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CARENOTES | Past Carenotes | Let's Talk


Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 09/20/11

My father survived prostate cancer by finally having an orchiectomy after a few bouts with chemo and radiation. He now has the side effect of incontinence. My mother told me the issue has become a stressor in their life. She was nearly in tears telling me that he had soiled his pants at bridge club and it went through to the chair. The host (a close friend of theirs) commented to my mom about it. At that point, I realized she needed help in having the conversations. This is where I thank the good Lord that my employer has required all employees to take classes on handling delicate situations with dignity and on various methods of directing conversations. It has suddenly become more useful in my private life than I’d ever imagined.

There are some moments in life you hope to never have. They definitely include having to help your parent (especially of the opposite gender) go to the bathroom and having an incontinence discussion with them. Both of these moments have recently come to pass, so not much scares me anymore, other than losing them all together.

I thought about it long and hard. I decided it would be important to sit my dad down in private and be sure to emphasize the intent, not the content of the conversation. There are several key points that needed to come through in the conversation, so that was my focus. I started with letting him know the conversation was not to hurt him or diminish his ego, but because I care about him and his future. I wanted to be candid with him because I LOVE HIM! After all, he is my daddy and still a super hero in my eyes.

Main points: 1. I understand that it isn’t his fault. He has a medical reason for the problem. There is no one to blame for the problem, but he does have control over the outcome by using security undergarments. 2. I don’t want him to be alienated from his friends because they are all afraid he might soil their furniture. 3. With his medical condition, having “wet britches” could lead to rashes and ulcers; he doesn’t have the sensation to recognize chafing anymore. 4. I can remind him of the comments made about our Auntie M, who always had soiled clothes. We were all embarrassed for her, but nobody knew how to address the issue. Why would anyone be any less empathetic toward him? 5. Today’s options are so much more comfortable and hygienic than the ones from 10 or 20 years ago. 6. Walking around with wet pants doesn’t fool anyone. People realize that there is a problem and will respect him more for taking control of the problem than trying to hide it (unsuccessfully).

If anyone else is having a similar issue with a parent or loved one, please share your wins and learning moments so we all can grow in our understanding of how to help with these situations.


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Name: Deborah G.
Location: Greensboro NC
Date: 09/26/2011
Time: 04:24 PM


You approached your dad in a kind and thoughtful way. I hope he understood and accepted your suggestions. He may also consider carrying a "puppy pad" to sit on in cars and seats. You can find them at any pet or big box store and have someone disguise it by sewing a cover to slip it in with a velcro closure, allowing you to remove the pad and wash the cover. Another option would be cutting up a padded vinyl table cloth into seat size squares, which also could be washed. It might also be a good idea to keep a change of clothes in the car trunk so if he has an accident he doesn't have to sit wet, or leave and feel that he's spoiling the event for others. I think people should pack a bag for situations like this that includes one day of medications, snacks, water, blankets, special needs, medical records and emergency contact numbers, just in case of an emergency, to keep in the car. You may have to spend a night sometime at an ER or hotel for lots of reasons, and knowing you're set for a day really calms all the "Oh my gosh, what do we do now?" fears. (I have a friend with MS. One afternoon she got home from the store finding the homes around hers were blocked by sheriff's because of a domestic standoff; hers being used as a command post. She had to stay overnight with her mom, and she was only able to get her meds because her son, a 911 dispatcher, made a private call to one of the deputies requesting he go into their home and bring them out to her). Last, in addition to disposable adult incontinence underwear, there is a company, Eversures, that sells adult incontinence underwear that is washable and reusable. (no I don't work for them) It's not much more expensive than regular underwear and absorbs liquid like the disposable kind. Most important it feels and looks like real underwear so the person wearing it may not even notice the difference. You can check it out here

Name: Ellen
Location: Ottawa,Canada
Date: 09/22/2011
Time: 08:30 AM


Wow!! What a wonderful, kind, loving thing to be able to do. Thank you for sharing this, & thus teaching us how to face similar hard talks.

Name: Susan Balla
Location: Brookfield, Ct.
Date: 09/20/2011
Time: 11:03 AM


I think what the daughter did with her father was wonderful. She treated him with respect and gave him the ability to deal with his problem. Together they came up with the answer. I am a Certified Nursing Assistant who works with the elderly. I can tell you how imbarrased some of these people get when they do soil out in public. Some people don't want to go out anymore because of their problem they have. But there are so many items that pertain to incontience that today the elderly can choose which color depends they want to wear. You cannot see the bulkiness under pants or dresses and the elderly will have the confidence to go on with their lives.

Name: Carol Kemmerer
Location: Florida
Date: 09/20/2011
Time: 06:16 AM


I am the caregiver for my husband who has incontinence and I have found that a pullup underware, such as Depends, plus a waterproof pant pulled up over that helps a whole lot.



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