10+ Best Incontinence Products for Dementia Patients

incontinence products for dementia patients

There are numerous products designed to help manage incontinence in dementia patients, and each has dozens of variations.

Different combinations of products may be right for different individuals, and a person’s needs may evolve over time.

Incontinence Products for Dementia

Don’t call them diapers

Many people refer to incontinent products for dementia as “diapers,” but the term has a strong connotation with infants.

It is generally considered to be disrespectful, infantilizing and tactless.

It should not typically be used when referring to adult absorbent undergarments (unless the person themselves prefers that term).

Words like “pads” or “briefs” would be an appropriate way to refer to these products.

Products designed to be worn inside, or instead, of underpants

Incontinence Products for Dementia Patients

  • Pantiliners – a very thin pad that adheres to underpants for small leaks
  • Disposable pads – adhere to underpants, but are thicker and more absorbent than pantiliners
  • Pull up briefs / disposable underpants
  • Washable pads, liners or absorbent underpants
  • Reusable vinyl waterproof underpants covers
  • Wraparound tab briefs – similar to a traditional “diaper” design
  • Extended wear – Products designed for extended use keep urine away from the skin
  • Brief liners – designed specifically for use in a brief to boost absorbance or easily remove if damp
  • Insert – for use with special underpants designed with a pocket to hold a disposable or washable pad insert
  • Condom catheter or body-worn urinal – Designed to fit over a penis and collect urine in a bag

Products to protect furniture from wetness

  • Waterproof bed sheets
  • Washable bed pads
  • Disposable bed pads
  • Waterproof mattress pads

Other supportive equipment

  • Raised toilet seat with handles – this can make it easier to get on or off the toilet
  • Portable bedside commode
  • Urinal

When the Person with Dementia won’t Keep a Brief On

when the person with dementia won't keep a brief on
If someone with dementia keeps removing their brief, pay attention for clues to determine a likely reason.

Is the problem specific to briefs or are they pulling at other clothing too? Does it happen mainly at night or after bathing? Understanding the reason behind it is essential for finding a solution.

Common reasons for removing clothing or briefs can include:

  • Feeling too warm
  • Ill-fitting brief or pants
  • Wet, damp or soiled brief

Is the person new to wearing briefs (or wearing a new type or brand)?

Briefs can be bulky or uncomfortable, especially when they feel unfamiliar.

Start with the smallest, thinnest or most comfortable product that will meet their needs. This might mean changing them more frequently.

is the person with dementia new to wearing briefs

Be sure to minimize incontinence with a toileting plan.

Try a different style

It is worth experimenting with various brands and styles to find something more comfortable or successful.

Look for patterns

1. Do they remove the brief mainly at night? Try going without the brief if possible, using several bed pads for absorbance instead. It may help to tuck an additional bed pad up between the person’s legs.

2. Does it happen mainly when the brief is damp? It may help to use a brief liner, or alternate style of brief that pulls wetness away from the skin. Allow skin to dry fully after a shower or wash-up to ensure there is no lingering feeling of dampness.

3. Are they removing the brief when they need the restroom? It may be a non-verbal sign that the person needs to use the restroom.

4. Do they seem to have bored or restless hands? Giving them something interesting for their hands, such as super soft fuzzy gloves, or a dementia fidget lap blanket with lots of interesting textures and items for their hands to explore.

Is this a sudden change?

A sudden change probably indicates a problem other than the brief itself.

Look for signs that the person might be uncomfortable, especially in the abdomen or perineal area.

Possible conditions that could cause discomfort include:

Special clothing for special situations

Although there are specialty clothing designed to prevent people from removing their own clothing – such as a jumpsuit with a zipper in the back – there are ethical concerns about restricting normal access to one’s body. They can cause distress in some cases.

In many places, these types of clothing are considered restraints.

What if the Person with Dementia won’t Change their Brief when Needed?

what if the person with dementia won't change their brief when needed
There are many potential complications of wearing a soiled brief too long. It greatly increases one’s risk of urinary tract infections, rashes, skin breakdown, and pressure sores.

Unfortunately, it’s an all-too-frequent problem in dementia care.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of unique reasons – and as many potential solutions. A few examples include:

Set them up for independence

Keep pads and supplies easily within sight and reach from the toilet.

