Mica Phillips is the director of urology at Aeroflow Healthcare. Visit aeroflowurology.com.
According to the National Association for Continence, 25 million Americans currently suffer from incontinence, and the condition is found in more than half of nursing home residents. Left unmanaged, incontinence can lead to a variety of health issues. To help your patients benefit from an improved quality of life, learn how to detect the signs of urinary incontinence and guide them toward solutions.
There’s a stigma about incontinence, and patients may want to hide their problem due to embarrassment and anxiety. Seniors may also be unaware of their incontinence due to dementia or other conditions; they may not feel the urge to go or notice they have soiled themselves due to impaired senses of smell and feeling.
The first step toward helping patients with incontinence is to identify the problem and direct them to their doctor. Watch for the following signs:
- Wet stains around the home. Check your patient’s mattress, sheets and chairs for wet spots or yellow wet stains. This could be an indicator of wetting the bed during the day or night.
- Foul odors. Hidden stains on mattresses or soiled clothes will have a distinct smell.
- Oddly placed trash bags. You may find bags filled with soiled adult diapers or clothing. Patients may double- or triple-bag soiled items or incontinence supplies that they’re embarrassed to throw away in their regular trash bins.
- Changing fashion choices. Switching to black or other dark clothes can be an attempt to hide wet stains. Changing clothes multiple times a day is another sign.
- Bag choice. If they suddenly start taking larger bags when leaving the house, they may be carrying changes of clothes or other incontinence supplies.
- Sudden social withdrawal. Your patient may begin avoiding regular social activities due to incontinence, leading to additional impacts on quality of life.
Help With a Solution
Incontinence isn’t just embarrassing; it can be expensive, and not every patient can afford monthly supplies. Once the condition is recognized by a health care provider, patients may qualify through insurance to receive up to 200 incontinence supplies per month. There are a variety of briefs that look and feel like regular underwear, along with products such as underpads to protect mattresses and furniture.
It’s important to ensure that patients are getting the right supplies for their needs. Home medical equipment (HME) dealers are able to assist patients and reduce the risk of accidents so they can maintain their lifestyle and freedom. A supplier is able to ship products directly to the patient’s home in discreet packaging.
A quality HME representative will also check on your patient each month to see if they need to alter their supplies, such as swapping sizes due to weight loss or gain or finding a more absorbent option.
HME suppliers can serve as trusted sources to help patients handle their incontinence needs. There is no need for them to worsen their health by trying to hide the condition. Once you notice signs of incontinence, take the steps to help them lead happier and healthier lives.