Discussion About Incontinence
If you are the caregiver for an elderly loved one with incontinence it can be a difficult discussion to have. This is an especially difficult topic for adult children to start with their aging parents. Due to the intimate nature of this problem there can be embarrassment on the part of the caregiver, and shame on the part of the senior. However, there are ways that can make having this discussion better, and more effective. Here is what you need to know about how to discuss incontinence with an elderly loved one.
Do your research – Incontinence is far more than just a lack of control over bodily functions. There can be a myriad number of reasons that the senior in your life is experiencing incontinence. The good news is that there are a variety of treatment options. Informing yourself about the topic of incontinence before you begin the discussion can go a long way toward making it much more productive.
Show your loved one you are their advocate, not their adversary – It is important to make sure that the tone of the discussion shows the senior in your care that you are on their side. Let them know that together you will both find the best solution for managing the incontinence. You should also stress that incontinence is not a normal part of aging but rather is most often brought on by conditions that are treatable and manageable. You should also stress the importance of a medical evaluation in order to receive a diagnosis and begin treatment.
Use the correct wording – It is important to discuss this issue like the medical problem that it is. Using euphemisms or sly references, only serves to demean the person who is involved. While it takes courage to sometimes face the harshness of the situation, both the caregiver and the senior in their care will do better if the discussion is made in a matter of fact, medically based, and adult manner.
Incorporate humor when appropriate – Many time’s seniors with incontinence have been trying to manage this problem on their own. This can be a frustrating and overwhelming process especially if they are failing. You need to make sure that the senior in your care understands that while this problem is serious, and you take it seriously, that it will not affect your relationship. Using humor when appropriate can help to bond the relationship between caregiver and senior even when you are dealing with the challenges of incontinence.
Avoid avoidance – If you are a caregiver for a senior with incontinence even after educating yourself, you may still want to avoid having this discussion. Whether out of embarrassment or fear of hurting your loved one’s feelings you may think that by saying nothing you are doing them a favor. However, you need to keep in mind that saying nothing only worsens the situation for the senior. In addition, this may also leave a medical condition untreated that could be serious and potentially life threatening.