Dementia and Incontinence
Individuals with dementia are often at a higher risk of suffering from incontinence, usually as a result of memory loss or difficulties thinking, problem solving, or understanding language. They may suffer from functional incontinence (an inability to physically get to the bathroom in time) due to being unable to react quickly enough to the urge to void the bladder or evacuate the bowels. They may also experience difficulty in communicating to a caregiver or loved one the need to go to the washroom.
Depending on the severity of the dementia the individual suffers from, they may be confused about their surroundings and be unable to locate a washroom, or mistake objects or places for toilets.
There may also be the issue of either failing to be able to properly remove their clothing or perform personal hygiene, or will refuse to let others help them in either finding the toilet or help them remove clothing or perform proper hygiene, due either to embarrassment or confusion. There’s also the potential for confusion and embarrassment after an accident happens. Those with dementia will often hide soiled underwear or clothes, to be later forgotten.
To help someone with dementia use the toilet easier, you can do a number of things including:
- Help them identify, locate, move to, and use the toilet (especially if they have mobility issues)
- Clearly mark the bathroom and toilet with large, easily readable and recognizable signs and colours
- Install mobility aids such as hand grips, rails, and supports for balance.
- Encourage the use of pants without zippers or buttoms that instead have elasticized waistbands.
As dementia progresses, incontinence usually becomes more severe, requiring the use of absorbent incontinence products such as:
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