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Bladder or Bowel Incontinence among Seniors: Why wear an adult diaper?
A blog written by Debashis Datta (Khyaal content community member)
"He who is of happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden!"
According to the above quotation from the works of the renowned Greek philosopher Plato, a person with a positive outlook finds old age to be just as delightful as a youth. To our cynical selves, Plato's pristine idealism may seem incomprehensible for we doubt that physical discomfort owing to medical troubles or ageing poses a formidable challenge. However, with a little assistance from some medical accessories, it is now possible to live beautifully and preserve some degree of platonic happiness even when dealing with the physical indisposition that ageing brings along.
There are several physical issues that senior citizens deal with; we'll talk about one of these, uncontrolled excretory functions. "Bladder or Bowel Incontinence" is an appropriate term for precisely describing these kinds of issues.
Constipation, pregnancy/childbirth/menopause (for women), hernia, injury, old age, new medication, a disorder of brain functioning, neurological disorder, or other medical issues can all cause incontinence or a loss of control of the body function of passing urine and/or stools.
Urinary dysfunction can also result from diabetes, urinary tract infections (UTI), and, in the case of men, problems with the prostate gland such as enlargement or tumours.
Digestive issues or diarrhoea may also be the cause of bowel problems.
The Urinary Incontinence
The various categories are listed as follows:
Sneezing, coughing, lifting weights, or even a burst of laughter all have the potential to trigger involuntary urination. The term for this is stress incontinence.
Some people may have a sudden urge to urinate, followed quickly by the passing of urine. It is known as urge incontinence.
Others may experience constant urine leakage because their bladder constantly holds onto some urine and never empties. This type is called overflow incontinence.
Another type of incontinence is called functional incontinence, and it occurs when people urinate involuntarily as a result of both physical and mental medical dysfunctions, such as diabetes, etc.
Of course, there are cases of mixed incontinence, when older people may experience more difficulties with more than one type of incontinence described above.
When someone loses control over a simple everyday act of urinating, one feels low in self-confidence. A subconscious sense of guilt may also creep in. An intention to hide facts from others is strong in the initial stages, which gradually becomes impossible as the problem goes on, giving way to embarrassing situations, especially for younger guys.
It's best to confide in intimate friends & family and consult a doctor at the earliest in such a situation. If the symptoms are diagnosed to be conditions needing short-term or long-term tackling at one's personal level, then there are certain measures to ease your life. Taking the help of adult diapers is such a useful step for the senior citizen.
The syndrome of uncontrolled bowel movement deserves a separate discussion. To minimize this type of disorder, a healthy eating habit with an aim to avoid constipation and help faecal clearance is a must. One should consume fibrous foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. Oily and spicy foods are to be avoided. Food intake and sleep should be properly timed every day so as not to disturb one's biological clock. Light free hand exercises or yoga asanas are also very helpful to maintaining a healthy bowel movement, but should always be done under the able supervision of a good physician.
The bowel-related cases require a little more careful handling than those related to peeing. Except in mild cases, a senior needs diapers of heavy absorbency for perfect protection of the suffering person and a good level of comfort for him/her. High-quality odour protection and protection against infections are also prerequisites.
Comfort is a big issue here. After an instance of faecal discharge, the diaper should be changed as soon as possible, the prolonged use causes discomfort for the senior. Ideally, there should be a caregiver to take care of the senior citizen, but there are instances when an elderly go to the bathroom and changes the diaper himself/herself.
For prompt disposal of used diapers, the dust bin is to be kept ready with a plastic bag and an airtight cover.
Some Popular Misconceptions
It's a totally misinformed public belief that diapers are to be used only for babies and very ill patients. So if a senior needs it, drop your inhibitions, and go for using them without any inferiority complex whatsoever.
Another myth is that mobility is highly restricted after being strapped with a diaper. Wrong again, modern diapers are designed to be leakproof despite allowing all gestures, postures, walking and other normal activities.
The third misplaced popular idea is that one can’t dress properly while in a diaper. This is partially true and skin-tight apparel can't be opted for. But even after accommodating a diaper one can always choose carefully from one's wardrobe to have an attractive fashionable dress for a social gathering.
The last myth is that diapers are invariably associated with rashes and other skin problems. Good diapers have an effective antibacterial lining to prevent the possibility of a skin infection.
Efficiently designed adult diapers with perfect leak locks/odour locks are comfortable and easy to use irrespective of whether the senior citizen is working or relaxing wearing one.
