Hello, my name is Gregory. When I was a young lad, I had to enter the health care world in an unexpected way. I developed a serious disease out of the blue that took doctors by surprise. I went through so many different testing procedures before my doctors could diagnose the rare disease. Everyone around me reeled as they tried to understand the purpose and process of the diagnostic tests. I hope to help others understand these important tests better through this website. Please come by often to learn all you need to know about medical diagnostics and working closely with health care professionals.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, and experts estimate that around 5 million people in the United States suffer with the condition. There's no cure for Alzheimer's disease, and although drugs can help manage patient symptoms, many people with the condition ultimately end up unable to live independently. Find out why incontinence is a common symptom of Alzheimer's disease, and find out how carers can help loved ones with the disease cope with this problem at home.
Alzheimer's and the risk of incontinence
Scientists are not yet sure what causes Alzheimer's disease, but, like other forms of dementia, the disease has a profound and debilitating effect on the patient's life. Once healthy neurons in the patient's brain stop working, the dementia sufferer's cognitive functioning starts to deteriorate, and he or she finds it increasingly difficult to complete the tasks that most people take for granted.
Older people are at higher risk of urinary and fecal incontinence, even if they don't have dementia. Urinary tract infections, prostate gland problems and conditions like irritable bowel syndrome all increase the risk of incontinence, and older people are more likely to suffer with these and other medical conditions.
The risk of incontinence increases further with Alzheimer's sufferers because the patient is no longer able to control these functions. What starts off as the occasional accident may eventually become a serious issue, and if a patient can no longer live independently, he or she will need constant support and supervision to use the toilet.
Why Alzheimer's can increase the risk of toilet accidents
Alzheimer's patients aren't always incontinent just because they cannot control their bowel or bladder. The changes in an affected person's cognitive function may lead to other issues that can cause incontinence. Causes of incontinence accidents can include:
It's important that home carers identify and understand these (and other) risk factors. This information can equip you to understand when somebody needs support and allow you to take steps to help a loved one before it is too late.
Products and equipment that can help patients
It's often difficult to prevent incontinence accidents, which can lead to mess and embarrassment for your loved one. As such, there are various types of products and equipment you can buy (or hire) to help manage incontinence.
Bathrooms in care facilities normally feature grab rails and seat raisers to help people use the toilet safely. You can also arrange for a supplier to install these in your loved one's home.
The choice of product or equipment will depend on many factors, including the patient's physical mobility and the severity of the problem. You may need to use more than one product, and you may also need to change the solution over time. It's important to consider your loved one's preference, too. For example, some people with dementia simply don't like using pads or incontinence pants.
Other ways to help dementia patients
There are lots of way you can help a loved one with dementia avoid toilet accidents. By helping them find, recognize and use the toilet more easily, you can avoid embarrassment and improve your loved one's quality of life.
Helping people with dementia find the toilet is a simple, vital step. You can install door signs that use words and pictures, but you should make sure the sign is in your loved one's line of sight. Habits like leaving the toilet door open when the room is unoccupied can also help. People with dementia may become confused if a door is closed, and they may mistakenly believe the room is occupied.
Make sure there is always a clear route from your loved one's bed to the bathroom, too, by removing furniture and propping open any doors. Motion sensor lights between the bedroom and bathroom can help. Other small changes can make life easier, too. For example, a black toilet seat makes it easier for somebody with dementia to find the toilet, compared to a plain white version.
Incontinence is a common, distressing problem for people with dementia, and home carers have an important role to play in helping loved ones cope with everyday life. Talk to your loved one's doctor about the best way to help him or her cope with incontinence. It may even be necessary for you to hire in home care through a company like Corner Home Medical to help you handle the care of your loved one at home.