Alzheimer`s and incontinence: Practical steps for caregivers

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a progressive, incurable brain disease that causes significant cognitive impairment. Symptoms of Alzheimer’s include memory loss, disorientation, and changes in mood and behavior. As the disease advances, these symptoms worsen, making it extremely difficult to complete tasks that were once routine. In the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease, even using the bathroom becomes a challenge, which is why up to 70% of Alzheimer’s patients struggle with incontinence issues.

While incontinence is common, there are strategies for managing it. By understanding the underlying causes of incontinence and taking steps to minimize the effects, caregivers can help Alzheimer’s patients feel more comfortable and improve their symptoms.

Understanding Alzheimer’s and Incontinence

To properly handle incontinence, it can be helpful for caregivers to understand what’s causing it.  There are many reasons why someone with Alzheimer’s experiences incontinence, some of which are treatable. A few underlying medical causes of incontinence include:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Constipation
  • Prostate problems
  • Medications

Treating these causes can have a significant impact on incontinence issues and possibly even eliminate them altogether.

How to Help Alzheimer’s Patients Manage Incontinence

Quite often, there are more complicated reasons for bowel or bladder control problems in Alzheimer’s patients. For example, they may no longer be able to recognize the need to use the toilet, they may have difficulty sitting down on the toilet, or they may not be able to get to the toilet in time. In situations like these, caregivers can implement a few practical strategies to help patients avoid accidents.

  • Create a hazard-free path to bathroom
    If a patient is having difficulty getting to the bathroom in time to use the toilet, help them get there by clearing an easy-to-navigate path that is free from clutter.
  • Provide suitable clothing
    Ensure clothes are easy to put on and take off. Avoid buttons and zippers, and buy pants with elastic waistbands so they can quickly pull them down in an emergency.
  • Make dietary changes
    To avoid constipation, make sure Alzheimer’s patients are eating foods rich in fiber and drinking between six and eight glasses of water a day. Also, avoid bladder irritants, such as caffeine, alcohol, and carbonated beverages.
  • Consult an occupational therapist
    Consider bringing an occupational therapist into the home. Occupational therapists can assess a patient’s current living situation, identify risk factors related to incontinence episodes, and make suggestions and alterations to help reduce accidents.
  • Install assistive devices
    A raised toilet seat and an adjustable toilet rail can help make it easier and more comfortable for patients to sit down and stand up, keeping them safe while encouraging independent toileting.
  • Use incontinence products

Keep patients comfortable and protect clothing and furniture from accidents with incontinence pads, adult briefs, and mattress protectors.

Buy incontinence products at Avondale Home Medical Equipment

At Avondale Home Medical Equipment, we understand how complicated and stressful caring for an Alzheimer’s patient can be. Having the right products and devices can help minimize the challenges of managing incontinence. We offer a wide selection of incontinence products and bathroom safety equipment to assist with toileting needs. Call us at (623) 295-2724, and one of our knowledgeable staff members will be happy to discuss your circumstances and recommend supplies that are right for you.