Mica Phillips is director of Urology at Aeroflow Healthcare.
For caregivers assisting patients with incontinence, creating a daily routine can be a simple way to reduce symptoms, and boost their confidence and independence. Creating a set schedule with reminders for patients can help relieve the stress and anxiety associated with incontinence symptoms. Here are three steps for creating an incontinence care routine.
1. Organizing Patient Medications
A majority of geriatric patients rely on complex medication plans that can cause confusion. Some 87% of seniors take at least one prescription drug and 36% take five or more, while 38% use various over-the-counter medications. Mixing up pills or missing a dose is not only dangerous but could also increase incontinence symptoms. To get a handle on medications, be sure to:
Create an up-to-date medication list: Gather all your patient’s medications and create a list of their names, what the pills look like, how often they need to be taken and at what times. It may also be beneficial to list why the medication needs to be taken and the contact information of the health care provider who prescribed it.
Organize medications for the week: Make sure your patient has a pill organizer with enough slots for each pill they need to take daily and for every day of the week. For example, if they take five pills a day, make sure their organizer has 35 slots. This will allow you to organize five doses for seven days.
Make sure the pills are ready to be taken, as well. For example, go ahead and split larger pills for your patient when necessary. This way, they won’t have to struggle with a pill splitter and get distracted when it’s medication time.
Set up a reminder system: Ensure that your patients won’t forget to take medications on time by setting reminders. Create labeled alarms that ring or flash when it’s time to take a pill. Also, keep a pen and a medication checklist near your patient’s pill caddy so they can check off each pill as it’s taken.
2. Understanding Incontinence
Taking the time to educate yourself on incontinence will ensure you are equipped to provide proper care and ease the embarrassment associated with the condition. This way, you’ll serve as a source of knowledge to help your patient remain clean, confident and comfortable.
Learn about incontinence by reading up on proper sources online. Avoid amateur blogs and forums and refer to medically reviewed articles to learn the proper facts about continence care. You can find plenty of tips on how to approach the topic of incontinence and discuss symptoms with your patient.
Once you feel comfortable with your patient, ask them about their incontinence to understand what unique symptoms they face, and the frequency of accidents or leaks. A supportive and understanding attitude will help your patient feel comfortable enough to open up.
It may also be beneficial to accompany your patient to their urology appointments in order to ask questions on how to best care for them. Once this connection with their provider has been established, you can help identify what makes symptoms worse, such as food triggers, to develop a personalized continence care plan.
3. Have The Right Incontinence Supplies
If your patient has the ability to be on their own for a few hours each day, make sure they have the proper incontinence supplies to stop leaks and keep themselves clean in order to prevent sores and infections.
Connecting with a durable medical equipment provider will help match your patient with properly fitting supplies, and reduce costs, by having a monthly supply sent directly to their home through insurance.
Some of the most useful incontinence products to have on hand include:
Adult pullups: Adult pullups are a form of absorbent underwear that can easily be pulled on or off. They don’t have any complicated fasteners to struggle with, making it easier for seniors to change themselves if an accident occurs.
Briefs: Adult briefs are different from pullups in that they resemble youth diapers with tab closures, but should always be referred to as briefs when associated with adult use. For seniors with fecal incontinence and for people in a wheelchair, the tearable side panels make removal easier and more hygienic than pullups.
Chux: Bed pads or chux are padded liners used to protect furniture, such as mattresses or chairs. They absorb leaks before they can seep into fabric, making messes much easier to clean up. The pads simply have to be removed and thrown into the trash.
Wet wipes: Wet wipes allow seniors to clean their skin without having to fully undress and take a shower. They can simply wipe away excrement and put on fresh, dry supplies. Barrier cream will also help protect the skin from dryness and irritation.
Aging and requiring care can make seniors anxious, but having a routine can help them settle in and make them much more comfortable. It’s important to build that routine around evolving needs and bodily changes. By helping patients stay organized and well-supplied—and by educating yourself on their needs, you can not only help patients but help your homecare practice maximize efficiency and grow.