Catch them when they’re in the restroom

Getting them onto the toilet in the first place is often the biggest challenge. Once they’re there, it can be much easier to access the brief to change it.

Avoid “taking” anything without giving something in return

Hand them a clean pad to hold while you swap out the soiled one for another.

Spare their pride

Present non-rinse soap, wetness barrier cream, or other appropriate skincare products as a medical treatment, for example, to “prevent infection” or to “protect your skin.”

Not only are these statements true, they also take the focus off of their incontinence, which can spare their pride – and their need to fight for it.

Incontinence can be Embarrassing, Inconvenient and Challenging

Successfully managing it can make a big difference in terms of quality of life, physical health and mental well-being.

At What Stage of Dementia Does Incontinence Occur?

at what stage of dementia does incontinence occur

It is essential to understand at what stage of dementia does incontinence occur to prepare accordingly (in advance).

Up to 70% of people with dementia develop incontinence (urinating or defecating involuntarily).

What Stage of Dementia is Incontinence?

It’s especially common in later stages of dementia due to an assortment of reasons.

Some are directly related to dementia, while others aren’t. Physical changes that occur with other conditions or with the aging process also can contribute.

Why do People with Dementia Become Incontinent?

why-do-people with dementia become incontinent
People with dementia may become incontinent for a variety of reasons – and often, for several at once.

Stress Incontinence

Many older women experience “stress incontinence.”

When the weakened bladder muscles are “stressed” by a sneeze or a laugh, they may leak small amounts of urine.

Urge Incontinence

Urge incontinence is a common condition among elders, characterized by a sudden and intense need to urinate, followed by the loss of a large amount of urine.

Functional Incontinence

Mobility challenges can make it hard to get to the toilet on time.

Difficulty Managing Clothing

Unzipping or unbuttoning pants can become a challenge due to various reasons, including arthritis or cognitive changes.

Communication Deficits

People with dementia may be unable to communicate the need to use the restroom.

Cognitive Changes

A person may forget how to complete the sequence of events needed to successfully remove clothing and use the toilet.

The brain may become less able to recognize the signal from the body that it needs the bathroom.

Difficulty finding the bathroom, recognizing the toilet, or comprehending how to use it can present a major barrier.

How to Minimize Urinary Incontinence

At What Stage of Dementia Does Incontinence Occur?
There are many ways to minimize urinary incontinence. The solution for each individual will depend on the cause, or causes, in their unique case.

A multi-pronged approach, tailor-fit to their situation, will likely be most effective.

Locate the Toilet

Placing signs, or a trail of masking tape on the floor, to help the person find the toilet may help.

Sometimes pictures are easier for the person to understand than written words.

Keep the light on in the bathroom, or place a portable commode, or urinal, at the bedside to help someone who has trouble finding the bathroom during the night.

Replace Troublesome Clothing

Elastic waistbands can make toileting easier for those who have difficulty managing buttons or zippers.

Watch for Non-Verbal Clues

Pay attention to the person’s non-verbal communication. Even if they can’t always articulate that they need the bathroom, people often show outward behavioral signs.

Common signs of needing the restroom include:

  • Fidgeting with or removing clothing
  • Pacing, wandering or going in and out of different rooms
  • Peering around frantically

Toileting Plan

toileting plan for dementia
One of the best ways to minimize incontinence is to develop a personalized toileting plan based on the person’s needs.

Initially, the “plan” may be as simple and informal as reminding the person to use the bathroom before leaving the house.

Over time, the frequency and amount of oversight or assistance may increase.

Pay attention to when the person usually needs the restroom and try to anticipate it.

Remind or assist them regularly just before they are likely to need it.

Example:

Larry is a senior with middle-stage Alzheimer’s Disease. He has difficulty recognizing when he needs to urinate, and usually doesn’t get to the toilet on time. He wears incontinent briefs, which used to be wet almost every time he went to the bathroom.

His wife, Roberta, used to ask him if he needed the bathroom, but he would always tell her “no”. Now, however, she doesn’t ask him. Instead, she walks with him to the restroom regularly – when he wakes up, before each meal, after dinner and before bed.

She also wakes him up around midnight and again around 5:00 a.m. If she doesn’t wake him up he will usually wake up on his own around 1:00 and 6:00 in a rush to find the bathroom. Not only is this upsetting to him, it is unsafe because he won’t slow down enough to use his walker.

