Incontinence is starting to become a factor with my mother. What should I do?

This can be one of the more difficult aspects of dealing with Alzheimer’s. Beyond its usual challenges, incontinence typically sets in during the middle to late stages of the disease. It can be a permanent or temporary condition.

Discuss the situation with your physician. Have him or her check for possible contributing conditions that could be causing the problem. This could include a bladder infection or urinary tract infection. Once health-related possibilities are ruled out, it can be assumed the condition has set in permanently.

In that case, it’s time to consider incontinence products. By being prepared with proper adult briefs or other products, your mother can avert embarrassing episodes if she has an accident. Consult a physician or other clinician for how to deal with the incontinence — many people incorrectly stop trying to conduct regular bathroom visits just because their loved one is wearing a brief, for example. When a brief gets wet, it should be changed as quickly as possible, to avert skin irritation and breakdown. At this time, the skin should be thoroughly cleaned with a wet cloth and dried.

Red or irritated skin can be a warning sign of further problems down the line. Observe this condition closely! Should sores begin to develop, seek immediate medical help! Nothing good comes of compromised skin integrity, and once it starts to go, it can be a quick decline.

If your mother sits in one place for long periods of time, have her shift positions frequently to redistribute the pressure on affected areas. The weight should be repositioned somehow so it doesn’t remain in the same place for too long. Get your mother up and have her walk — even a short distance — around the house or yard. This will relieve pressure bearing areas and get blood recirculation, both of which are very helpful. Changing chairs and lying down (if previously seated) also can be helpful.

If her physician writes an order for an evaluation from a home health agency, take it seriously. The agency can make home visits. A nurse will take stock of the overall situation and set a plan of action in place accordingly. These recommendations should help everyone involved — your loved one as the “patient” and you and others who are caregivers. More success will mean less stress, and that, too, is very desirable.

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