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Incontinence | Management Strategies

  1. If incontinence episodes often happen in the bed, it may be a good idea to find ways to protect the bed and bedding. Consider having a waterproof cover for the mattress and a protective cover for the duvets and pillows.

  2. Does the person you care for understand when they need to "go"? You may have an easier time avoiding accidents by having them go to the bathroom at established times during the day. Creating this routine helps provide consistency and may make it easier for them to remember. It may be helpful to observe and record when accidents happen. For example, if they happen every two hours, and you have the person go to the bathroom every three hours, you may need to adjust the routine.

  3. Ensure that clothing is easy to remove in order to use the washroom. Pants with elastic waistbands or Velcro may be removed more quickly than pants with zippers or buttons.
  4. Consider whether the person you care for is able get to the washroom on their own, or, can they actually ask for help to the toilet? Maybe they are too embarrassed to ask for help.

  5. Often people will limit the amount of fluid they give the person they care for in an effort to avoid accidents and control incontinence. While it is advisable to not drink anything two to three hours before bed, it is necessary to have the person you care for drink many fluids during the day to stay hydrated and avoid urinary tract infections.

  6. Many times accidents happen because the person you care for may become confused or may forget where the bathroom is. Make sure the bathroom is well marked. For example, a picture of a toilet on the door, or a label will help them find the bathroom. As well, keep nightlights and/or reflective tape in the hallways to ensure that there is a well lit path to the bathroom in the night time.

  7. If the person becomes confused and uses the bathroom in a wastebasket or plant, remember to stay calm and be patient. Becoming angry or upset will only agitate and distress the person you care for.

  8. Watch for signs that indicate that the person you care for may have to go to the bathroom. For example, fidgeting, pulling at pants, or making sounds all may show that the person needs to use the bathroom.

  9. Try to avoid drinks such as coffee, cola or tea which make the person have to go the bathroom more often.

  10. If it is not possible to manage the incontinence, it may be necessary to have the person you care for wear incontinence pads or adult disposable briefs. However, it is important never to refer to these as "diapers" in front of the person you care for. This will only decrease feelings of self esteem and self worth. Depending on the person, they may need to wear them only at night or both during the day and night.

  11. When leaving the home for outings, activities or appointments, ensure that you carry an extra incontinence pad or adult disposal brief.

  12. Incontinence in a person with Alzheimer's disease , is not necessarily due to the disease itself, but can be due to other causes. Consider reasons for change in incontinence (i.e. diet, limited mobility or physical problems, can't find the toilet, can't get on/off toilet or remove clothing, medical reasons). It is important to advise your doctor when incontinence first happens, or if it suddenly becomes worse, so that they can consider other causes.

  13. Install movement sensors that light up the bathroom when the person you care for gets up at night, if possible.

See Also:
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Disorientation to Place
Symptom Library > Thinking & Judgment > Comprehension/ Understanding
Symptom Library > Behaviour > Disorientation to Place
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Natural Progression and Staging
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Memory
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Last updated January 15, 2019
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