How can I handle washing my mom's clothes from her incontinence in a sanitary way?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My 80 years old mom has incontinence (both), and I have no choice but to wash her stuff in my washer. I use the same washer/dryer for my own clothes. How can I handle this in a sanitary condition? I use a lot of disinfectant when I do her daily laundry, but am grossed out about washing my clothes in the same washer.

Expert Answer

Incontinence is common with the elderly, and  can be tricky to deal with. The first thing that comes to mind is why isn't she using diapers or pads? There are an array of products available for adults. If you aren't comfortable bringing the subject up --- and it is sensitive, ask your mom's doctor to have the discussion. It may help to hire a home health aide to at least introduce your mom to incontinence products. Many people are more comfortable accepting help from nonfamily members with personal issues. Once your mom tries diapers, she'll learn how easy and discreet they can be. She'll be more comfortable. If she resists, it's time for tough love. This is one area where it's really OK for you to put your foot down -- as much as you can. 

By the way, there are medical treatments for incontinence. The results depend on many factors, including the cause.  Please discuss what's happening with your mom's doctor to help find the best approach. Good luck.