6 Ways You Can Support Someone Experiencing Incontinence  

Incontinence, the involuntary leakage of urine or stool, can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. It can lead to anxiety, depression, isolation, and low self-esteem. As a caregiver, family member, or friend of someone experiencing incontinence, your support means everything. Managing this sensitive health condition poses physical burdens of constant bathroom trips, skin irritations, and infections, as well as emotional distress from embarrassment, loss of independence, demoralization, and more. 

The sense that one’s body is betraying them robs one’s personal agency and self-confidence. Loved ones often hide soiled clothing and go to extreme lengths to cover incontinence due to ingrained feelings of humiliation and shame. Over time, the progressive worsening of symptoms diminishes optimism and determination to socialize or maintain professional commitments. Here are six important ways to help someone manage this sensitive health condition. 

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1. Buy Them Incontinence Products  

One of the most helpful things you can do is purchase quality adult diapers and pads for the person experiencing incontinence. This saves them the potential embarrassment of buying such products themselves. Do some research to find recommendations on the best adult diapers regarding absorbency, fit, leakage protection, and breathability.  

Discreetly ask what type and level of absorbency works best for their needs so you can get the right supplies. Or offer to accompany them shopping if they prefer to select personal items. 

Restocking supplies regularly before running out also prevents accidents if they have trouble making frequent purchases due to limited mobility or energy. Deliver products conveniently to their home so they don’t have to carry bulky packs around. Replenishing pads places less burden on them to repeatedly make embarrassing pharmacy runs. This simple assistance aids home management while protecting their dignity. 

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2. Be Patient and Show Empathy 

Living with incontinence can feel demoralizing and humiliating for many, especially given its association with aging and loss of dignity. The person may vent frustration, hide soiled clothing, isolate themselves, or even deny needing help due to embarrassment. 

Showing empathy is essential. Reassure them you don’t judge them for something out of their control. If they have accidents, respond calmly without displaying disappointment or disgust. Let them know that this condition makes life difficult, but you want to help however you can. 

3. Encourage Seeking Medical Advice 

When symptoms arise, seeing a doctor is vital to diagnose the exact cause and best treatment options. Various treatments range from Kegel exercises and medications to medical devices and surgeries. Finding the right solution relies on an accurate diagnosis via tests, pelvic exams, bladder scans, and more. 

The person may feel seeing a doctor confirms they are “losing control” over their body. Combat feelings of shame by focusing on how treatment would improve their day-to-day ability to work, socialize, exercise, run errands, and enjoy hobbies again without worrying about accidents. Make clear you don’t see them any differently but want them to regain confidence in themselves. 

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4. Discuss Lifestyle Changes Openly 

Once diagnosed, the doctor may likely recommend certain lifestyle adjustments regarding diet, exercise, smoking, and alcohol consumption to help manage incontinence symptoms. However, the person may be reluctant or resistant to altering comfortable habits that have been part of their routine for years. 

As a caregiver, you play a pivotal role in having open, compassionate conversations about how positive changes like eating more fiber, doing regular Kegel exercises, losing excess weight, or quitting smoking can greatly reduce the severity and frequency of leakage incidents. Present these modifications in an uplifting context, focusing on all the benefits they will experience rather than incorrectly framing it as forcing them to give up enjoyable habits cold turkey. 

For example, explain how becoming more active with daily walks, stretches, or strength training would decrease accidents thanks to improved muscle tone. Furthermore, you may offer to alter your eating habits and fitness regimen so they don’t feel singled out in making difficult adjustments. 

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5. Help Set Up Their Environment 

Making minor but meaningful modifications around the home to fit their unique needs goes a long way in building confidence, comfort, and accessibility. 

Install sturdy grab bars near toilets and in showers or tubs for stability getting on and off or entering/exiting. Use rubberized non-slip bath mats on surfaces that may get wet to enable safe showering or bathing without risk of falls. For those with mobility challenges, install shower benches or chairs so they can comfortably bathe while preserving energy. 

Ensure clear, well-lit paths between the bedroom, bathroom, and everyday living areas by removing clutter, area rugs, or uneven surfaces. This allows urgent, direct access without obstruction. Place portable commodes with handlebars near bedrooms or living spaces for easy use around the clock. 

Assess the height of toilet seats and consider risers if lowering or raising them is an issue. Evaluate night light placement as well so bathroom trips are less disorienting. Open cabinet doors can pose hazards for those with vision or balance problems, so consider child-proof latches. Installing handrails along walls provides stability in transitioning between spaces. 

6. Support an Incontinence Management Plan 

An effective plan detailing bathroom trips, clothing choices, diaper usage, medication timing, and backup options during outings reduces anxious guesswork. Develop this schedule jointly following the doctor’s input about safe time intervals between toilet use. 

Help remember to plan details unobtrusively, like keeping diapers easily available in different rooms, placing medication reminders, giving gentle prompts to use the bathroom proactively before the urge builds, etc. Check in about progress respectfully. Revise parts needing adjustment without criticism. Having your reliable support boosts their confidence in following the plan. 

Wrapping Up 

Dealing with incontinence poses many physical and emotional burdens. While symptoms may worsen over time, showing unconditional compassion helps the person preserve dignity and optimism during challenging moments. Your patient, non-judgmental support provides invaluable comfort. 

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