Advice from carers of people with dementia about dealing with continence problems

Talking Point members and readers share advice on getting the right kind of help and products to deal with incontinence.

LadyA says,

'When my husband first started having "accidents" he was so mortified. So I picked a quiet time and brought him to Tesco and showed him that this was such a common problem that you can just buy pads in the supermarket! Not only that, but so many people suffer the same problem that the supermarket even does their own brand. He felt a lot better about it once he realised that there must be thousands more people with the same problem.'

John in London says, 

'Try to persuade the incontinence nurse to let you have the pull-on pants. Mum got into the habit of taking her pants off and wetting the bed. Onesies kept the pants on and were only £8. They wash and dry quickly and Mum likes the feel of the plush fabric, particularly if I warm them in the airing cupboard. Wet wipes are a godsend but don't flush them down the WC as they can easily block drains.'

Bisham says,

'My husband has been incontinent for some time. I use three to four pants with built-in absorbent pads every 24 hours. The NHS provides half the quantity I need. I put two pants on at a time with a booster pad inside the first. Changing is made easier because I just tear the inside pants off down the sides and remove the booster pad, place a new booster pad into the remaining pants.'

Moseley B13 says,

'My husband's fear of incontinence is the real problem – he is often afraid to leave the house. We have always been within reach of a disabled WC, for which we have a Radar key (I carry an emergency bag with rubber gloves, wet wipes and clean clothes). It's so important to keep calm about the problem, and to keep smiling and to hide the fact that bottom-wiping is my least favourite occupation as a carer.' 

Irene in Oxfordshire says,

'I give my husband incontinence pads – pants – to wear and dispose of them when they are wet, I wash his trousers and his pyjamas daily as the pads are not leak-proof, I have bought bed pads online which are waterproof and do not feel wet, and I have ordered similar pads to use on chairs. The incontinence is more worrying, time-consuming and leads to more crises than any other aspect of his dementia.'

stanleypj says,

'Faecal incontinence can be triggered and/or exacerbated by trying to address an underlying, and possibly longstanding, tendency towards constipation. For some people the use of medication or too big an intake of insoluble fibre can lead to a seesawing between constipation and diarrhoea that leads to incontinence. Eating oats (a soluble fibre) can help to deal with the problem in a gentler way that can reduce the likelihood of "accidents".'

nae sporran says,

'The pads provided by our incontinence clinic are not the most absorbent available. It does depend on how well they are fitted, and for that I rely on agency staff who are inconsistent. My other half has a habit of taking them off on her first trip to the toilet and then forgetting to get up when she needs to later in the night. Trying to refit pads at 1am when you are both half asleep is not easy.'

BeardyD says,

'Our continence clinic provides pull-up pants as standard. No problem with the quantities except that they deliver four months' supply at a time. The clinic offer different sizes but only one style. These are fine during the day but don't fit my wife well enough to stop leakage at night, so we buy night-time pants from a big name. For disposal I use nappy sacks, which are really meant for babies' nappies.'