What factors should you consider when caring for an incontinent adult?

2 answers | Last updated: Oct 05, 2016
Nathalie smith asked...

What factors should you consider when caring for an incontinent adult?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

When taking care of someone with incontinence, there are many factors to consider.

First, why are they incontinent? Is their mobility poor? Do they urinate frequently? Are their medications to blame (i.e., diuretics)? I would let their health care provider know that incontinence is a problem, as they may be able to help you figure out why this is happening. If it is medication related, they may be able to stop or reduce problem medications to make the incontinence more manageable.

Second, when are they incontinent? At night? During the day? All the time? The times of incontinence really makes a difference on how you would manage them. For instance, if they are incontinent during the day, perhaps they cannot get to the bathroom in time because it is too far away. This is something that a toileting schedule may help. If the incontinence occurs at night, sometimes a bedside commode can be helpful.

How will you deal with incontinence episodes? Think about what kind of pads you will need to use for protection. They may need a small pad when wearing clothes, and a larger pad at night for more absorption. Keep in mind that these pads are expensive, which is something many people don't think about.

Lastly, think about skin care. They will need something to cleanse themselves after an accident. Some people will use baby wipes- just make sure they are hypoallergic and scent free, as this will reduce skin irritation. Pads need to be changed as soon as possible after they become soiled. Keep in mind that many people who are incontinent will have skin breakdown, rashes, or irritation from their incontinence. I would recommend barrier creams like A&D ointment or Desitin if the skin becomes really irritated.

Hope that this helps!

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Factors include: 1.How you are going to clean them? 2.Are the incontinence pads the right fitting for the client? 3.Do the incontinence pads have the appropriate absorbency? 4.Is there close access to a commode? 5.Is there a bedside urinary? 6.Does the client require a bed pan? 7.What type of incontinence is it? 8.Does the client take any medication which could increase the urge to urinate?