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Urinary Incontinence

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The topic of urinary incontinence is a broad subject, the scope of which I cannot fully address here.  In the presence of early stage Alzheimer’s, however, it can be a delicate and emotional issue.

Most older adults don’t look forward to the day that they’ll need to discuss private bodily functions with their children.  Add in some denial, resistance to change, and lack of insight into consequences found in the early stage, and the topic of incontinence can quickly become an embarrassing hot button trigger.

Likewise, most adult children find the idea of talking about personal hygiene issues with their parents highly unnatural.  Role reversing can be an awkward and difficult journey.

But if you’re noticing an odor, rinsed out undergarments hanging in the shower, and soiled furniture, something needs to be done.

It is important to have “the conversation”, at least once, and suggest a medical examination by a physician.  A common misconception about incontinence is that is a normal part of aging.  It is not.  Incontinence can be a symptom of a bigger problem, or it can be a smaller easily managed problem.  The take home message is that it needs to be addressed by a medical professional.

If you, as the caregiver, run into resistance regarding the management of incontinence, I do not have a magic fix for this.  I can suggest that you avoid verbal conflict, validate the person’s feelings, and plant the seed.  You may just go ahead and purchase incontinence garments or pads and place them in a conspicuous location in the bathroom.  Play a subtle hand by leaving a nonthreatening hint.  Sometimes initiation needs to come from within.

It sometimes takes a few rounds to get the message across and achieve compliance by the individual.  Gentle persistence, or even a suggestion by a third objective party, may help your cause.

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