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Understanding Alzheimer's and Incontinence

Judie Rappaport
March 28, 2014

"When the woman next to me said, 'Oh Heavens!' and I heard the commotion behind me, I had a very bad feeling. I turned and saw the front of Dad's pants soaked with urine. My eyes followed the stain downward: urine was flowing out from his pants leg onto the floor. I yelled, 'Dad, No!' and grabbed his arm so I could take him to the bathroom. He looked at me like I had two heads and said, 'Wait, Sal. I haven't finished.' His Alzheimer's made his blissfully unaware that peeing on the department store's floor was inappropriate. I, on the other hand, had some serious 'splainin to do,"

 

From where I sit, splainin' is the easy part: turn to anyone involved and calmly say, "Dad has Alzheimer's." That should disburse the crowd and assure forgiveness. (Remember: People who don't forgive Alzheimer's behavior aren't worth one second of your time or thoughts) 

 

Now comes the harder part: Help prevent as many future accidents as possible by understanding why dad had this accident. 

 

  1. Alzheimer’s destroys the brain. The brain governs every thought, function, capability, memory, and coping skill Dad has. Example: remembering where, how, and why he should go to the bathroom.
  2. Identify the cause of the accident: it’s a key component of helping prevent others. Start with these 5 prevalent reasons/prevention strategies for accidents in or outside the home:
    • Untreated medical problem: Bladder infection, constipation, decreased bladder capacity, prostate problem, urinary tract infection, medication causing excess urinating or upset stomachs.
    • Can't find the toilet: at home, clearly label bathroom doors with words or pictures; for perceptual or visual losses, color the water in the toilet, use contrasting color for toilet seat. In public places, stay alert for discomfort signs and accompany dad to the restroom.
    • Give “toilet reminders” every two hours, right before going to bed or going out, and immediately upon rising in the morning.
    • Use easy to remove clothing with Velcro closings and elastic waists for last minute toilet needs.
    • Accept and Admit Dad has Alzheimer’s and may no longer remember how to self-toilet or what the sensation of having to “go” means.

 

Be kind to Dad and to yourself: Alzheimer’s is progressive. There are no foolproof methods for preventing accidents.

 

Trust Yourself. You Have the Knowledge, Insight, & Power to make the right decisions for you and your parent. ©