When a loved one has undergone prostate surgery,
incontinence may result as a complication. The
prostate gland is an organ surrounding the male
urethra, which is the passageway for urine to exit
the body. After any destruction to the gland,
either through treatment for cancer, or a removal
due to the prostate’s non-cancerous enlargement,
there is a chance for incontinence.
Incontinence itself is not a “disease,” but a
symptom or side effect of another condition which
underlies it. In both men and women, the
spinal cord nerves assist with bladder sensation and
control, as to the muscles surrounding the pelvis.
Many conditions can be treated, but until full
treatment is implemented and is successful,
incontinence must be dealt with.
Addressing the matter with your loved one will help
ease their stress and yours. As an unwanted
condition that is embarrassing to the loved one, it
is important for caregivers to have “control”
options available. Some may come in medication
form prescribed by the doctor. Others are
medical supplies that can be purchased over the
counter, or via insurance if covered.
TYPES OF INCONTINENCE
Incontinence can occur at nighttime in individuals
of any age. Known as enuresis or “bedwetting,”
it is attributed to children. This
psychological stigma may prevent your loved one from
dealing with the situation. As a caregiver,
you may be inclined to call them “accidents.”
Although they may occur less frequently than with
other types of incontinence, take the “better safe
than sorry” approach on a nightly basis.
Environmental incontinence occurs in households that
have too many obstacles between the individual and
the bathroom. In one bathroom homes, children
or visitors may be occupying the facilities when the
urge appears. This type of incontinence can
also occur on trips of any length.
Total incontinence may occur when there is damage to
the bladder or urethra, and is constant. This
is the most taxing upon caregivers and loved ones,
and requires more intervention.
Both reflex and functional incontinence can occur in
patients who have dementia, stroke or other sensory
awareness dysfunctions. As with total
incontinence, interventions that are more advanced,
or combined with medication and fluid control, can
Women’s menstrual cycles predispose them to
tolerating pads for extended periods of time.
Men may be resistant to wearing pads to absorb
leakage from a bladder that is recovering from
surgery (or other issues that affect bladder
control). Current state of the art design in
pads make for an easier transition period as the
incontinence is treated.
Depending on your loved one’s level of cooperation,
bladder pads can be an option. Adhesive strips
keep pads in place, and absorb small leaks, such as
those from stress incontinence. There are
deodorant characteristics, allowing the pad to be
used for several hours, but they have saturation
points requiring changes when needed. Your
loved one will need to tell you they require a
change, or you will need to work out a spot check
Larger absorbent “pads” are meant for individuals
who have higher levels of urine leakage. They
are undergarment liners that come with their own
elastic belt and buttons, or with adhesive strips
that lock on to underwear. In most cases, any
“stick on” protectors are best used with brief
underwear rather than boxers. Briefs will
provide a better, more secure fit. Some higher
quality liners have moisture indicators that change
color depending on the saturation level.
Individuals who experience moderate incontinence may
need disposable briefs. Even in light flow
incontinence, briefs may be a choice for nighttime
usage. They allow both caregiver and loved one
to have a sounder and drier sleep during the night.
Some products will also have leg cuffs or elastic
legging to help keep the leaks contained better.
This is especially true if they are being worn at
social occasions where trips to the bathroom may be
hampered by other guests. Food and drink
intake may also be increased when out with others.
Protective briefs offer a measure of comfort for
overnight visits, too.
USE WHAT WORKS
Discuss medication options with the doctor in
addition to products that will help decrease
“bathroom anxiety.” While limiting fluids can
be done at home, it is important that your loved one
receive a consistent level of nourishment and
hydration. Encourage regular eating and
drinking patterns, but watch for products that
contain bladder stimulators, such as caffeine.
Caffeine “opens” the kidneys, and can also be
dehydrating in some instances, requiring more fluid
It’s sometimes a battle to get your loved one to
utilize adjuncts for intimate needs.
Maintaining an open communication is important, as
is compassion for your loved one’s fear of losing
control. When choosing a product to help keep
your loved one comfortable, consider all aspects.
You may need to start with a lighter product and
work into something with more coverage. When
possible, a mutual decision is the goal that scores
points all around.