With this plan, Larry’s brief has rarely been wet at all over the past several months. However, last week he started taking a new diuretic medication to reduce the swelling in his legs, and he immediately started to have accidents again. When Larry went to the toilet before lunch his incontinent brief was soaked.

After a few days, Roberta was able to adjust the plan to the new needs. She started walking Larry to use the toilet after breakfast, and again around 10:30. Larry is back to enjoying accident-free days at this time.

The Importance of Sleep

It’s worth thinking twice about waking up someone with dementia to prevent overnight incontinence. Sleep deprivation can seriously impact both physical and mental health.

It can also worsen the symptoms of dementia.

Depending on the situation, it may be worth considering a quality night brief instead.

These special briefs are designed for extended wear and can absorb large amounts of urine, keeping it away from the person’s skin.

Regular briefs should not be worn if they are wet. Extremely damaging to skin, it also increases the risk of urinary tract infections and pressure ulcers.

Keep Drinking

Some elders avoid drinking fluids because they are afraid of having to urinate more or having an accident.

However, dehydration is a serious concern for elders. It can worsen confusion, contribute to falls, or lead to a medical emergency.

Elders with dementia tend to be at especially high risk for dehydration.

Caffeine and certain medications can cause an increase in urination, which can contribute to both incontinence and dehydration. In general, it’s a good idea to avoid caffeine and to take the diuretic medication in the early waking hours.

Always discuss medications, including what time they are taken, with the person’s doctor.

Talk to the Doctor

There are medications for “overactive bladder”, but beware: this is not the cause of most incontinence in dementia.

Furthermore, some of these medications can worsen dementia symptoms significantly.

There are also other potential treatments for incontinence depending on its cause. Discuss all medications and any concerns about incontinence with the person’s doctor.

Watch for Urinary Tract Infections

Sudden onset or increase in incontinence can be a sign of a medical condition, such as a urinary tract infection.

UTI’s can greatly impact the health and behavior of a person with dementia. Other signs that may indicate an infection could include:

  • Fever
  • Increased confusion
  • Changes in behavior
  • Dark or odorous urine
  • Discomfort with urination
  • Low back pain

If incontinence is new or sudden, talk with the person’s doctor.

Dementia And Incontinence [Causes & Treatment]

dementia and incontinence

How closely related are dementia and incontinence? Are people with dementia at a higher risk of experiencing toilet problems?

You will learn it all through this extensive article that covers causes, treatment and provides tips.

What is Dementia? A Quick Overview

Dementia is a common affliction characterized by a group of conditions related to brain impairment.

A person experiencing dementia experiences a host of conditions that coincide directly to the loss of memory and cognitive judgment.

A statistic from the CDC indicates the condition of dementia affects as much as 5.8 million Americans.

Dementia is caused by the degeneration of the cerebral cortex region of the brain. This occurs by head injury, stroke, brain tumors, and other factors not yet fully understood.

Of note: Alzheimer’s Disease is noted to be responsible for 60-70% of dementia in adults.

Common traits and symptoms for adults diagnosed with dementia include:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Limited desire or ability to socialize with others
  • Trouble speaking
  • Difficulty performing daily tasks and responsibilities
  • Compromised muscular function
  • Depression
  • Mood Swings and/or Anger
  • Disorientation or Confusion

Is it Common for Patients to Experience Incontinence?

is it common for patients to experience incontinence
Yes. Patients with dementia will typically have more issues with incontinence compared with someone of the same age.

The main reason is that they tend to have trouble connecting with the impulses to go to the bathroom.

There are many unknowns about the exact scientific relationship between dementia and incontinence.

Is There a Cure for Dementia?

Researchers are searching for answers for cures, new treatment options, and more advanced knowledge of these conditions and more.

To date, there are many clinical trials underway and progress is being made. We have seen many advancements in the way of diagnostic and imaging technology in addition to identifying important biomarkers.

Why Are Dementia and Incontinence Related?

why are dementia and incontinence related
As a standalone issue, incontinence is a difficult condition. Incontinence is classically defined as the inability to control one’s urination or bowel movements.

The severity of causes of incontinence vary from person to person and there could be more than one contributing factor or causes.

Some of the more common reasons for incontinence stem directly from one or more medical conditions such as age-related stress incontinence paired with limited mobility.

