Many people are faced with the uncomfortable feeling of how to deal with an incontinent parent. This is one of those uncomfortable conversations that we all like to avoid, but it is also a conversation that needs to be addressed.
The first step to fixing a problem is realizing the problem exists. Dealing with an incontinent parent is not as hard as it may seem. Although the topic of incontinence is embarrassing, you are both in this together. Avoid denying there is a problem with incontinence, and address the problem with your incontinent parent. Let them know that you understand it is embarrassing for them, and if you both do not take steps to correct the problem it can become much more embarrassing in the future.
Do not assume that your parent is doing it on purpose, or using it as a control method. Be supportive of your loved one, and help them feel more secure about their incontinence. Schedule a doctor's appointment for a check-up. There may be other unknown medical problems causing the issue, such as urinary tract infection, bladder infection, etc.
Communicate about the problem - Use Phrases Like:
“I understand this is embarrassing for you, we are in this together, and I want to help you.”
“Nobody likes talking about bodily functions, so let's not give others a reason to.”
“You are not alone, there are other people who are also incontinent. You may have not heard about it, because it is something no one likes to talk about.”
“It's not a big deal, it's something we all have to deal with. My son/daughter will have to have this talk with me someday too.”
“You won't have to worry about embarrassing yourself anymore. I'm here to help you.”
Dealing with an incontinent parent
Communicate about incontinence with your parent(s)
Schedule a doctor's appointment
Check clothing – elastic vs. buttons/zippers
Use waterproof mattress pads on beds
Set up a toilet schedule
Watch fluid intake before bedtime
Learn more about incontinence products (depends, etc.)
Dealing with incontinence gets easier over time. The initial recognition, and communication is the most difficult step in the process. Once incontinence is accepted for what it is, it becomes a more natural part of life. For instance, buying a box of depends is just as embarrassing as buying a box of tampons. After awhile, it is no longer embarrassing. Acceptance is the biggest obstacle to overcome. Going to the bathroom in your pants is considered dirty, and it is embarrassing. It is much more embarrassing when it is announced in public without protection. No one knows whether or not a person is wearing depends. Everyone who lives long enough will eventually wear a pair of depends. We should be thankful we have that opportunity.