Ideas to help you with caring for a senior with bladder problems… by francy Dickinson
Dear Francy; I wanted to share my own challenges today. Ten years ago, my mother was in her late 90’s and got a UTI or Urinary Track Infection, that was so bad she was in hospital for 10 days and 20 days in a recovery center. She was too weak to go back to her own home so, she moved in with me and I began my “hands-on care giving”. The day she was to move in…I went to the big box store for bladder control products. It was a nervous day and I was stressed…when I finally found the right isle…I was shocked to see the whole isle was filled with bladder products and I did not know which one was required. My stress level was so high that I stood there crying in the bladder control isle! I want to save you from that kind of worry and stress…here are some tips you want to know when you, or one of your family members needs to use bladder support products.
TIPS TO HELP YOU WITH CARE GIVING FOR ANYONE WITH BLADDER CONTROL ISSUES:
- Bladder control products are not the same as menstruation products. You must be careful with this…using a pad for your period because you ‘leak’…can produce a nasty infection called UTI…do not do it. Go and get small bladder control pads. They are made so the urine is wicked away from your skin and you will be able to have protection wo the worry.
- You never put bladder products in the toilet. It will back up your system and cost way too much money to fix the pipes. So go and get a tall kitchen trash can with a lid that swings. Then you buy tall kitchen plastic bags and get a Lysol type of spray to use inside the trash can (I get the spray at the dollar store 😉 Take out the used bag, spray Lysol inside the can, then line the can with plastic trash bag, put on the lid and its ready for more odor free service. I clean mine twice a week and its easy to do. This is how you get rid of your used bladder products and you keep the can within reach of the toilet. It keeps the smell down and is easy to take the trash out (much like you would do with diaper waste)
I also have a can of disposable wipes to clean the surfaces of the toilet, the handles, the switches, the trash can…any place the senior is going to touch…I run over it to keep it clean. I keep this can under the sink…seniors can get confused and you do not want them to use these cleaning wipes with bleach on their own skin. This constant cleaning movement in the bathroom is how we keep infections down and out of the house…clean to the max. If the senior has an emergency and leave urine or feces on the floor …then clean the bathroom again…to make sure its really germ free…and take out the stinky garbage bag and start again clean and ready to go.
- Wiping your bottom when you have had urinary/bowel problems is important…use 1 ply toilet paper…so it does not clog the system. The senior will forget and use way too much toilet paper–this will help. Put a baby-wipe container by the toilet and if the senior has bowel problems – they can wipe up and clean up with those and put them directly into the trash can that is there for them. The baby wipes are easy to use…BUT DO NOT PUT THEM IN THE TOILET. Put them into the trash can we have already placed by the toilet.
- Depends is the type of bladder control we know well. But there are other companies that make them. Buy the ones that will fit and will not be too expensive. This monthly cost is a perfect thing to give to a sibling that always says (what can I do?) they can pay for the expense of the monthly bladder control problems…Yeah.
- Now there are different styles of the products, pull ups or closing pant like products. But what is not understood is that you also need to get the guards. The guards are the smaller pads…that go inside the Depend type underpants. That way you do not have to take off clothes to change the wet pants…you just put the guard/pad in and out and throw it away. It makes it easier to change during the day with two layers of protection!
- Medicare and insurance often support urinary support products. But to do this you need a doctor’s prescription. Keep this in mind. In that case you will set up an account with a medical vendor and they will send you the bladder control products in the mail. My Georgie has Veteran’s medical and I just call in the prescriptions number and it is delivered to my door. So easy to do and so much less money than personally purchasing it. As senior age and go through their health journey…they need more and more of these products. So plan ahead to use a medical service that delivers or mails.
- Family doctors are great…but when you have bladder issues. No matter what your age, you need to go and see a specialist called, a Urologist. They have fancy equipment that will check your bladder and they will be able to help you with medication. Many times a simple medication that helps with the ‘urge’ to go to the bathroom…makes a huge change in someone’s life. (by the way…if you do use these medications..the side effect is dry mouth…Biotene has a great line of products to spray in your mouth, use as mouthwash or chews to take the dry mouth away.
- Both men with prostate problems and many woman who have had bladder issues since they gave birth many years before…they find answers with procedures that urologist suggest. Just remember when you do a procedure…you want to ask the doctor, what their stats for the procedure is? In other words you would say to the doctor: “Out of the last 10 people who you personally have done this procedure on…how many had little to no recovery problems? If they did have problems what were they? ” Never be afraid to be informed when you, or your senior, are going to do something with the body. Maybe the procedure is too much for an elder that has other difficult problems…or maybe it’s so simple that everyone should do them to improve the quality of their life.
- Remember when you changed a baby’s diapers…do you remember you used baby powder and a rash cream? Well those are still on the shelf even today. To powder the seniors bottom to allow the ease of pulling up the Depends….or to use Desitin or other zinc products to protect delicate ‘private parts’ area skin from being burned with urine. You can buy these products at the dollar store too 🙂
- Talking about bladder and bowel issues with a senior…is hard to do. But, it’s like dealing with a child’s diaper issues…you have to deal with it and talk about it. Make your senior’s bathroom easy to use. If they are going to have these issues, they will be changing their bladder products…running in to make it to the toilet – etc. So put up handles on the wall by the toilet. Put the tall trash can close at hand. Keep a basket for the new Depends and the guards/pads close with scissors so the senior can use them with ease.
Never forget to praise the elder for using the products well…their personal issues will be easier when you let them know you appreciate their ‘trying’ to keep clean and healthy. Keep your energy calm if they are in the middle of an “accident” and after it is over and the senior is back in their chair…you clean up the bathroom and then clean up yourself. The senior should be re-assured that they did not do anything wrong…and I always give them a sweet treat and some hot tea…to keep the senior calm and let them settle down. ( Imodium…should always be giving with a heavy hit of the runs…so keep it at hand.)
Hope these tips help you in your process of care giving. I know as mother’s journey got harder I added a commode by her bed for use at night. Now, I have just done the same thing for my George. He is using it at night when he is tired, a little dizzy from his evening medications and unsteady with his Parkinson’s. I keep trying to figure out how to help him over those very personal problems…that we all have everyday. Blessings on all you do for your senior. francy
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