10 tips for providing better incontinence care for people with dementia

Providing care at home for an elderly relative, loved one, or friend with bladder incontinence issues is an all-consuming task. If this person also has dementia, this only adds to the challenge. With a dementia diagnosis, the normal issues that need to be addressed when helping seniors – assisting with bathroom visits, using incontinence products, and monitoring skin health – take on a new dimension.

At TENA, our incontinence briefs, pads, skincare and other products help millions of caregivers manage urinary leakage and incontinence more effectively. They also let seniors live more comfortably and with dignity. However, before products come into the picture, there are some key facts about incontinence and dementia that need to be considered. In this situation, the loved one often finds him or herself –
  • Unable to communicate a need to use the bathroom
  • Unable to find, recognize, or use a toilet
  • Refusing help because they are ashamed or embarrassed, which leads to accidental voiding
As a caregiver, it’s important you understand and recognize these situations. At the same time, you should also know that there are many things you can do to increase the quality of care you provide. The list we’ve compiled below will hopefully help you increase the quality of life for your relative or loved one and help you cope better with a little less stress.  
  1. ENCOURAGE - encourage the person in your care to ask for help, get them involved and inform them of what you’re doing. It’s important to get their approval and to feel that they are contributing to their own care.

  2. LIGHT - leave the bathroom door open and lights on at night. Light-motion sensors are also great if this is an option, as is a commode by the bed.

  3. COLOR CODING - mark the toilet, light switch, and toilet seat in some way using contrasting colors – color coding is excellent for jogging the memory and a colored, contrasting toilet seat can also be useful for positioning.

  4. PRACTICAL CLOTHING - clothes that can be easily put on and taken off are a great help.

  5. CHOOSE SUITABLE INCONTINENCE PRODUCTS - if your relative or loved one is using incontinence products, briefs could be the best alternative due to their ease of use. Also, choose carefully in terms of size and absorption capacity.

  6. DON’T SKIP BATHROOM VISITS – if they have an accident, the feeling of embarrassment could remain with them and affect future bathroom planning.

  7. FOLLOW A ROUTINE - 4-6 times a day and perhaps a visit at night are common for those over 60. However, use common sense and try to be flexible.

  8. NO SUBSTITUTE FOR THE TOILET - never use incontinence products as a substitute for bathroom visits.

  9. BE POSITIVE - giving praise and maintaining a positive attitude works wonders.

  10. EMPTY BLADDER CORRECTLY - when visiting the bathroom, make sure the bladder is emptied as much as possible – you can read some handy tips on this below.

Four tips for more effective bladder emptying

For people affected by incontinence, emptying the bladder completely during a bathroom visit has many benefits. Doing this effectively reduces the chances of bacteria thriving in remaining urine and causing urinary and skin infections – and from a care perspective, it means your loved one is more comfortable and the practical burden on you can be reduced. However, if this person suffers from dementia and incontinence, this can create new challenges. Here are our top four tips to more effective bladder emptying in these circumstances.
  1. Take time - don’t rush it and make sure it’s peaceful and quiet. Help your loved one find a good sitting posture by supporting the feet and enabling them to lean forward. You can also help them reposition a couple of times.
  2. Use a pillow - in case of frailness or thinness, use a soft pillow-ring to make the toilet seat comfortable. 

  3. Show how it’s done – it could be that the dementia sufferer simply doesn’t know what you want them to do. In this case, show them how to sit on the toilet.

  4. Apps can help – mobile phone apps that replicate the sound of running water are available. These can be used to facilitate voiding.
It’s important to understand the special needs of the person with dementia, apply our tips every day and help them void more effectively. We hope this information makes a positive difference to the life of your loved one as well as for you as a caregiver.
For more information on how TENA products can help your relative or loved one, click here.