’s never too late to start – even if they’re in their 70s or 80s, they could still improve their symptoms. A specialist may recommend techniques such as electrical stimulation to help carry out these exercises properly. Find out more about the exercises.

Help with urge incontinence

This is sometimes referred to as an overactive bladder. As its name suggests it happens when you get a sudden and unstoppable need “to go”. Here are some tips to help you care for your loved one:

  • Help them reach the bathroom.
    Make sure the path to your toilet is clear and easy for her or him to navigate.  Also, if they’re mobile/semi-mobile and dressed, their clothes should be easy to remove – that is, without awkward fastenings.

  • Help them with bladder training and exercises.
    With urge incontinence, it’s possible to “retrain” the bladder. To do this, encourage your loved one to hold larger amounts of urine for longer. And to go to the toilet less often. This stops their bladder from “exaggerating” the need to go when it is only half full. Retraining tends to get easier over time. Up to 50% of urge incontinence suffers who’ve tried it have found it effective.
> Kegel exercises for pelvic muscles can also help in some cases of urge incontinence.
 
> Learn about the exercises.

Help with mixed incontinence

Does your loved one suffer from a mix of stress and urge incontinence? If so, the best thing to do is concentrate on the dominant symptoms and try to manage these first. You could start them on pelvic floor exercises for stress incontinence, or bladder retraining for urge incontinence. Then, once their main symptoms improve, begin dealing with the other symptoms.

Help with functional or neurological incontinence

Does a physical or mental disability prevent your loved one from getting to the toilet in time? Or does it stop them from having any control over their bladder?  Doctors might be able to help. But, even if they can’t, there are still things you can do to help improve your loved one’s situation.

 
Most importantly, minimise the impact of any accidents with good incontinence products. Well-designed incontinence pads and pants will completely contain any escaped urine. They’ll also help to keep her or him feeling fresh, dry, clean and comfortable.
 
> Explore the TENA product range.

Measures for more serious cases

Depending on your loved one’s condition, a doctor or specialist might recommend one or more of the following:

  • Medical devices
    The doctor might insert a catheter (a tube that connects with the urethra) with a portable bag to capture all urine. This might be just a temporary measure, particularly if the incontinence is the result of surgery which your loved one is recovering from. You may need to change and clean their catheter bags – an easy task to learn. Important to understand that a catheter is not a solution for urinary incontinence but for an enlarged prostate or a temporary solution after prostate surgery.

    The most commonly used devices for bladder weakness are absorbent incontinence pads and pants. Designed to protect against urine leakage and odours, they come in a range of sizes and absorbency levels.

    > Explore TENA incontinence products.

  • A last resort: medication and/or surgery
    There are medicines that can help reduce the bladder’s overactivity. To find out about medications that could help your loved one’s urge incontinence, ask your doctor to refer you to a specialist – for example, a urologist or urogynaecologist.

    Surgery can help treat incontinence, but it is rarely used.

Other ways you can help

What else can you do to help a loved one with functional incontinence? Make sure the path to your toilet is clear and easy for them to navigate. And if they’re mobile/semi-mobile and dressed, it’ll help to have them wear clothes that are easy to remove – that is, without awkward fastenings.

Treat your loved one with the best

Find out how TENA offers you the most effective solution to keeping your loved one clean and comfortable – check out the TENA range here.

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