How to deal with elderly incontinence at night – 7 Tips for Carers
Elderly incontinence at night is a common issue that often warrants a discussion.
This is because, even though it’s not a comfortable topic to talk about, it’s something that many elderly people experience.
It’s important to remember that night time incontinence is a natural part of getting older and that there are many ways to manage it.
With the right strategies, urinary incontinence in the elderly can be manageable and doesn’t have to be a source of discomfort or embarrassment.
7 Tips for carers to deal with elderly incontinence at night
1. Talk openly about urinary incontinence and its effects
Urinary incontinence can be a difficult subject to discuss, but everyone involved must be aware of the issue and its impact on daily life.
This can help to normalize the condition and reduce the stigma that often comes with it.
It can be tough to deal with, but it’s important to get all the information you need to find the best solution to manage urinary incontinence.
Discussing urinary incontinence openly can help carers deal with elderly patients in several ways.
It can help to build trust between the caregiver and the patient.
Open communication can help to ensure that both the carer and the patient are on the same page when it comes to managing urinary incontinence.
It can help carers better understand their patient’s needs and preferences.
This can lead to more effective caregiving and a better quality of life for the patient.
It will help ensure that everyone involved is as comfortable as possible and that no one feels overwhelmed or unsupported.
This also provides caregivers with important information about their patient’s condition, such as how often they experience episodes of incontinence and what might trigger them.
This information can help caregivers create better care plans and manage the condition more effectively.
Talking about urinary incontinence openly can help to reduce the stigma associated with the condition, which can in turn make it easier for patients to seek help and treatment.
This includes family members, caregivers, their primary care doctor and other healthcare professionals.
2. Help create a plan to manage incontinence
Once the extent of the problem is known, work with everyone involved to develop a plan to manage it.
Encourage them to drink plenty of fluids during the day.
Drinking fluids throughout the day will help keep them hydrated and may reduce the number of episodes of night time incontinence.
This may include fluid and diet management (changes to diet and fluid intake), scheduling regular bathroom breaks and using absorbent products.
Make sure they avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime
Caffeine and alcohol can act as diuretics and worsen incontinence.
Drinking excessive amounts of coffee and alcohol causes dehydration and an increase in the number of episodes of nighttime incontinence.
Promote bathroom independence
Encourage patients to use the toilet before going to bed.
If possible, help them to the bathroom and wait outside the door in case they need assistance.
If they are unable to get to the bathroom on their own, use a bedside commode or portable toilet.
3. Encourage regular exercise and stay active during the day
Exercise helps improve bladder control and reduces the risk of UTIs.
This will help keep their bladder muscles strong and less likely to give out at night.
Some good exercises include walking and pelvic floor exercises.
Mild exercises like walking are ideal but speak to a healthcare professional for a tailored program.
Kegel exercises (pelvic floor muscle exercises) are a great way for the elderly to manage incontinence because they help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
These muscles are responsible for controlling the flow of urine, so strengthening them can help to reduce or even prevent leaks.
Bladder control training and kegel exercises can be done anywhere, anytime, and no one will even know you’re doing them.
To do a kegel, simply clench your pelvic floor muscles for five seconds and then release.
Repeat this pelvic floor muscle strengthening exercise 10 times, three times a day as part of their bladder training routine.
4. Keep a night light on in the bedroom
Night lights help to minimize the need for turning on bright lights during the night, which can disrupt sleep.
They also help individuals who may have difficulty seeing in the dark to navigate their way around more easily.
Keeping a light on can help them orient themselves and avoid bumping into things as they move around in the dark.
For elderly individuals with incontinence, this can be a great way to maintain independence and reduce the risk of accidents.
This is especially helpful if they have trouble seeing in the dark.
Night lights can also help them feel more secure and safe in their own homes.
5. Help maintain a positive outlook
It’s natural for feelings of frustration, embarrassment or anger to surface with incontinence, but try to encourage a positive outlook as much as possible.
Maintaining a positive outlook can be a great way for elderly individuals to manage incontinence.
Elderly individuals who remain upbeat tend to cope better with health problems and enjoy a higher quality of life.
A positive attitude can help you manage your incontinence symptoms, reducing stress and making the situation more manageable.
A positive attitude can help individuals stay motivated to stick to their treatment plan and cope with any challenges they may face.
This can help improve mood and overall quality of life.
By focusing on the positive aspects of life, the carer can help make managing incontinence in the elderly easier.
Provide emotional support
Caring for someone with incontinence can be challenging both physically and emotionally.
People with incontinence can feel embarrassed and alone, especially if they’re not used to talking about it.
But by providing emotional support, you can help them feel more comfortable and connected.
This can make a big difference in their quality of life, as they won’t feel as isolated or ashamed.
Plus, knowing that they have your support can give them the strength to keep trying to manage their condition.
