The holidays are around the corner. These times are meant to be joyous and filled with opportunities to create long-lasting memories. However, for the person caring for someone with incontinence, it can be challenging and even overwhelming to balance all of the responsibilities needed to manage incontinence while preparing for holiday festivities. By planning ahead, caregivers and their loved ones can certainly find ways to get the most enjoyment out of the holiday season.
Establishing a good incontinence management plan and a solid routine for care is essential to keeping happy, healthy, and organized. By having a good plan, you will be better at providing care to your loved one and still have the time and energy to care for yourself and enjoy the people and festivities surrounding you.
Here are some tips to make the holidays great!
1.) Be prepared and involve your loved one in the preparation. If you have the opportunity to take your loved one out, make sure to take them to the bathroom. Always pack extra incontinence products with you and even a change of clothes. It is important to reassure your loved one that you are prepared. Often the one suffering from incontinence can become distressed, depressed, or nervous about leaving for fear of becoming embarrassed or uncomfortable. Some may even feel as though they are burdening the one who is caring for them. Be sure to have a conversation prior to leaving to boost their confidence. This will ensure that they enjoy the outing as much as you will.
2.) Evaluate the travel plan and map out as much as possible in advance. Remember that your loved one will not know where public restrooms are. If you plan on taking your loved one to another persons home, be sure to locate the bathrooms immediately and make sure they are barrier free, easy to access, and safe.
3.) Make sure there is a quiet place to retreat to. Large crowds and noise can lead to anxiety, irritability, and exhaustion. Frequent breaks away from all of the chaos can help alleviate this. Plan for quiet time, rest, or even a nap. If your loved one starts to appear anxious, take them to the quiet area before the anxiety escalates. Monitor facial expressions and tone of voice throughout the day. Fidgeting, swaying, raising their voice, and restlessness are all signs of agitation. Whatever you do, do not become frustrated. Keep your cool and a good sense of humor.
4.) Make sure your loved one participates in as many activities as possible. Remember, you are not just caring for your loved one, you are making memories. Share photos, tell stories, sing songs. If your loved one is not capable of participating in any of those activities, try reading a holiday story with family and friends. This will be relaxing while keeping them engaged.
5.) Be discreet. When the time comes to provide personal care to your loved one, be discreet to avoid any embarrassment. Don’t announce to everyone that you are taking your loved one to the bathroom. Make sure to discuss with friends and family members prior to arrival or pull them aside shortly after and explain what is going on and what you will be doing as to avoid any questions, comments, or concerns in the presence of your loved one.
6). Be prepared for meal time. It is extremely important to provide dignified, discreet care. Be sure to take your loved one to the bathroom before dinner and do any incontinence product changes, personal care, or clothing changes. This will ensure that everyone gets to sit together and enjoy the meal and any discussion taking place. Having to excuse yourself from the table to take your loved one to the bathroom will only increase their anxiety and level of embarrassment.
7.) Ask for help. Additional help from another friend or family member can relieve the caregiving responsibilities throughout the holidays. If you do have someone helping you, be sure to notify the person you are caring for to avoid any confusion. Make sure they are equipped to provide the same care as you would. If you do not have anyone available to help you provide personal care for your loved one, perhaps they could help out in other ways.
8.) Remember that someone suffering from incontinence can often feel lonely, depressed, and may even feel as though they have lost their independence. The holidays can escalate these feelings. Make sure to listen and keep an open line of communication with your loved one. Understand and take time to validate their feelings and initiate conversations about all of the positive things that are taking place around them. It is not uncommon for your loved one to feel as though they have lost their independence. Be sure to reinforce that you understand and that you will be there to help them.
The strategies listed above are a great start to helping you care for your loved ones throughout the holidays. Below are some quick tips to help you help yourself.
1) Be sure to take time for yourself. Make sure you have scheduled yourself some down time on a regular basis, even if it is only for a few minutes. Go for a brisk walk, or enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, call a close friend, or even read a book
2) Stay healthy. How you manage your health can affect your loved ones. Be sure to get plenty of rest.
3) Find additional support. Find an online support group that specializes in incontinence. These groups can be of tremendous help to you.
4) Stay positive.