The person I care for is mentally alert but physically unable to wash, dress or manage the toilet for themselves

Work it out together

If your loved one has recently become fully or partially physically disabled, they (and you), will be having to get used to help with all sorts of basic tasks such as feeding, bathing and going to the toilet. And it’s the intimacy of the ‘toilet bit’ that you and your loved one might find most awkward at first, particularly if you are both just learning the ropes of what makes a comfortable ‘toilet’ experience. So, work together on a plan, listen to each other’s suggestions and worries and you’ll soon work out a routine that suits you both and any embarrassment will quickly disappear.

Provide good incontinence protection

The right incontinence protection will help ensure leaks are absorbed and faeces and odour are contained helping to protect your loved one’s clothes, their living environment and their dignity. Incontinence protection comes in range of sizes and absorbencies for men and women. Many people find that protection that pulls up like ordinary underwear is more acceptable to people who are able to stand up whilst being changed, but if your loved one needs to be changed lying down, there are products which help make the changing process easier for both of you. TENA Flex has been specifically designed to make changing people confined to their beds quicker and less strenuous on the back of the carer. Visit the Product Pavilion for more information on this and other incontinence products.

Work together to create the right environment

This will vary according to physical need. If your loved one can access the bathroom perhaps with a wheel chair or walking frame, ensure the route to the bathroom is unobstructed. They may also prefer clothing that is easy for you or them to remove, such as wide skirts and drawstring trousers. Keep a lidded bin in the bathroom or bedroom to dispose of used products. 

Changing and hygiene

Ensure fresh protective products are within easy reach. If your loved one experiences faecal incontinence, pant products that tear at the sides work well for someone that can manage assisted standing, and all-in-one products make changing cleaner and quicker for lying down changes. Wet wipes can prove easier and gentler on the skin than standard toilet paper particularly when removing faeces.

Skin care

Urine can irritate the skin, which in the case of the elderly, can be particularly sensitive. Protective products with high absorbency and that quickly draw urine away from the skin even when the person is seated or lying down for long periods, will help reduce the risk of skin irritation. If you are worried about your loved one’s skin sensitivity look in the Product Pavilion for protection designed to reduce the risk of skin irritations.

Fluid intake

Your loved one may be tempted to drink less, but this can make the urine more concentrated, aggravating the bladder and making it more active. Encourage them to drink as normal responding to their natural thirst. This should be enough to keep the urine a healthy, pale straw colour. As you might expect, drinking too much will just increase the urge to ’go’ so just try and keep a healthy balance.

Be aware that some drinks have a diuretic effect

Of course you don’t want to curb life’s little pleasures but be aware that caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks are diuretics which will make them need to urinate more.

Discuss getting a helping hand from a local organisation or charity

There may already be adult day care centres or healthcare organisations in your area. If so, they could give you the chance to leave your loved one in caring hands so you can both take a break for a few hours. They may even be able to provide activities and interests that aren’t possible at home. Many of these organisations offer transportation, run regular group activities such as day trips, and prepare snacks. They may even provide a ‘meals on wheels’ service. Visit the café for further ideas and advice from other carers.

If you have a specific question relating to incontinence care, you can ask one of our specialist nurses.