Incontinence is sadly all too common in people who have dementia; it is thought that around 60 to 70% of people with Alzheimer’s will develop incontinence, usually in the later stages of dementia.

If you live with someone who has this condition, it can be useful to know why incontinence happens and also what you can do to help.

Why do people with dementia often develop incontinence?

There are several reasons for this, and it can be one (or a combination) of the following:

– Getting lost/wandering
People with dementia can get lost very easily, both in and outside the home. This is because their spatial awareness becomes confused – so finding the bathroom is not as straightforward as it once was.

– Not recognising the bathroom
Even if they can locate the bathroom, a problem for someone with dementia is that it’s not easy to recognise everyday household objects. So they might know they are looking for the toilet, but they cannot identify it, or recognise what it is used for.

– Mobility loss
All too frequently dementia is accompanied by reduced mobility, so this means it much more difficult, and/or it can take much longer, to get to the bathroom, which can result in accidents.

– Communication issues
Particularly with advanced dementia, communication becomes more difficult, and a person’s ability to react and remember things is greatly reduced. This means a person with dementia might not be able to communicate that they need to use the toilet.

elderly couple sitting together

Tips for caregivers:

There is some excellent support you can access from health professionals – starting with your GP, but you might also see your community nurse, occupational therapist or physiotherapist for support, depending on the type of incontinence. The NHS also has specialist continence advisers, and while their availability varies across the UK, they exist to create bespoke continence care plans  and provide follow up plans and next steps.

You should also consider seeking advice from professional organisations  and charities. We strongly recommend contact with Bladder & Bowel UK, which provides a national service to improve life for all people with bladder or bowel problems by offering information, advice and practical solutions for problems you might be experiencing.

The Alzheimer’s Society also has some highly practical advice on a whole range of related topics – from maintaining a healthy bladder and bowels, to reducing and dealing with accidents. They also have some very thoughtful advice on how to communicate better with a person who has dementia – do have a read.

Identifying the right continence aids is where specialist suppliers like ourselves  come in – we are experts is ensuring that you find the right products for comfort and care, which will also protect clothing, furniture and bedding. These can include any of the following:.

Incontinence pull-up pants They are easy to fit and remove and are soft, comfortable and breathable, just like normal underwear.  The range of absorbencies allows all levels of urinary incontinence to be managed. A more absorbent pull-up may be useful at night.

Incontinence pads Our shaped pads ensure absorption is rapid and the risk of leakage is further reduced by barriers that extend to the edge of the pad. An adhesive strip provides a snug fit. We recommend these are used with stretch briefs to give added confidence because they hold the pad in place, making it more effective.

Incontinence bed and seat protection  Our range of washable and disposable products provides extra security and confidence. These include bed pads, mattress covers, chair pads, duvet and pillow covers and even waterproof duvets, pillows and mattresses.

If you would prefer some tailored advice on finding the right product for you or the person you are caring for, that’s exactly what we are here for. Don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0800 389 3597 or drop us a line – we’d love to hear from you.