Caring for Loved Ones with Nighttime Incontinence
Sleep. One-third of our life should be so simple. Sleep is healing, restorative, and vitally important to every physical and cognitive human function, including health. Without it, the body can’t work, create, execute a plan or have meaningful social interactions. There are few moments as gratifying as waking up fully rested and restored to start the day. Why, then is good sleep so difficult to come by for many of us, especially as we age? Many states of disease or un-wellness can be accompanied by sleep difficulties Add the challenge of having multiple illnesses, incontinence or dementia issues and sleep can be even more difficult. Let’s talk about the often uncomfortable subject of incontinence, ways to manage it, and tips for promoting a better night sleep for those we care for.
Issues with moderate to severe urinary incontinence are more common in women, can increase with age and affect 1 in 3 older adults. Incontinence impacts work and socialization, self-esteem, and can lead to depression and isolation. The greater need for personal care related to incontinence is also a leading cause of transition into a long-term care facility which can lead to the financial burden. So, what do you do when an aging loved one begins having issues with incontinence? Although conversations about the problem are often difficult, an open and accepting dialog is crucial. First, make an appointment with their primary care physician or nurse practitioner to rule out underlying medical conditions. The problem is NOT a normal part of aging. They can often offer advice, talk about progression and discuss treatment options that may include medication or a referral for a bladder/bowel retraining program. Simple interventions at home are also very effective and vital to treatment.
Next, with your loved one, determine the nature of the issue and what times of day they are most affected. An incontinence product specialist can help you choose the right day and night products to trial until a preferred choice is made. What do you call them? “Adult Diaper” is NOT the best choice. Calling absorbent products “briefs” or “disposable underwear” helps to maintain dignity. Product needs may change over time so re-evaluate often. Incontinence episodes can be irritating to delicate skin, leading to skin breakdown and infection. Choose super-absorbent products that use the latest technology. Although the cost is often higher, choosing the best product will minimize leaking and odor, keep delicate skin dry and lead to improved dignity and confidence. Because super-absorbent products need to be changed less often, longer periods of uninterrupted sleep at night leave loved-ones rested and more engaged in their environment, and their relationships.
Improving sleep patterns can help keep loved ones healthier longer and even reduce the risk of illness and dementia. Also, encourage good sleep patterns and sleep hygiene by discussing preferences, allowing for plenty of sunlight during the day, and minimizing distractions like TV before bed. Discuss giving medications or checking blood sugars at times that will allow for extended nighttime sleep with their healthcare provider. Reducing lights and noise can also help to reset a patient’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
To determine which incontinence products are right for you, take our online “quiz” or call our customer service professionals. (The online quiz for Tranquility products can be found here)They are ready to answer your questions, help you find the perfect product for your needs, and give you some encouragement. We offer Tranquility Premium Overnight Products in a variety of styles to give you peace of mind and a good night’s sleep.
Dealing with incontinence is a team effort. Armed with the right information and the right products can help ease the negative effects on dignity and self-esteem, maintain skin health and increase longer periods of sleep at night. Make sure you discuss these issues with other members of the family and join an online or face-face support community to share ideas and experiences. Together the best incontinence management solutions can be found for YOUR loved one.
By: Melissa Napier, MS, BSN