Incontinence in Elderly Travelers: Some Helpful Hints

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bathroom-sign-300x201.jpgGoing on a long journey can be a challenge for anybody. It can become even more challenging when incontinence in elderly traveling companions is a factor. For those in this situation, the following hints may be helpful.

Allow more time. When planning a 10-hour car trip, usually the last thing on anybody's mind is making it longer. The driver, in particular, is usually eager to get to the destination as quickly as possible, especially if holiday traffic is being added into the mix. But when incontinence in elderly companions is on the table, it’s better to be realistic and to simply plan on a longer trip. There will be a need for more frequent bathroom breaks, and those breaks may take longer than the driver is accustomed to. Sometimes it may be wiser to break the trip up into 2 days rather than attempting to do the whole thing in one long haul.

Think about timing. In addition to considering how much time should be allowed, it pays to consider the ideal time for the driving to begin and end. Does Grandfather have certain periods of the day when he tends to have better control? If so, try to plan the bulk of the trip during those periods. If Mother usually needs to have a bathroom break an hour after eating, keep that in mind and start looking for a rest stop before too much time has passed after lunch.

Know the triggers and prepare for them. Most home caregivers become aware of certain triggers that cause incontinence in elderly patients in their charge. Some common culprits include caffeine, alcohol, and chocolate. Steering Uncle Ed away from these choices while on the road can be a big help.

Expect accidents. Even with the best planning, accidents happen. Be prepared for this possibility. Make sure that there are several changes of clothes that are easily accessible. Bring an air-tight container to put soiled clothes in. If adult diapers are used, keep a good supply on hand. Cover the car seat with a plastic protector, or with sheets or towels — and have plenty of extras on hand in case they are needed.

Be patient. Above all, remember that incontinence in elderly individuals is awkward and embarrassing for the seniors involved. Being understanding and compassionate will make the situation much more tolerable for all concerned.

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