6 Things Never to Say to an Incontinent Person

difficult_conversations

Worried about how to talk to someone about incontinence? These potentially awkward conversations proceed best when you're casual, candid, and calm.

What doesn't work

Avoid approaches like these:

1. "I'm sick and tired of cleaning up after you, so I bought you these diapers." (You'll only make the person embarrassed and defensive.)

Better: "I notice you had another night accident. I think it's time to have the doctor check out what's going on." (Acknowledge that it's likely a medical issue.)

2. "Why can't you control yourself?" (They can't. If they could, they wouldn't be incontinent.)

Better: "I know this bothers you. But don't worry; we'll figure out what's wrong and how to work with it." (Use an empathetic approach to make yourself an advocate, not an enemy.)

3. "Are you doing this to spite me?" (No, this isn't about mean-spiritedness.)

Better: "Are you embarrassed? Don't be. I've heard there are lots of different kinds of incontinence, and it's really common." (Keep it from becoming an emotional issue.)

4. "That's it, nothing liquid for you after noon." (People need adequate hydration; rather than arbitrarily withholding liquids, work with a physician to determine the cause of the problem and the right remedy.)

Better: "Not drinking anything isn't healthy for you, so that can't be the answer; let's find out what the doctor thinks." (Be supportive instead of controlling.)

5. "I can't take you anywhere." (You can, with preparation such as incontinence products, using the toilet right before an outing, and slowing beverage intake beforehand.)

Better: "I know it's stressful when you go out and worry about accidents; that's why these briefs are such a good idea. You don't want to stop enjoying life just because of this." (Show that there are solutions.)

6. "Looks like you'll be wearing these for the rest of your life." (Many problems with incontinence are reversible, but even if not, there's no point in emphasizing the negative.)

Better: "Let's see how it goes using these for now." (Don't set up negative -- or unrealistic -- expectations.)
 


almost 2 years ago, said...

I would just like to add that for children who wet the bed, the damaging and accusatory comments 'why are you too lazy to wake up and go to the bathroom' are very emotionally damaging, possibly even more so given the vulnerability of a very young child who does not understand why this is happening to them and why an adult is so angry. Kindness is in too short supply for all ages with the problem of incontinence. Why would anyone think any person actually *wants* to wake up in their own urine for goodness sake? To have this happen and then be crucified for it by a caregiver is too much to bear.


over 3 years ago, said...

My elderly (97) yo mom is incontinent. I have caregivers come in to help me. It's unbelievable how these supposed experts talk to my mom. Everything from, "oh looks like you had an accident!" to "let's get you a diaper." Even worse, some of them insist on hoisting my mom onto the toilet, even if she says not to! Needless to say, I've had to lay down a few stipulations. If they keep referring to briefs as diapers, they are no longer employed with us. It's sad that people have such disregard for such a common problem. After all, we'll probably all be incontinent one day.


over 4 years ago, said...

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over 4 years ago, said...

Sad, that these points must be addressed. . . Some folks are so insensitive. Big sigh. . . . Thanks for mentioning it ~ may help someone out here.


almost 5 years ago, said...

Yes,Do not start a "first timer" on adult diapers or briefs and strike those words from your vocabulary. Tell them to try "Protective Underwear" which are the pull-on, underwear type incontinence products. Much easier to transition into and these products are now very, very absorbent. Secondly MAKE SURE you have the correct size - do not guess. You will hate it if you make a successful transition to an incontinence product only to hear "these things don't work." Most leaks arise from poor fit. Best of Luck. BTW Here is some info on adult diaper sizing. The Attends website has more if you still need help


over 5 years ago, said...

Just being nice and kind to your elderly parent, no matter how miserable they be, is the best way to go. Love and tolerance goes a long way and turns into acceptance for the person with incontinence, usually...


over 5 years ago, said...

Hello chrissiegree­n, Thank you very much for your question. I'm so sorry to hear about your situation, that must be very difficult to deal with. Here is an Ask & Answer page that you may find helpful: ( http://www.caring.com/questions/father-missing-toilet ). I hope that helps. Take care -- Emily | Community Manager


over 5 years ago, said...

My father's problem is during the night he will urinate anywhere. In the corner, on the carpet, in the bath, (never in the bed). During the day he can't find his way to the toilet. So signs or lights don't help. Any solutions please?


over 5 years ago, said...

Thank you for all your helpful and informative comments. This article is helpful and so are many of the comments I see here. I especially appreciated the comments gadjett made about what her mother would accept and product she found. I like the comments about calling them underwear. There are so many other helpful suggestions! Thank you all so much!


over 5 years ago, said...

This is the most difficult to deal with thing I have had to handle. I certainly can identify with the person who tends to get mad and say the wrong thing and I must admit that I have had to face this head on. We can so easily damage the emotions of the person we love. It takes a lot of compassion and understanding to do the right thing with incontinence. If need be I think we should seek counseling to make sure we don't do the wrong thing here. I know I can go back afterward and apologise for saying the wrong thing, but you will never know the damage you've done.


over 5 years ago, said...

It helped me with the subject I need to deal with.


over 5 years ago, said...

I didn't realize that the doctor could do something about incontinence. I don't think we are completely at the point of incontinence, as my wife will go into the bathroom......not knowing what to do when she gets there. I try always to go with her as she does not wipe and that's our main problem. She has been wearing Depends for almost a year and that seems to really help the problem. I can't imagine anyone saying these negative things though. Not a sign of a good caregiver.


over 5 years ago, said...

Hi feel, Thanks for your question. I know one trick many people use when trying to monitor from across a home is baby monitors. Another trick is placing bells on the bathroom and his bedroom door so you know when he's out of bed and in the bathroom. For more suggestions you can visit our wonderful community section where you can get advice and support from others in similar caregiving situations. You can find it here: (http://www.caring.com/community). I hope that helps -- Emily


over 5 years ago, said...

my 91 year old father sleeps in his own bed and bath room although ti is hard for me at the other end of the house to check on him or hear him can you help?


over 5 years ago, said...

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over 5 years ago, said...

It's easy to get frustrated with this type of situation which happens a lot. Those suggestions will help keep me kind and graceful in dealing with my mum's problems.


almost 6 years ago, said...

Hi JudyT, That does sound like a difficult problem. You can submit your question our experts and the community by visiting our "Ask and Answer" section, located here : (http://www.caring.com/ask) We also have a wonderful community section where you can get advice and support from others in similar caregiving situations. You can find it here: (http://www.caring.com/community). I hope that helps -- Emily