There are two types of diapers suitable for use by adults: one is tape style, which is to be fastened onto the body by means of adhesive tapes at suitable places of each diaper and the other is pant style, which is to be worn like short underpants with elastic bands at the waist. Tape-style diapers usually require the help of a person other than the user. Pant-style diapers are easily worn by the user.
When choosing a diaper, the size is the first thing to be considered. The peripheral measurement of the senior’s waist and lower abdominal part is a guide to selecting the proper size of diapers, which are commonly marketed in three sizes: large, medium and extra-large.
Other points of importance are the liquid absorption capacity of the diaper and additional features like antibacterial lining, odour lock, etc. Every manufacturer boasts of the perfect leakproof performance of its own diaper products, but one can be sure only after actual use. It's best to buy a known brand trusted by the public for a long time. Here the trade-off between good quality and budget constraints is an issue. You can take the help of review videos exhibiting actual performance tests of different brands of diapers. There are many vlogs on YouTube, which come convenient when selecting a brand.
Some Practical Tips
If an adult uses diapers for 24 hours a day, he or she needs a minimum of 3 diapers. Each diaper can be used roughly 3 times after urination, although it depends on the actual discharge rate of a particular user and the absorbency of the diaper.
There's an indicator on the surface of each diaper which changes colour when it is wet to its full capacity.
There are side guards (a long thin flap on each side) running along the length of each diaper. Before wrapping and fastening the diaper on the body of the user, these side guards must be opened properly so as to ensure perfect leakproof effects.
Application of some amount of coconut oil on body parts covered by a diaper will help the user in maintaining healthy skin.
Preventive Use of Diapers
In some special cases, not strictly of any type of Bowel or Bladder Dysfunction, adult diapers are very convenient to prevent any hardship or a possible fall and injury, mostly during the evening hours. We are talking about seniors suffering from Arthritis, other problems related to movement, blindness (night-blindness) or any similar condition. Getting up at the night (maybe in the afternoon also) for visits to the toilet may be very risky for these senior citizens. Diapers can contribute to their safety and uninterrupted sleep on a temporary or long-term basis.
Didi, My Elder Sister
My Didi is a septuagenarian lady. About three years ago she had a fall while rushing to the toilet and suffered a painful fracture of the prominent bone of one leg. During treatment of her injury, she had to use portable urinal pots on the bed. When she recovered and regained her normal movement, the doctor said she had to be careful while walking. Out of anxiety, she developed Bladder Incontinence and continued using that urinal bottle. During her hours of rest in the afternoon and the night, sometimes she got her bed spoiled by leakage from the bottle. An unpleasant smell lingered in the air in her bedroom. All sorts of sleep disorders and mood swings became regular features.
One night her nurse bought one piece of the diaper to try on her. She did it to relieve herself of the trouble of handling the urinal pot twice or thrice a night. But the outcome was so satisfying that my Didi continued with it. She hasn't stopped using diapers since then. A caregiver is no longer needed for her, she sleeps fairly well and her sleep is uninterrupted. What's really outstanding is that her incontinence condition has improved, now she uses only one diaper during the night.
She has set an example of how effectively an adult diaper can be used to help a bedridden patient who eventually may almost cure herself of her uncontrolled urination syndrome. She is wearing diapers independently and disposing of them after use all by herself. She is more confident and self-reliant now.
I have also noticed she now drinks sufficient quantities of the water contrary to her days of confinement in her bed.
People who have difficulty emptying their bowels or bladders in a controlled manner have a tendency of drinking a minimum amount of water. This causes constipation, which in turn causes more enhanced incontinence and may also lead to troubles due to dehydration. Moreover, reduced drinks may increase the risk of kidney troubles and UTI or bladder infection. The use of diapers can do away with this problem of low water intake to keep one adequately hydrated and healthy.
Having said all that, it's still a bit difficult to come to terms with the notion of having to use diapers by an otherwise healthy and fit person with some symptoms of incontinence. It appears to be somewhat demeaning, discriminatory and disconcerting. If one can cross that initial psychological barrier and incorporate that little change in lifestyle, then life can be joyful again. A small positive step forward in behavioural patterns can do wonders in the lives of senior citizens.
Rediscovery of Inner Self:
To sum up, as we have already discussed, there are multiple advantages of using adult diapers as a means to combat inconvenience and embarrassment caused by incontinence issues among seniors. There is no denying that the use of this item can bring a sea-change in the health conditions of the affected senior citizens. Without being tedious and repeating points already listed above, it may be stressed that the biggest benefit is rediscovering one's vigour, independence and self-esteem, or in a nutshell - rediscovering one's own inner self!