How do I deal with my husband's difficult behavior around his incontinence?

Dear one of mort asked...

My incontinent stage III husband has started to try to go to the bathroom by himself. He wears pull up diapers. He stands at the toilet and tries to do what he used to do when he was well. He is unable to do this successfully and creates a mess, then pulls up his pants and goes back to bed. This often happens while I am sleeping. Doing this disarranges the extra padding I place in his diaper leading to a wet bed as well. I suspect that this is a temporary bump in our ride but would appreciate hearing about a care approach that could avoid some of the mess. In general, caring for him has not been difficult. Dear One of Mort

Expert Answer

Joanne Koenig Coste is a nationally recognized expert on Alzheimer's care and an outspoken advocate for patient and family care. She is the author of Learning to Speak Alzheimer's. Also, she currently is in private practice as an Alzheimer's family therapist. Ms. Koenig Coste also serves as President of Alzheimer Consulting Associates, implementing state-of-the-art Alzheimer care throughout the United States.

This must be so upsetting and exhausting for you. It certainly sounds as if you have done everything possible to make dealing with the incontinent issue as practical and simple as possible. While some medical-supply companies are now making 'male' incontinent briefs with a fly in the front to help eliminate the need to pull down the pants, I would strongly suggest adding the 'extra padding' to the bed and not to his diaper. The best way to do this is similar to how beds are prepared in hospitals and nursing homes with a 'draw sheet' layered over the fitted bottom sheet which has a waterproof mattress pad. Begin by folding a rubber sheet in half lengthwise and doing the same with a twin sheet. With the twin sheet on top of the rubber one, lay both perpendicular across the mid-section of the fitted bottom sheet. Tuck in the edges securely. If the bed is wet, simply remove and replace the top draw sheet. Although this initially may seem complicated, it is an easy procedure that will ultimately save you time and frustration while helping your husband (and you) get a better night's sleep. You may want to have a visiting nurse stop by your home and demonstrate how to arrange the draw sheet and how to quickly change it. Do take care of YOU!