It can be extremely embarrassing, but it might be a conversation that you and your senior need to have. Or they may feel more comfortable talking to a homecare provider.
If you help your senior with some of her household tasks, like laundry, you might notice that there seems to be more laundry than usual. Or perhaps you notice that she’s doing more laundry when you’re not around. This can be a sign that there have been accidents that have resulted in more changes of clothes or bedding. Part of managing incontinence may well mean doing a lot more laundry, and having home care providers around might help with that.
Also, your elderly family member might have adapted some of her wardrobe to account for accidents or incontinence products that aren’t really working well for her. She might be suddenly wearing bulkier clothing or clothing that’s dark in color when she used to wear lighter shades. These changes may or may not mean anything, but they’re worth investigating a bit.
Often when someone is battling incontinence, there’s an unfortunate odor that can accompany her. You might also notice an odor of urine in the room, especially around your senior’s favorite seat, for instance. Your elderly family member may not notice the smell, especially if she’s been dealing with this issue for a while without telling you. Elder care providers can help with personal care tasks, especially related to incontinence.
Another difference that you might notice is that your elderly family member is a little more withdrawn than she usually is. Perhaps she’s stopped going places as often or she’s turning down invitations from people she cares about. That can happen because of embarrassment. When your senior has the help and support of home care providers, she may feel more confident being social again.
It’s a common misconception that people with incontinence are just waiting to go to the bathroom or they’re not making it to the bathroom when their bladder is full. Your senior could have just gone and yet still experience an episode of incontinence. If she’s trying to head off accidents, though, she could be spending a lot of time in the bathroom trying to keep her bladder as empty as possible.
It’s important to talk with your senior gently about what she’s experiencing so that you and she can bring her doctor up to speed, too. There may be more that her doctor can recommend such as homecare services.