Practical tips for managing incontinence
Caring for a relative, partner, adult child or friend can be immensely rewarding, but also stressful, particularly if you’re also managing incontinence. Of course, everyone’s situation is different, but we hope you’ll find something useful in this collection of tips.
If the person you’re caring for has only recently been experiencing accidents, check that physical access is optimal.
- Is the pathway to the toilet is clear and accessible?
- Chose clothes that are easy to remove, such as elasticised waists and avoid buttons, tights, belts and other items that slow the process down
- If the person is having difficulty getting onto the toilet, install grab rails
- Consider a commode. There are many types, including ones that wheel over the toilet, with armrests to hang on and to avoid falls, and a higher seat that can make sitting and standing much easier. Some also have a removable toilet pan, so can be used in other rooms. (As an aside, they’re also handy for showering.)
- Establish a routine, which is especially practical for people with Alzheimer’s and other neurologic conditions. Experiment with the interval times – usually between 45 minutes and two hours – until you find what works best
Ensuring the person you care for gets a good night’s sleep, protecting the mattress and minimising laundry are the priorities
- Washable bed protectors, called Kylies, can be placed directly underneath the person to absorb varying amounts of urine, keeping the sleeper and the mattress dry. (Search Kylie in Google Shopping). Alternatively, TENA Bed are disposable protective pads for seating and beds, that reduce washing, protect mattresses and furniture and improve odour control
- If you’re getting up in the night to change the bed, use a second mattress protector and sheet on top of the first. That way, after you’ve cleaned and changed sleepwear, you peel off the top sheet and protector and everyone can get straight back in bed. Not having to remake the bed in the middle of the night is quicker and less disruptive.
- If you’re caring for someone who is unable to use the toilet, the bedroom may be where you lie them down to change their incontinence product. Make sure they’re safe - check they won’t fall off the bed or hit their head on a bedside table if you’re rolling them. Have everything you need within reach. A basket or small tub with clean products, wipes, skin lotion, plastic gloves and disposal bags, keeps everything together
Equipment and financial support
- Various government schemes will fund disposable and reusable incontinence aids. Click this link for an overview of what you might be entitled to, as well as contact details where you can make enquiries
- Talk to your healthcare professional if you’re having difficulty managing. Equipment such as hi-low beds (that lower to floor level as well as raise much higher than regular beds), hoists and slip sheets (that assist in sliding people into position) are just some of the things that can make daily life more comfortable for the person you care for, and less physically demanding for you
- Large pieces of equipment can be rented. Google “disability equipment rentals’ to find out what’s available in your area
- If it makes more financial sense, you may wish to investigate purchasing some equipment. You can personally fund it or check if its eligible to be included in you NDIS Plan or Home Care Package
- You can read about New Zealand’s proposed new model to support people with a disability, including funding, here and support for older people here
- Like mattresses, chairs, couches and cushions need protection from urine. There are several brands of washable chair pads you can purchase online. Search “washable chair pads incontinence’ on Google Shopping or for a disposable option, use TENA Bed.
- Odour only develops after urine it’s exposed to air, so all TENA products are designed to absorb and lock urine away before bacteria start to multiply and cause odour (odour control article)
- Faecal matter smells, and must be change straight away. Scrape any solid matter into the toilet and flush, dispose of any pads by rolling or placing in a securely tied plastic bag and soak any soiled clothing in a nappy wash before machine washing
- Line dry clothing and bedding when practical
- Use bacteria-controlling air and furniture sprays rather than heavily perfumed air-fresheners which tend to mingle rather than address the source
- Open doors and windows as often as you comfortably can
- As mentioned under toileting, make sure clothing is easy to get on and off – avoid fastenings that require dexterity, like buttons, clips and buckles
- Try to choose items that are machine washable and tumble-dried. Although line drying and sun exposure is better for odour control, weather and time may not always permit
Find the best products for your situation.
If you’re not sure, try our Product Finder tool which steps you through a short series of questions and then recommends the products that might best suit your circumstances. You can even order free samples to try
Look after you
Many carers are so focused on the person they’re caring for they neglect their own wellbeing. It’s so important to make sure you’re also looking after you. You might find the tips in this article ‘Why it’s important to take care of you’ helpful.
There are many support networks available so don’t feel you need to go it alone.
Continence FoundationIn Australia, head to the for a list of resources, and for you, contact Carers Australia’s Supports and Services line on 1800 242 636.
- In New Zealand, call the Continence Helpline on 0800 650 659 or Carers NZ on 0800 777 797
Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.