How can I talk to my loved one more effectively about incontinence?
Discussing incontinence with a loved one is something many family caregivers try to avoid. It's a topic that's often swept under the rug simply to forgo an uncomfortable conversation. As with most things, ignoring the problem only makes it worse. Don't let your loved one suffer in silence. Creating a dialogue is an essential step towards getting someone you love the care they deserve. Here are a few tips on how to discuss incontinence in a comfortable, respectful way.
EASE INTO THE CONVERSATION
Incontinence is not a word everyone is familiar with or comfortable using right away. In the beginning of discussions, use phrases like bladder leaks or loss of bladder control to describe incontinence, or ask if they wear pads for bladder leakage. Pay close attention to their responses and use the same language as they do to describe incontinence. Always be mindful of their feelings, and empathize with their experiences whenever you can. Don't blame them for not taking action or seeking treatment. Your loved one will be more open to discussion if they feel understood and respected.
ASSURE THEM IT'S COMMON
Tell your loved one that incontinence is not a disease. It's a symptom that affects nearly 25 million Americans every year, particularly in the senior population. In fact, as many as 1 in 4 women experience some degree of bladder leakage. Your loved one may feel embarrassed or ashamed, so emphasize that they are not alone. You may even want to introduce them to online forums and communities for those living with incontinence. Fostering a sense of community and belonging can help them accept incontinence and seek treatment.
PROVIDE THEM WITH SOLUTIONS
The goal is to properly manage incontinence, so keep the conversation solutions-focused. Encourage your loved one to visit a physician, who can properly assess their incontinence and provide the best solutions. Remind them that you are there to support them every step of the way and that, ultimately, anyone can live a full life with proper incontinence management.
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Source: Prevail eNurse Team.
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