Let’s Talk About…Incontinence

This is a subject which many people shy away from because of embarrassment.  Bladder leakage or uncontrolled bladders is not exactly a topic for great dinnertime conversation, but it is a topic that ought to be talked about in a less hushed way.  It is a common problem, especially in the elderly population.  It’s a topic that many people know about, but don’t know seem to know how to solve it.

Incontinence occurs, in most cases, when the bladder muscles do not tighten as they should to move the urine or when the muscles around the urethra relax unexpectedly and cause the urine to leak out.  It is a muscular issue, and since we lose muscle tone as we age, it can be a very regular & disconcerting occurrence.

Anyone who has visited a nursing care & assisted living facility or an elderly ward knows that incontinence is an issue & the accompanying smells associated with these places can turn away even the most stalwart of volunteers.  No one wants to have those types of smells associated with them!  But how do you keep that from happening?  Especially if you’re senior citizen on a very limited and fixed income?  Many people in this situation cannot afford to buy disposable diapers and many more prefer not to fill up landfills with diapers that take decades to decompose.

I’ve heard of people who are just discovering this as an issue to roll toilet paper to help absorb leakage.  This may work for a small amount of leakage, but will do nothing to stave off the smell or hide the issue if a larger leakage occurs.  Some people go so far as to not drink when they go out because they do not want it to be an issue when they’re away from home!  If you’re an elderly person, this can cause a whole host of much worse health problems than the leakage!  Dehydration in elderly is common enough without intentionally withholding the fluids that your body needs for proper functioning!  Please do not do this!  If you know someone who does, please warn them of the dire consequences of intentionally dehydrating themselves!

In recent years, many companies have been developing products that can be used repeatedly for absorption of urine because of incontinence and then washed again and again.  This seems to be the best option for all involved.  Those who use them can then have freedom from embarrassment from leaks & also from having to buy the diapers in the store.  They’re also more economical in the long run than buying diapers every time they run to the market.  In addition, they’re a better option than disposables when it comes to landfills.  They still involve manufacturing, but because they’re re-useable, they have a smaller environmental footprint than the disposables.

Look online for things called “re-useable incontinence pads”, “re-useable pantyliners” or “period underwear”. There are lines of products that sell pads of chairs, men’s incontinence briefs, and even swimwear options. While this may be incredibly difficult for an elderly person to face and talk about, you’ll notice a greater confidence and more willingness to be out and about once this issue is dealt with.  Most of these products can be used with a wet bag  that is waterproof and tightly sealed if traveling so that the washing only needs to be done every few days.  It is impossible for them to feel confident or even comfortable if they have bladder leakage problems always on their minds.    Give them the gift of freedom and security from embarrassment!    Then take them somewhere they’ve been longing to go!