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Tips & Advice if Your Loved One has Mental Illness

The person I care for is physically able, but due to mental illness cannot ensure accidents don't happen.

Try to be calm and reassuring.

If your loved one has a mental condition such as dementia or nerve damage that prevents them from recognizing the need to visit the bathroom, it can be quite distressing for them when they have accidents. It helps to de-dramatize the situation if you can make sure any accident is dealt with quickly, calmly and with respect for their personal dignity.

Provide them with good incontinence protection.

The right incontinence products will help ensure leaks are absorbed and feces and odor are contained, helping to protect your loved one's clothes, their living environment and their dignity. Incontinence protection products come in a range of sizes and absorbencies for men and women. Many people find that incontinence underwear products that pull up like ordinary underwear is more acceptable to people with a degree of mental confusion, as it helps them feel more 'normal.' See the Products section to see the full range of TENA® incontinence products. Learn about The TENA Advantage to find out more about how TENA® can help provide good incontinence protection.

Fluid intake

Your loved one may be tempted to drink less, but this can make the urine more concentrated, aggravating the bladder and making it more active. Encourage them to drink as normal, responding to their natural thirst. This should be enough to keep the urine a healthy, pale straw color. As you might expect, drinking too much will just increase the urge to 'go,' so just try and keep a healthy balance.

Be aware that some drinks have a diuretic effect.

Of course you don't want to curb your loved one's pleasures, but be aware that caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks are diuretics that will make them need to visit the bathroom more.

Regular visits to the bathroom will help reduce accidents.

If your loved one forgets they need to visit the bathroom, try and give them regular reminders throughout the day and before going to bed. Depending on their mental state, you may need to take them to the bathroom yourself, in which case helping them select clothing that is easily removed, such as wide skirts and drawstring trousers can also make going to the bathroom easier.

Changing and hygiene

Your loved one may be alert to accidents once they have happened and be able to change themselves, or you may need to offer a helping hand. Either way, ensure fresh protective incontinence products are within easy reach in the bathroom, and that you have a lidded trash can for used products. Incontinence underwear products that tear at the sides help make changing quick and clean, and wet wipes can prove easier and gentler on the skin than standard toilet paper.

Skin care

Urine can irritate the skin, which in the case of the elderly, can be particularly sensitive. Protective incontinence products with high absorbency and that quickly draw urine away from the skin, even when the person is seated for long periods, will help reduce the risk of skin irritation. If you are worried about your loved one's skin sensitivity, look in the Products section for incontinence protection designed to reduce the risk of skin irritation. TENA® skin-caring creams and wipes also promote healthy skin.

Establish a routine for you and your loved one.

People with poor memory skills or impaired mental health tend to feel much safer if they have an established routine, and this can help reduce accidents for those who do manage to go to the bathroom themselves from time to time. So it is worth establishing a routine in terms of mealtimes, visits to the bathroom, naps and leisure activities such as taking a walk or watching TV. You should also build in time-out for yourself where your loved one gets used to time when they are on their own, if they can be, or with another caregiver from time to time. Even if the person you care for does very little all day, a fixed routine may help reduce accidents.

Get a helping hand from a local organization or charity.

There may already be adult daycare centers or healthcare organizations in your area. If so, they could give you the chance to leave your loved one in caring hands so you can take a break for a few hours. Another advantage is that your loved one gets a chance to socialize with the other attendees. Many of these organizations offer transportation, run regular group activities such as day trips, and prepare snacks. They may even provide a 'meals on wheels' service.

* 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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