How Do I Lessen Embarrassment for an Incontinent Person?

13 answers | Last updated: Nov 01, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

What's the best way to respond to incontinence accidents to lessen the person's embarrassment?


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.

The best response is to show no embarrassment yourself. A direct, matter-of-fact attitude helps the person save face and helps you both deal with the situation rather than focusing on the feelings around it.

That's not to say you should ignore the feelings. Simply acknowledge them with empathy and move on: "I see you wet yourself. It happens, sometimes. In fact, it happens to a lot of people when their bladder starts to work differently. Not a big deal -- here, let me help you." Or for repeated accidents: "Oh, Mom, I know you're frustrated. You've been having a lot of problems. Would you like to go to the doctor to see if there's some medicine or something that can help?"

If humor is a style that works for you both, this can be a good opportunity to use a little of it: "Well, I guess now you can be like those glamorous ladies on the TV commercials who are advertising all those protection products!"

What if you can't help it -- you are embarrassed? Don't try to hide it. Admit it (but do so with sensitivity): "Well, I'm not sure what to say. I know you don't like me talking to you about something so private." Many older people are very good at tuning in to your real feelings and appreciate your being direct about them.


Community Answers

Alternitve-treatment answered...

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Icareman answered...

I PERSONALLY FIND IT EASIER TO TRY AND MAKE LITE OF THE SITUATION AND LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE FOR ANYTHING!!WHEN IT DOES OCCUR I JUST TELL MY HONEY IF IT'S NUMBER TWO IT'S GONNA COST YOU, I TELL HER I WEIGH IT AND ADD IT TO THE COMPOST PILE IN THE BACKYARD. AND BEFORE SHE LEAVE'S ME TO JOIN OUR MAKER SHE HAS TO COME UP WITH THE MONEY. ALOT OF PEOPLE FIND THAT PART OF CAREGIVING PRETTY NASTY, MAY I SUGGEST TO THOSE STICK A LITTLE VICKS VAPO RUB IN THE NOSE


Lindasue answered...

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Kathleen.j. answered...

I like the sense of humor angle. When I keep an up attitude, he goes along with the problem easier. I hadn't really heard "why?" the incontinence. So its a weakening of muscles?


Emily m. answered...

Hi Kathleen.j,

There are many causes of incontinence. If you'd like to learn about some of the causes for urinary incontinence, take a look at this Ask & Answer page: https://www.caring.com/questions/what-cause-urinary-incontinence.

If you still have questions about incontinence, you can post your very own Ask & Answer questions, here: https://www.caring.com/ask.

I hope that helps, take care!

Emily | Community Manager


Drweesner answered...

Don't forget the non-age related reasons. My mom has used depends for a long time, and usually manages to not wet the bed or clothing. This past week she had 2 big accidents and was having to go to the bathroom every hour. Seeing her doctor on an unrelated matter they did a urine test and she had a UTI not sensitive to the antibiotic she was on for a respiratory infection. I guess the lesson is if a previously stable level of incontinence suddenly worsens consider having them checked.


Muggins answered...

We are just beginning with this problem at night. So my spouse now wears Depends at night. I refer to it as "nighttime underwear" every night. And then in the morning, I refer to "daytime underwear". He is unable to descern the difference between the two products. Thus there has been no problem with the difference between both. I have purchased a waterproof pad for the bed, of course. But it looks just like a regular mattress pad.


Sport1317 answered...

I started to have incontinence problems a few yrs ago.I talked to my wife and desided to go with diapers and a waterproof mattress.That conversation wasn't easy for me but found out had prostate problems and being diabetic.Male ego was hurt but learned to cope.


Lindasue answered...

Just a tid bit ~ I never refer to Depends as diapers ~ they are "briefs" to me. . . . I don't even call them by their brand names. I do however, like anothers "daytime underwear" and "nighttime underwear". . .


Ca-claire answered...

When Dad has an incontinence problem, I am not there. I just casually remind him when he mentions that he had an accident that there are 'disposable underwear' that he can use in his underwear drawer, should he choose to do so. This will keep his incontinence private. He has yet to use them, but the day is coming when he'll have to.


Gi brdes husband answered...

One should be aware that certain prescribed incontinence medicine will work against any AD prescription medicine so be certain you are not trying to cure one problem and killing the patient. There are some procedures that can be done if the patient can stand minor surgery.


Ca-claire answered...

My Father now wears the adult diapers that Hospice provides. There is one caregiver over the weekend that still lets him use regular underwear at night, but she has to clean up when he has the problems with the urinal, so sooner or later he will be in them 24/7. We are just matter of fact when he has an accident, we don't ignore it, nor do we draw attention to it.