Incontinence: The Cause of Senior Withdrawl?

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Incontinence: The Cause of Senior Withdrawl?

As seen in Healthy Living- Niagara this Week, Spring 2014 Issue.

If your elderly parent is withdrawing from family events and social situations, the silent embarrassment of incontinence may be the problem.

She hasn’t left her house more than ten times in the past 2 years, she tells me. She even missed her grandson’s wedding last summer, rather than risk it.

The “it” she’s referring to is having an incontinent episode; a leak of urine or feces while in a public location. The fear of such an embarrassing situation has kept this 80-something shut in at her one bedroom condo, relying on her daughter and her kind neighbours to deliver almost everything she needs – groceries, prescriptions, and even picking out birthday cards for her 3 great-grandchildren, which she mails religiously on time.

It’s the kind of heart-breaking story I hear too often working in a call center for a national direct-to-home retailer of adult incontinence products. 

Although incontinence is a very common problem, (the Canadian Continence Foundation estimates that more than 3 million Canadians are affected), people are often too embarrassed to discuss it with family or physicians. They’re frequently also too embarrassed to shop the “specialty” aisle at their local pharmacy, often relying on low-absorbency feminine hygiene products or DIY solutions that aren’t effective, and make the fear of leaks worse.

If you suspect your parent is withdrawing from the world because of a fear of incontinent episodes, there are things you can do to help:

1) Have an open and gentle talk. Many of my customers have said they feel relieved when their adult children bring the subject up for them.

2) Discuss with their doctor. Incontinence can be the symptom of many conditions, some of which can be improved or resolved completely.

3) Know your options. Adult incontinence products have come a long way from the cloth “diapers” of old. Today’s products are super absorbent and designed to prevent leaks in active adults. Look to online retailers for a wider range of sizes, styles and absorbencies than are found in pharmacies and big box stores, as well as discreet home delivery for your parent.

In the case of my caller, we were able to find her a product that eliminated leaks, and she was confidently looking forward to visiting family at Easter. 

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  • Jeremy Fallis
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