How do we handle incontinence when we're out and about?

3 answers | Last updated: Oct 22, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father is completely incontinent but he still likes to go on little day "outings." and I was wondering, how do I go about changing him when he's wet/soiled in public?

Expert Answers

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

I like this question. Incontinence should not keep people at home in this day and age, yet fear of incontinence out of the home is an isolating factor for many.

First, make sure that your father has the appropriate incontinence product, which fits properly and will absorb what needs to be absorbed. has a web site which can give you guidance.

Also, use as much prevention as possible. Make sure he uses the bathroom before you leave. Also, plan your trip so that you will know where convenient bathrooms can be used on your outing.( Every two hours is the recommended amount of time.) For instance, if you want a soft drink, go into MacDonalds where they have handy bathrooms. Or, fill up your gas tank at a station where the facilities are easy to use. If you map out your trip you can call ahead to find out what is available.

If your father has an accident take him into the bathroom to clean him up. If you apologize, the other men in the restroom will understand, usually. A friend told me that she was afraid to go in to the men's room, but someone already in there offered to help her father.

When you go on an outing, always take a bag. (I use a cloth one from the food coop, but any kind will work.) Put in incontinence products, wipes, a wash cloth, flash light, energy or chocolate bars as well as a bottle of water. There may be many other items useful for you: maps, reading material and little sayings written on cards that say, "You can do it or What is a nice girl like me doing here?" Try to keep it light and keep your sense of humor.

I once attended an older woman who was lunching out with friends. She suddenly got up and hobbled to the rest room. But she didn't quite make it to the toilet. She had diarhea. I took the big black plastic bag that held the soiled paper towels and placed it on the floor. Using one paper towel after another, I finally cleaned up and the floor, even the wall. Tying up the plastic bag so that it looked like a shiney knapsack, the elder and I walked out into the foyer and handed it to the hostess. "Oh, thank you!" she told me, "You would be surprised at how many people don't clean it up."

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

When the family travels with my dad, a backpack is carried that contains briefs, plastic bags, black trash bags, latex gloves, baby wipes, and change of clothes (pants,shirt,socks). The backpack is restock after every trip and is easier to carry when pushing a wheelchair. Forget about other people and do what need to be done for your physical challenged relative. Most people thinks that it is great that you do not hide your relative and still show your love and respect under these difficulty situations. Daughter Caregiver.

PS Any suggestions about transfer people from wheelchair into cars.

Superstring answered...

We always took a backpack with a change of clothes (and SOCKS), baby wipes, fresh diapers, plastic urinal when my husband was sickest. He recovered continence and now wears depends all the time for safety, but we should probably replace the baby wipes package. What a drag it would be if he suddenly had an accident and they were all dried out! p.s. I don't know how ANYBODY does ANYTHING without baby wipes. They've been a godsend for us.