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Helping loved ones with incontinence

Incontinence can be a distressing problem to live with, and a taboo subject to discuss. Men with incontinence will often conceal their suffering, as they fear their friends, colleagues and family members finding out; some may even drop out of their social life.

If you love someone with incontinence you can support him by accepting his illness. Encourage him to speak openly about his problems, and let him know that it doesn’t affect how you see him.

Living with incontinence

Learning to control your bladder is an important step in child development. This association makes it hard for adults who lose this ability to cope, as they can feel that it reflects on their mental health or physical fitness.

Many men with incontinence are ashamed of their condition, and fear that those around them will notice their loss of control, seeing wet spots or smelling urine. This is one reason why they may start avoiding social activities and withdrawing from interaction with others.

Unlike women, who normally use personal products regularly, men are more likely to see incontinence as an attack on their self-image, and be reluctant to talk about the problem. This makes it much more likely that they will suffer from depression.

So talking about your loved one’s incontinence and addressing his problems is often the most important thing you can do to help. Sympathy and appreciation from friends and family can help men open up and seek treatment. If they visit their GP they can get a diagnosis, allowing them to get the right treatment and find incontinence supplies that fit their needs.

Talking to the doctor

Generally, men don’t feel comfortable bringing up incontinence problems with their doctor. They will often believe that this illness is simply age-related and inevitable, while not many are aware that there are effective treatments and secure, leak-proof incontinence products for men.

But speaking to the doctor is a vital step in overcoming the problems of incontinence. Your loved one can get a specific diagnosis that will mean he can start the right treatment and find incontinence supplies that fit his needs, such as disposable underwear, incontinence supplies, protective underwear or adult nappies.

You can help a great deal by encouraging him to talk about it. You can also support him while he prepares for his appointment and help him describe his symptoms in as much detail as possible. The doctor will ask about how often he urinates and whether his bladder feels completely empty after urinating. You can also help by watching his drinking patterns and how often he goes to the loo so he can include this info.

Creating a daily routine

People with urinary incontinence tend not to drink enough. You can help by encouraging your loved one to drink plenty of water throughout the day. The body needs around 1.5 to 2 litres every day. Lack of fluids can mean that the bladder muscle is undertrained, which can lead to problems with constipation. Encouraging him to go to the toilet regularly can help to reduce involuntary leaks.

Working out can help too. Exercise helps us to stay fit and can help control bladder function. So you could encourage your loved one to go for a walk or to the gym. Some types of incontinence can be lessened by exercise. Kegels are exercises that help you zero in on and strengthen muscles below the bladder that help control urination.

Create a routine out of popping to the loo before leaving the house, so that he sets off with an empty bladder. Allow for this time in daily plans and don’t hurry him, so he doesn’t feel his incontinence is causing a problem.

When you go out together, take incontinence supplies with you. You can help your loved one feel comfortable with this and that it’s natural to carry incontinence products. This could include carrying extra plastic bags just in case there’s no bin in the toilet.

Making changes at home

Making incontinence feel natural and part of your everyday life can help a lot. But often the most simple things are overlooked, like making space in the bathroom cabinet for incontinence supplies, or having a large enough waste bin to throw them away.

Another easy adjustment is to make sure the toilet’s always accessible in a hurry. Clear the way of obstacles and trip hazards. Look out for loose cables, furniture, shoes or toys. If your loved one suffers from urge incontinence, every second counts.

Urge incontinence can also be a problem at night while you’re sleeping. Having a night light to illuminate the way to the loo can be helpful and prevent injuries.

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