1st February is Dignity Action Day
Dignity Action Day gives everyone the opportunity to contribute to upholding people's rights to dignity and provide a truly memorable day for people receiving care. Dignity Action Day aims to ensure people who use care services are treated as individuals and are given choice, control and a sense of purpose in their daily lives. #DAD2023
On this day we want to share tips on Managing Incontinence with Dignity
As a child we are toilet trained and it never occurs to us that we might leak when we sneeze or laugh, or that we might not be able to make it to the toilet on time. Hence, when we start facing thessymptoms we are reluctant to discuss them with our loved ones, family, friends or doctors.
Within ourselves we end up feeling frustrated, frightened and embarrassed. We often stop going out of the house, to do things that we enjoy because we are afraid that we might have an ‘accident’. We stop spending time with our family or friends to do things that we enjoy the most. People living in nursing or care homes will only go to activities near a bathroom or not attend them at all.
Each of these changes results in loss of dignity and self-worth and, therefore, reduces the person’s quality of life.
We need to know and remember that we are not alone and millions of people around the world face similar symptoms to ours. It is important to know and remember that incontinence is not a disease it is a symptom that can be easily managed to live a dignified and active life.
How to manage incontinence with confidence?
Often people find it hard to talk about incontinence but it is the first step towards getting help. There are many ways to manage and treat incontinence in order to help people live independent and dignified lives.
Tips to manage incontinence by yourself:
- If you are trying to manage incontinence on your own, you may be reluctant to go out, or engage in activities as you might be worried that you might not be able to locate or access a toilet on time when the need may rise. Carrying protection with you, such as incontinence pads or extra underwear, can give you confidence. You can even order Just Cannot Wait Card to access any toilet when out and about from Bladder and Bowel Org - https://www.bladderandbowel.org/help-information/just-cant-wait-card/
- Today there are many products to help deal with incontinence. Many of them offer the privacy and convenience of home delivery including incontinence containment pads, adult incontinence underwear, bedpads, commodes etc. Always discuss your options with your healthcare provider.
- Half of the challenge in managing incontinence is by understanding its causes and possible treatments that are out there to help you live your life with dignity and independence. Talking with your loved ones, family, friends, carers, healthcare professionals about the challenges, helps to normalize the situation. Open discussions about incontinence will help remove stigma associated with incontinence.
- A Healthcare professional or caregiver can suggest ways to deal with incontinence while maintaining the privacy and independence. This could include medications, treatments or wearing incontinence containment pads.
Tips for carers, family, friends who are helping someone manage incontinence:
- Start by logging in the time of ‘accidents’ when you are providing care for someone. Keep a close watch if the person cannot tell you. If they can tell you then ask them frequently to start with if they need to visit the toilet or require help with changing. You can help keep a Bladder and Bowel Dairy, which can be downloaded from the following link - https://www.bladderandbowel.org/downloads/ . The Bladder and Bowel Diary should be used to keep track of the actual times the person urinates or has ‘accidents’.
Discuss effective ways to prevent or reduce episodes of involuntary voiding and enhancing dignity by logging ‘accidents’ in the Bladder and Bowel Dairy over a few days to see the pattern. Then prompting and assisting with toileting at similar times that you have noted in the dairy and use of any incontinence prevention products. Remember, that each time you enable a person to be continent you greatly enhance his or her dignity.
- Assistance is the key to enable older adult to use the bathroom promptly. Assist with removal of clothing or suggest clothing with elastic or Velcro closures which can make toileting easy.
- Assist with transferring if required to and from the commode or toilet or with placement of urinal or bedpan. Assist if they need help with cleaning and changing if using an adult incontinence nappy or pants.
- Have a conversion with the person in your care about different ways that you might be able to help them manage their incontinence. This can encourage them to discuss their symptoms they might be facing in silence. A simple conversation can help change incontinence from an overwhelming situation into a simple fact of life which can be managed. This will also help to create a positive attitude towards life and give confidence to the individual to manage their incontinence symptoms.
With the appropriate support, informed choices and access to up to date advice, those living with incontinence can be helped to live life with dignity, self-esteem and independence.