Tips & Advice if Your Loved One is Physically Disabled

The person I care for is mentally alert but physically unable to wash, dress or manage the toilet for themselves.

Work it out together

If your loved one has recently become fully or partially physically disabled, they (and you) will be having to get used to help with all sorts of basic tasks such as feeding, bathing and going to the bathroom. And it's the intimacy of the 'bathroom bit' that you and your loved one might find most awkward at first, particularly if you are both just learning the ropes of what makes a comfortable 'bathroom' experience. So, work together on a plan, listen to each other's suggestions and worries, and you'll soon work out a routine that suits you both, and any embarrassment will quickly disappear.

Provide good incontinence protection.

The right incontinence products will help ensure leaks are absorbed and feces and odour are contained, helping to protect your loved one's clothes, their living environment and their dignity. Incontinence protection products come in a range of sizes and absorbencies for men and women. Many people find that incontinence underwear products that pull up like ordinary underwear is more acceptable to people with a degree of mental confusion, as it helps them feel more 'normal.' View our line of TENA® incontinence underwear for Men and for Women or go to the Products section to see the full range of TENA® incontinence products. Visit The TENA Advantage to find out more about how TENA® can help provide good incontinence protection.

Work together to create the right environment.

This will vary according to physical need. If your loved one can access the bathroom with a wheelchair or walker, ensure the route to the bathroom is unobstructed. They may also prefer clothing that is easy for you or them to remove, such as wide skirts and drawstring trousers. Keep a lidded trash can in the bathroom or bedroom to dispose of used products.

Changing and hygiene

Your loved one may be alert to accidents once they have happened and be able to change themselves, or you may need to offer a helping hand. Either way, ensure fresh protective incontinence products are within easy reach in the bathroom, and that you have a lidded trash can for used products. Incontinence underwear products that tear at the sides help make changing quick and clean, and wet wipes can prove easier and gentler on the skin than standard toilet paper.

Skin care

Urine can irritate the skin, which in the case of the elderly, can be particularly sensitive. Protective incontinence products with high absorbency and that quickly draw urine away from the skin, even when the person is seated for long periods, will help reduce the risk of skin irritation. If you are worried about your loved one's skin sensitivity, visit the Products section for the range of TENA® incontinence products designed to reduce the risk of skin irritation, including TENA® skin-caring creams and wipes to help promote healthy skin.

Fluid intake

Your loved one may be tempted to drink less, but this can make the urine more concentrated, aggravating the bladder and making it more active. Encourage them to drink as normal, responding to their natural thirst. This should be enough to keep the urine a healthy, pale straw color. As you might expect, drinking too much will just increase the urge to 'go', so just try and keep a healthy balance.

Be aware that some drinks have a diuretic effect.

Of course you don't want to curb life's little pleasures, but be aware that caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks are diuretics that will make them need to urinate more.

Discuss getting a helping hand from a local organization or charity. There may already be adult daycare centers or healthcare organizations in your area. If so, they could give you the chance to leave your loved one in caring hands so you can both take a break for a few hours. They may even be able to provide activities and interests that aren't possible at home. Many of these organizations offer transportation, run regular group activities such as day trips, and prepare snacks. They may even provide a 'meals on wheels' service.

If you have a specific question relating to incontinence care, you can ask one of our Specialist Nurses.

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