How to Help the Incontinent Patient

A great deal can be done to help the incontinent patient who, already humiliated and distressed, must not also be made to feel a nuisance. The bladder tends to respond to a routine, so a regular visit to the lavatory every two or three hours may help. An alarm clock or kitchen “pinger” can be used as a reminder. Patients should be encouraged to drink, for cutting down on fluids makes the condition worse, not better. However, it is sensible to control fluid intake late in the day.

It is important to avoid constipation: include fresh fruit, vegetables and fibre in the patient’s diet every day.

When urine is passed involuntarily, attend to the patient promptly. Wash and dry the skin thoroughly but gently, and apply a waterproof cream. If the patient is up and about, special pants with disposable liners can be used, but these may not be a satisfactory full-time solution as plastic causes sweating, which can lead to soreness. During the night, absorbent drawsheets and pads may be advisable. A urinal or commode can be left near the bed for the patient’s use.

Supplementary benefits are available for extra expenses associated with incontin­ence, such as laundry, heating, bedding replacement, floor coverings or special clothing. Many areas run a laundry service for the incontinent patient, washing and drying (but not ironing) bedlinen, night-clothes and underclothes. Collection and delivery are arranged on a regular basis

Where incontinence cannot be treated, personal protection is essential. To feel dry and confident of being odour-free is a morale-booster. Machine washable shoes or plastic shoes that can be scrubbed help to prevent odour. Advice and many aids can be obtained through the family practitioner, community nursing sister or health visitor. Unfortunately, many patients and relatives are too embarrassed to seek advice. They tend to isolate them­selves as the laundry piles grow higher.

As a volunteer you can do much to make people aware of the help available. You may also be in a position to help and encourage relatives who feel incontinence is a problem to be tackled only by professionals, and are therefore reluctant to admit any responsi­bility themselves for supporting the patient.

Filed Under: Health & Personal Care


About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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