Tips & Advice if Your Loved One has Mental Illness and is Physically Disabled

My loved one has mental illness and is physically unable to wash, dress or manage the bathroom themselves.

Try to be calm and reassuring

Much depends on the degree of physical or mental impairment your loved one is experiencing. You may be caring for an individual with very limited recognition of or responsiveness to their incontinence and your efforts to help them. Those with dementia may have a heightened sense of awareness and become alarmed by the intimacy of continuing care. When toileting hygiene is provided quickly, calmly and with respect for the person's personal dignity, that care becomes less alarming.

Provide good incontinence protection

Proper incontinence protection ensures leaks are absorbed and feces and odor are contained, helping to preserve dignity and protect your loved one's clothing, bedding and living environment. You and your loved one can choose from a range of incontinence products in absorbencies and sizes comfortable for men and women. Many people prefer incontinence underwear products that pull up like regular underwear. This is especially true for those able to stand up while being changed. If your loved one needs to be changed while reclining, there are incontinence products such as TENA® briefs for men and briefs for women that help make that process easier. Our TENA® Stretch briefs have been specifically designed to make the process quicker and easier on the loved one and less strenuous on the caregiver's back. See the Products section to view the full range of TENA® incontinence care products. Visit The TENA Advantage to find out more about how TENA® can help provide good incontinence protection.

Create the right environment

This will depend on the loved one's physical requirements. For individuals who use a wheelchair to reach the bathroom, make certain the route to the bathroom is unobstructed. Clothing that is easy to remove helps them feel more self-reliant and can make your assistance easier. Wide skirts, draw strings and hook and loop fasteners may be preferable. A lidded trash can in the bathroom or bedroom for used product makes for a more pleasant atmosphere.

Changing and hygiene

Always keep fresh protective products within easy reach of the bed or toilet. Underwear products that tear at the sides provide convenient and clean removal for an individual who can be changed while assisted standing. Our TENA® Stretch briefs have been specifically designed for the loved one who needs to be changed while reclining. This is easier for the individual being changed and the caregiver's back. Visit the Products section to view the full line of TENA® incontinence products.

Skin care

Urine and feces can be particularly irritating to elderly skin. High absorbency products that quickly draw moisture away from the skin help reduce the risk of skin irritation. This is especially true when the individual is seated or reclining for long periods of time. If you are worried about your loved one’s skin sensitivity, TENA® incontinence products are designed to reduce the risk of skin irritation. Wet wipes can prove easier and gentler on the skin than regular toilet paper, particularly when removing feces. View our full line of TENA® incontinence wipes and creams.

Fluid intake

Individuals with incontinence may be tempted to take in less fluids. This in turn can make the urine more concentrated, aggravating the bladder and making it more active. Encourage your loved one to drink normal quantities of liquids by responding to their natural thirst. This practice should be enough to keep the urine a healthy pale straw color. As you might expect, drinking too much will increase the urge to urinate so try to maintain a healthy balance.

Be aware that some drinks have a diuretic effect

You don't want to curb your loved one's little pleasures, but be aware that caffeine, alcohol and caffeinated fizzy drinks act as diuretics that will make them need to use the bathroom more often.

Establish a routine for you and your loved one

Individuals with impaired mental health tend to feel much safer if they have an established routine. You can reduce the loved one's anxiety if the changing routine feels familiar in terms of timing, the way it is done and the words that are said at the time of the change. By establishing a pattern your loved one knows what to expect at the time of the change and where it fits in with their meals, naps and other activities such as watching television. Be sure to build in "time-out" for yourself when you can hand off caregiving responsibility to another family member or caregiver who will follow your established routine.

Get a helping hand from a local organization or charity

Adult daycare centers or health care organizations may exist in your area. They can give you a chance to place your loved one in caring hands so you can take a break for a few hours. Many of these organizations provide transportation and some offer snacks or meal service.

If you have a specific question relating to incontinence care, you can ask one of our Specialist Nurses.

* The site does not offer medical advice and nothing contained in the site is intended to constitute professional advice for medical diagnosis or treatment.

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