Daniel L. Paris, MSW
Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse,
your loved one with Alzheimer’s develops incontinence. What do you do now? The
following letter and its answer may help with this puzzling combination.
My mother has had Alzheimer's for probably 8 years. She has just
begun having accidents in her bed and clothes. My father has briefs for
her, but we are wondering about a simple way to get her to wear them.
Perhaps you have some suggestions. Also if she wet them and changed
clothes she might to put the briefs in the toilet. Should we put a diaper
pail in the bathroom? Any ideas you have would be very helpful and much
appreciated. Mother is 78, as is my father.
Smith-Boivin of Mills View Adult Home in New York and Gladys Bunker of the
Alzheimer's Association of the Greater Palm Beach Area in Florida,
provided the following answer:
NorthShore Care Supply
incontinence products discreetly
including diapers, pads, wipes and
If it is environmental incontinence, related to Alzheimer's Disease
she simply may be forgetting how to find the bathroom in a timely way. In
that case, you may want to keep
door open and the light on, so the toilet is visible. Treat the protective undergarments as part of normal dressing
and don't make a big deal
over it. The more you make an issue of it, the more it becomes a battle.
Your mother may be unwilling to wear adult protective undergarments
because she finds them uncomfortable. There are a number of products
available, from simple, thin undergarment liners that enable a person to
continue wearing their own underpants to the full, protective
undergarments that feel like underpants. There are disposable as well as
reusable and washable products on the market today. Find the most
comfortable and reasonable product for your mother and your situation.
Protective bed sheets are also available. To the degree it is possible,
involve your mother in the decision of which product to use, showing her
all the available options. This will contribute to her sense of
independence, which is very important to an individual with Alzheimer's
diaper pail in the bathroom is an excellent idea. But remember, it will be difficult for your mother to learn a new task. It would be a good
idea for someone to assist her so they can remind her not to throw the
undergarments in the toilet. You could
also try securing a plastic garbage bag around the toilet bowl and
dispose of it later.