6. Use incontinence products
If all else fails, using incontinence products may be necessary to keep your loved one dry at night.
One of the best ways that elderly people can manage their incontinence is by wearing incontinence pads.
There is no shame in needing to wear incontinence pads.
Incontinence pads help to absorb any urine that may leak, and they can help to keep the person feeling dry and comfortable.
It will give the elderly person more confidence to go out and about, and socialize without the worry that they may embarrass themselves in public.
This means still being active and exercising at the gym without worrying about incontinence episodes occurring.
Wearing incontinence pads can help to protect the person’s clothing from getting wet or stained.
There are many different types available, so talk to your doctor about which would be best for them.
Maintaining a routine outside of their home will improve their mental health and well-being as well.
Keep a bedside potty or container nearby
This will allow the person with incontinence to quickly and easily relieve themselves without having to get out of bed.
Promote good hygiene practices
Incontinence can be a challenging issue for any age group, but it can be especially difficult for elderly people.
One of the best ways to manage incontinence is to practice good hygiene habits.
This includes bathing or showering daily, using mild soap and clean towels.
It’s also important to dry thoroughly, especially in the genital area.
Wearing clean cotton underwear can help keep the area dry and comfortable which will prevent irritation of the skin.
It is also recommended that bedding is changed often.
7. Seek professional help if necessary
If urinary incontinence in older people is proving difficult to manage, seek professional help from a urinary specialist (urologist) or primary care doctor to treat incontinence.
Keep a bladder diary
This will allow you to track how often your loved one has an accident, as well as what might be causing them.
This information recorded in their bladder diary can then be shared with your doctor to help pinpoint any potential causes.
It can also alert their primary care doctor of any digestive and kidney diseases that are not apparent until much later in the disease progression.
They can provide advice and treatment options that may help improve quality of life.
The urinary specialist will conduct a physical examination and a full evaluation of the elderly patient.
This will include the standard urine test, screening for signs of bacterial infection in the bladder, measuring bladder capacity, bladder ultrasound and more specific and comprehensive tests.
Causes of elderly incontinence
Some common ones include:
Urinary tract infections
Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are a common cause of elderly incontinence.
When someone has a UTI, their bladder becomes inflamed and irritated.
This can lead to an inability to control urination, even during the night.
UTIs can be treated with antibiotics, which can help to relieve the inflammation and restore bladder control.
Constipation is a common problem in the elderly, and it can lead to incontinence.
When you’re constipated, your bowels become dry and hard, and it can be difficult to have a bowel movement.
This can cause stool to back up in your intestines, and cause discomfort and pain, which can also lead to incontinence.
If you’re elderly and are experiencing constipation, be sure to talk to your doctor about ways to relieve the problem.
There are many treatments available, including medications, dietary changes, and exercise.
Bladder or prostate problems
Bladder and prostate problems are two of the main causes of elderly incontinence in men.
As men age, their prostate gland may enlarge (benign prostatic hyperplasia), which can lead to urinary problems, such as difficulty urinating and a more frequent urge to urinate.
There is also an increased risk of developing prostate cancer in elderly men with increasing age.
The bladder muscles may weaken with age, making it difficult to hold urine for long periods.
This can result in accidental leakage or even full-blown episodes of incontinence.
There are a few reasons why diabetes can lead to incontinence in the elderly.
For one, high blood sugar levels can damage the nerves that control the bladder, leading to problems with urination.
Diabetes can also cause kidney problems, which can lead to an accumulation of toxins in the body that can also affect bladder function.
This condition can also lead to bladder infections, which can further aggravate the issue of incontinence.
People with diabetes are often more sedentary, which can also lead to urinary incontinence.
Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease
Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease can be a cause of elderly incontinence.
These diseases can affect the way the brain communicates with the bladder, leading to problems with controlling urination.
As these and other diseases such as severe dementia progress, they can cause changes in mood and behavior that may lead to accidental wetting and urine leaks.
If you are caring for elderly patients who have a cognitive impairment, be sure to keep an eye on their urinary habits and alert their doctor if any changes occur.
Frequently asked questions
Can you cure incontinence
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to cure incontinence depends on its cause.
However, several strategies can help improve or cure incontinence, including:
– Exercising regularly
– Eating a healthy diet
– Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake
– Quitting smoking
– Training pelvic floor muscles
What are the 4 types of incontinence
There are 4 types of incontinence: urge, stress, overflow and functional.
Urge incontinence is the most common type and is caused by a strong urge to urinate that can’t be controlled.
Stress incontinence is when urine leaks due to pressure on the bladder, such as from coughing, sneezing or exercise.
Overflow incontinence is when the bladder can’t hold all the urine, so some leaks out.
Functional incontinence is when a person has trouble getting to the bathroom in time because of physical or mental limitations.