Incontinence is not just a problem for older people or people with disability. Despite this, people from these two groups are at greater risk of developing bladder or bowel control problems. This is because of poor mobility (ability to get around), memory problems and chronic health problems such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, dementia and multiple sclerosis.
The most important thing to remember when caring for someone with incontinence is that it is not ‘normal’ or ‘inevitable’. Options for preventing, treating, managing and curing incontinence are available, so it is very important to seek professional help sooner rather than later.
Where to seek help
If the person you are caring for is incontinent, the most important step for you to take is to seek professional help. The National Continence Helpline 1800 33 00 66 is a free and confidential service available to anyone living in Australia. The Helpline is staffed by continence nurse advisors, who can provide you with practical information and advice including access to a wide range of information resources or details of a continence clinic located close to the person you are caring for.
The first step required to effectively manage a person’s incontinence is a professional continence assessment. A continence assessment helps identify the type and causes of the problems being experienced by the person and assists the continence advisor to tailor an individual management strategy. There are a number of different types of incontinence. Management of each of these will differ and also take into account the living environment and lifestyle of both caregiver and cared-for person.