Dementia tends to complicate incontinence factors in a myriad of ways:

  • It becomes difficult to identify the urges to go to the bathroom.
  • Sometimes there may be issues remembering the location of a bathroom.
  • They may be physically unable to reach the restroom in time.
  • There may be the inability to control the muscular control needed for voluntary bowel movements and urination.

Are There Any Treatment Options for Dementia Patients Suffering from Incontinence?

are there any treatment options for dementia patients suffering from incontinence
The first thing to do would be to determine as best you can the type of incontinence that is being experienced.

Your doctor should be able to help assist with any underlying medical issues that might be a factor.

This could translate to a change in medications or even addressing a possible urinary tract infection.

An example of possible medical interventions could be as simple as recommending pelvic floor exercises to undergo corrective surgery.

You may also find that you or your loved one qualifies for use of a medical device or procedure designed to strengthen pelvic floor muscles and to retrain the bladder.

These represent some of the more modern methods of managing bladder control. These and other treatment options are best explored with the help of your personal physician.

How Do You Manage Incontinence in Dementia Patients?

how do you manage incontinence in dementia patients
Managing incontinence is best achieved with a plan and a simple level of preparedness.

Making sure the caregiver is paired with adequate resources, preferences, and supplies can help shape the experience in a new light.

The key to effectively managing incontinence lies in maintaining one’s dignity and health intact in every possible way.

Daily Care

daily care for incontinence
There are many things you can do to help offset the helplessness that accompanies incontinence.

  • Keep a clear course or route to the bathroom. Make it as easy as possible.
  • Eliminate bladder aggravating foods and drinks such as coffee, alcohol, soda, or teas.
  • Choose clothing that makes getting the bathroom easier and is easily removed or changed.
  • Create a routine for taking medications and eating to help facilitate predictable bowel patterns.
  • Create a plan for keeping clean. Think out of the box and consider the installation of shower tools, benches, or other modifications if you are in a caregiver role.
  • Get creative. An example might be to set timers to help remind patients to use the bathroom.
  • Don’t’ forget about privacy – Help your loved one keep his or her dignity.

Planning for Trips

dementia incontinence planning for trips
Plan accordingly for trips away from the comfort of one’s home.

Consider having a to-go bag complete and ready with a change of clothing, undergarments, and care products and keeping it in the car always.

Good practices might be assessing the need for extra stops along the way, or simply knowing the layout of a place ahead of time for an easy bathroom location.

These simple ideas may prevent an accident and help simplify visits to the doctor or even marketplaces.

Tip: Understand ahead of time what restroom facilities are available to you – especially in the cases of staying in a hotel or event location.

Don’t be afraid to call ahead and ask for any modifications that may make your stay easier.

Services and Resources

dementia incontinence services and resources
Finding support for yourself if you are a caregiver and your loved one should be a priority.

Many aren’t designed to navigate these waters alone. The CDC estimates that there are 25% of adults in the U.S. that are providing care to a loved one.

There are specialty organizations and hospital affiliates designed to assist with affordable incontinence supplies, counseling, and in some cases in-home care visits.

To learn more about the resources available to you, contact your care provider or visit informative websites like this one.

How Do You Overcome the Emotional Obstacles Associated with Incontinence and Dementia?

how do you overcome the emotional obstacles associated with incontinence and dementia
It goes without saying, the level of embarrassment felt by someone with incontinence is debilitating. Left unchecked, these emotions can quickly escalate to severe depression.

Encourage dialogue and healthy emotional outlets – a little compassion can go a long way.

Consider finding avenues to maintain discreet cleaning, and personalizing care options.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with the fit of personal care products.

Do your best to honor personal preferences regarding incontinent product choices.

dementia incontinence factors

Never underestimate the humanity and value of being comfortable and feeling your best in the face of unpleasant circumstances.

It could be the one thing that makes the experience of embarrassing incontinent situations bearable.

Conclusion

Living with incontinent associated dementia isn’t easy.

However, it can be managed effectively with knowledge and a little understanding.

Make your physician your partner in creating a personalized healthcare strategy. It might be one of the best things you can do aside from staying positive.

Most importantly, stay connected with what is trending for available treatment options.

Remember communication, patience, and quality care are the hallmark vehicles to effectively managing complications of incontinence due to dementia.

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