As a caregiver, you want to provide the resources, support, and care you can to help your loved one live comfortably and happily. In addition to encouraging your loved one to engage in regular exercise, healthy eating habits, and consistent wellness visits with their doctor, it’s important to be able to help them with incontinence as well!
One way you can help the older adult in your life comfortably adjust to incontinence is by helping them with incontinence during the night. Of the 33 million adults who live with UI, five million also struggle with bed wetting. Bed wetting can occur at any age for a variety of reasons, but the most common reason for older adults is UI.
This guide will help you understand the many ways you can help your loved one with bed wetting, from having healthy conversations about nighttime incontinence, to proper skin care techniques and products to help them stay fresh and dry!
Let’s talk about it!
Things You Can Do To Help
Whether you care for a loved one in your own home, or are a paid caregiver at a facility, there are many ways you can help the older adult in your life with incontinence, especially if it occurs at night.
Here are some of the best ways you can help!
Despite how common incontinence is among older adults, there is still a damaging stigma around the issue that can cause those who have UI to feel alone, embarrassed, or unable to talk about it with others. However, incontinence is nothing to be embarrassed by.
One of the best ways to help your loved one is by encouraging them to talk with you about incontinence or bed wetting. Having healthy conversations about incontinence can be difficult, so bring it up lovingly and only talk about it if they’re ready. If they don’t seem ready to talk to you about it, just let them know that you’re willing to listen and be there for them.
You should also encourage them to talk to their doctor. Their doctor will be able to help them understand why they may be struggling with bed wetting and diagnose which form of incontinence they have. In addition, their doctor can tell them what may be causing this incontinence, and which treatments may be best to help!
Encourage Incontinence Products
Despite how common living with incontinence is for older adults, there is damaging stigma around this challenge, specifically around adult incontinence products and underwear.
Thankfully there are tons of resources to help the older adult in your life with incontinence, especially when it comes to incontinence during the night.
There are a variety of products that can cover sheets and protect your older adult’s bed as well.
Try an extra-waterproof bed protector for an added level of absorption. These are also a great way to ease your mind and your loved one’s mind and help you both sleep worry-free!
An added bonus is that you can bring these protectors wherever you go! They are great for adding an extra level of protection during long car-rides, sitting on the couch, or even sitting at a chair as they quickly absorb leaks or spills and add protection where you need it.
To use these protectors, place them so the colored surface is against the surface you’re protecting. They’re easily disposable and gentle on skin, so you can bring these protectors to the bed, or anywhere you need extra coverage.
Bladder Protection Underwear
One of the most popular ways to manage incontinence is through the use of bladder protection underwear. Encouraging your loved one to use adult underwear is a great way to help them stay dry throughout the night and avoid leaks!
Try an overnight underwear for women or an overnight underwear for men to stay fresh and clean longer! These overnight underwear help eliminate odor, keep your loved one dry through the night, and protect from leaking, so you both can sleep worry-free!
There are a variety of other incontinence products that can make living with incontinence smooth and comfortable. To learn more about how you can help your loved one dispose of incontinence products used during the night or how to choose the best incontinence products for them, check out these resources!
Encourage Proper Skincare
In addition to causing discomfort and interrupting sleep, bed wetting can lead to skin issues around the genitals, buttocks, hips, and perineum (the space between the pubic bone and tailbone). Another great way to care for your older adult while they struggle with bed wetting is by encouraging proper skin care techniques!
Here are some common skin issues caused by bed wetting and how you can encourage skin care habits in your loved one’s night time routine to protect against them!
One of the most common skin issues that bedwetting can lead to is a rash. Especially if the skin is exposed to urine for long periods of time, a rash can develop and cause the skin to soften and break down. This can be irritating and cause other problems as well.
The best way to avoid rash is by keeping the area clean and dry and the skin moisturized. Using a gentle cleanser during the night or in the morning is a great way to ensure the area is clean, while being non-irritating to the skin, especially if the skin already has a rash.
Adult underwear for the nighttime can also protect the skin from being overexposed to urine and keep the area dry and clean. However, if the skin is too dry, this can cause irritation and lead to rash as well. Because of frequent wiping, cleaning, and drying, it’s important to also supplement the skin with moisturizer. A soothing aloe-based moisturizing wipe can do wonders for irritated skin and prevent further irritation due to bed wetting!
Sores and Ulcers
Soreness or ulcers can be another result of urine exposure to the skin. If your loved one is involuntarily bedridden due to injury or sickness, they have a much higher risk of developing pressure ulcers. If your older adult is bedridden, it can be helpful to change positions frequently, change sheets and incontinence products right away, and check regularly for sores.
A wheelchair can also put your loved one at a greater risk for developing pressure sores, so be sure to check for these sores every day and use proper skincare cleansing and moisturizing techniques to protect their skin.
Another risk of bed wetting is infection. Skin rash and irritation as well as pressure sores can quickly turn into a bacterial or fungal infection. Because of this, it’s important to understand products that can protect their microbiome and skin barrier.
A zinc-based skin cream is a great way to protect the skin's barrier, relieve inflamed or damaged skin, and strengthen skin cells to prevent irritation! Packed with Zinc and Vitamin E, this cream repairs and strengthens the skin barrier to keep skin protected through the night.
If the loved one you care for develops serious infection, it’s important to see a doctor or health professional. In addition to prescribing medicine to help the ulcers, their doctor will be able to give help on how to prevent sores and infection in the future.
Encourage Diet and Exercise
Many older adults may feel as though their incontinence and bed wetting is unmanageable. However, this is not true! There are a variety of ways to manage bladder leaks and help better control your bladder, and one of these ways is through exercise!
Bladder control exercises come in various forms. Kegel exercises are characterized by the contraction of the pelvic floor muscles. To perform kegel exercises, simply contract these muscles by pretending to stop urine flow, hold this contraction for a few seconds, and then release. You may repeat this exercise for two to three minutes, a few times each day.
There are other ways you can help your loved one, including guiding them to eating a nutritious diet and regularly exercising to help with bedwetting.
Encourage your loved one to eat a nutritious diet while limiting foods and drinks that irritate the bladder such as alcohol, caffeine, citrus fruits, spicy foods and acidic foods.
In addition, there are exercise tips for urinary incontinence to help your loved one continue engaging in regular exercise, incontinence products that can promote comfort during exercise, and which exercise to do!
These things can have a significant impact on your loved one’s incontinence and bed wetting and encouraging these activities is a great way to show your older adult support and help them live comfortably and independently!
Caring for an older adult who struggles with incontinence during the night and bed wetting can be a challenge. But there are many ways you can help your loved one through this challenge!
By encouraging openness and conversation about bed wetting, helping them find incontinence products to sleep worry-free, encouraging skincare techniques to protect from rash and irritation, and helping them implement diet and exercise to help with incontinence you can give the support and care they need to live confidently and comfortably!
For more on incontinence and resources to help, check out these resources and tools!