The first step in caring for someone with bladder or bowel control issues is to acknowledge the problem. This can be the most difficult step. Some may have hidden the condition from family members and healthcare providers because of embarrassment or fear that they will be scolded or criticized. Many people think that there are no feasible treatment options and that they “just have to live with it.” In fact, one-third of all adults believe that bladder control problems are a natural part of aging and something to simply accept.

Caregivers should be sensitive to their loved one’s feelings surrounding incontinence and always maintain the strictest confidentiality when sharing information.

While some of this advice might seem obvious, when you are in the middle of an emotionally trying moment, try to remember some of these useful thoughts:

  • Know Your Role - As a caregiver your role is to be helpful. Be supportive and resourceful.  Avoid nagging and arguing with your loved one.
  • Be Willing - Coming to the situation willingly can positively effect your relationship with your loved one. There is tremendous strength and humility being in service to another person. Caregiving should strengthen the relationship, not weaken it.
  • Do Not Parent Your Parent - Adult children must remember that the person being cared for is an adult as well. Respect your parents' wishes, and don't force them to do things as if he/she is a child.
  • Exhibit Clarity and Self-Confidence - Be clear and self-confident in what you ask your loved one to do to ensure that they feel comfortable and secure in your care.
  • Take Care of Yourself - Do not get so wrapped up in your loved one's problem that you forget to take care of yourself. If you are an adult child taking care of a parent, set aside a day or two out of the week to check on your parent and stick to that schedule. If you're a live-in caregiver, such as a spouse, arrange respite care so you get a physical and an emotional break.
  • Be Patient and Understanding - You have to be patient with your loved one. Whether you are caring for a child or an adult, incontinence is an embarrassing condition. Take the time to understand the emotional effects the condition has on your loved one. If you're at risk of losing your temper, take a break or walk outdoors for some fresh air.
  • Ask For Help - You do not have to do it alone. Do not overwhelm yourself. There are doctors and nursing experts on continence care who can offer suggestions for caring for your loved one. Include NAFC as part of your team and participate in our message board for support, advice, and suggestions from others.