Incontinence is taboo.
It’s embarrassing. It seems even shameful to some folks. And yet, incontinence is very common as we age, especially in women. With just a little clear thinking, though, you or your loved one can learn to cope with incontinence and lead a normal, active, healthy life.
See your MD at the first sign of wetting.
If you suspect you may be having a problem, the sooner you see your doctor, the faster your problem will be addressed and the better you will feel. Why is it so important to get rapid medical attention? Because, sometimes, not always, urinary incontinence can be a symptom of a urinary tract infection. Some of these can be nasty illnesses that won’t go away on their own. But your doctor will know how to make you better. If your doctor says you have no underlying disease processes at work, go to the next step.
This step has two parts:
1) Use the bathroom on a set daily schedule, every 1-1/2 hours or so.
Don’t wait for the ‘signal’. Get in the restroom when your schedule says you should be there and go! Your doctor can help you establish a schedule that won’t interfere with your active life. (Most of us need to use the restroom every 2 hours or so… but going ahead of ‘schedule’ will help prevent accidents.);
2) If you do end up waiting for the ‘urge’, toilet immediately. ‘Holding on’ will only add to your discomfort, wetting and potential embarrassment. It’s not healthy, either. So, go when you first get the urge.
The smart (and cheap) way to keep yourself dryer.
Incontinence supplies, themselves, can be expensive… up to 3 times the cost of simple feminine napkins. That’s why you don’t want to rush out and stock up on adult briefs. Briefs are the last step.
The first step is to try thin sanitary napkins that line the inside of your undies.
If these seem to do the trick, you’re all set. (‘Winged’ pads work best.)
Just remember: Change your liner at the first sign of wetness!
First time out, buy two or three different brands/styles to determine which brand/style works best for you. Keep experimenting until you discover the one you like best.
If you find that the thin liners don’t offer you enough protection… or if you need additional absorbency during the night… try a thicker napkin.
You’ll know when you’ve found the right one. Again: Always change your liner at the first sign of wetness!
The last step (and the most expensive) is to buy and use adult briefs. There are lots of brands/styles to choose from. You’ll know, here as well, when you’ve chosen the right one for you. Do I have to say: Always change your liner at the first sign of wetness again!?
Keep everything clean down there.
This is pretty good advice for women of any age… but especially important if you’re coping with wetness. Urine can be very caustic if left on the skin.
Not good, so…
When you’re home: Clean yourself with soap and water after an incident and replace the liner.
When you’re not: Carry baby wipes with you and use those. Always replace the liner, as well.
If you find you need to protect yourself from wetness more aggressively, buy and use a zinc oxide-based skin cream. (Brand name creams don’t work any better… they just cost more!)