Dealing with Incontinence

jannieDecember 20, 2011

My DH is 65, afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis and Alzheimers. He had a bad seizure last January and has been pretty bad ever since. His Neurologist has basically washed his hands, sees him every 6 months but I'm doing the caregiving. He takes several medications, including Aricept for Alz., Copaxone for MS, and Tegritol to prevent seizures, alsp . One thing that happens (well,two) is incontinence. He wets his pants daily and has frequent bowel accidents. I clean him up, clean the floors and carpetting and have found ways to get feces and odor out of clothing (borax helps). But DH is very independent. He refuses to wear adult diapers. When I bring it up, he says I'm "mocking" him. What can I do? I've considered hiring an aide to help him, hpoing they would either: 1. be firm and insist he wear a diaper or 2. be willing to clean up after him. What's the best way to deal with this?

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First of all, stop referring to incontinence products as adult diapers. Call them another name, such as specialized underwear or pull-up underwear, etc. My mother was in a memory care unit and the staff never used the word, "diaper." They called them "pull-ups."

I realize this is a difficult situation for you, but if you are cleaning up after bladder AND bowel accidents, your husband should be beyond the stage of worrying about being mocked. True, he may be embarrassed by wearing special underwear. But you need to make the case in no uncertain terms that his pride is creating a tremendous amount of extra work for you. Plus his accidents aren't a secret. You know all about them and want to help him preserve his dignity by allowing him the ability to have accidents without needing hours of cleanup. The post-accident cleanup he creates is more demeaning than wearing specialized underwear.

I've attached a link to the new Depend men's underwear. It comes in colors and is styled like a regular male brief. Perhaps something like this would be a good start for your husband. It's probably pricier than a drugstore knock-off. But it might be good during this difficult transition.

Here is a link that might be useful: Depend Underwear for Men

    Bookmark   December 21, 2011 at 12:02AM
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jannie, you have mail.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 1:34AM
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Listen to shambo. This "independent" idea is just nonsense. The man must be compelled to make a mental adjustment. Can be done gently/tactfully but MUST be done or your life is going to be lived in ...........

Finding a care-giver that's willing to clean things up all the time while their employers ignore the obvious may be difficult.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 9:45AM
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You need to try to figure out how his mind is working and respond to that rather than what you really hear.

He says, "you are mocking me." Then, instead of saying you are not....simply say that cleaning up his crap is Not mockery. It's a nasty chore and you don't like it. He probably doesn't remember how often it happens. But tell him that even once, is too often.

Try not to argue. State the facts. This is going to get worse. A care-giver isn't the solution. It would take a load from your shoulders, but unless he goes into a home of some sort, the main chores will be yours.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 4:43PM
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A hearty, "Amen!" to what both asolo and agnespuffin said about finding caregivers to handle the problem. When my mom lived with us, she had daily accidents with bladder and bowel incontinence. One day I spent over six hours cleaning up from one of those accidents. I'm sure you can understand -- cleaning her up, dressing her in clean clothes, washing & treating the bedding, cleaning the bedroom rug, wiping down the entire bathroom and shower, deodorizing my mom's half of the house, etc. I was exhausted and my back was done in from lifting her and holding her up while I was cleaning.

So, we hired caregivers to give me a break. We started with just three hours a day and eventually worked up to 8 hours a day. But it never failed that as soon as they went home, she'd have an episode. No matter what, I always ended up doing the cleaning.

All that to say this: hiring a caregiver is not always a solution. Plus there is absolutely no guarantee that your loved one will be more cooperative with a stranger, even a nice and loving caregiver. I could tell you more tales, but you don't need to hear those now.

Wearing incontinence protection like Depend actually preserves a loved ones dignity. It gives them enough time to get to a bathroom and take care of things privately (even if you're helping with the cleanup) without announcing to the world via leaks, dribbles, stains, hideous smells, etc. that there's been an ACCIDENT.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 6:10PM
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You might consider finding a Dr. that will check out the meds he is taking, and give you more support. Also look around for a support group, adult day care center, and yes, even a nursing home . Many times people will do things at home they might not do other places. I personally could not do what most wifes should do. My back and legs would give out and I would upchuck at cleaning up. But that is me. Good luck for finding a Dr. to help out and other support.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2011 at 4:01PM
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My husband suggests that you gradually replace his underwear with Depends pullups. When he gets used to seeing them in his drawer, he may not object to using them so much. If he asks, tell him you had to throw away the soiled ones.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2011 at 6:05PM
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He's wearing adult diapers around the clock now. We did hire an agency to send aides three afternoons a week and it's so helpful to me (the caregiver wife). I am also looking for a caregiver support group I can join. Someone on another post kindly provided a great link.Hubby is sometimes aware of the work I do for him. In one day he'll say "I hate you" when I tell him he smells bad and needs to change his shirt, then a few minutes later he'll gewntly touch my hand and say thank you.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2012 at 8:27AM
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