Caring for a loved one who has a bladder problem can bring many changes and may not be easy. It may have a big emotional impact for the person you care for and also for yourself.
It is important to respect the wishes of the person suffering the bladder problem, as we are all individuals and deal with problems in different ways.
Encourage discussion about their condition, why it has happened and how it affects them. Be understanding, sympathetic and supportive of the changes needed to daily life and activities.
Try to understand their condition. Find out as much as you can about their condition and associated problems to help achieve a better understanding of their needs. Information is available in the FAQ page, but it may be useful to talk with their Doctor or Continence Advisor – but always ask permission first.
You can help them find what support is available and what equipment can be provided to improve their daily life, making it easier to cope and feel better about themselves.
Try to let them be in control as much as possible and make as many decisions relating to their conditions on their own. They should be in charge of their incontinence, rather than it controlling them. Encourage independence, and, if they are able, allow them the freedom to handle their own changing, replacing and/or cleaning as instructed by their doctor or nurse.
There will be awkward moments, humorous incidents and times when you realise that providing the best possible support is an enormously gratifying experience. Sharing and discussing these things will help retain a sense of balance and relieve frustration.
Make it easy to get to the toilet quickly. Clear a path by moving furniture and loose rugs that may cause a fall, or consider a portable commode in the bedroom. Clothing should be easy to remove and to clean. It may be advisable to use absorbent pads on the bed. These precautions are particularly important if any mental impairment is present.
Be prepared. When you’re not at home, take a bag containing all the items that you may need, such as spare continence products, hand wipes and spare clothing in case of a spillage or accident. Getting out and about can lift the spirits and put things back into perspective.
For spouses and partners, being intimate may at first cause some concern. Again, make sure you communicate about any limitations or pain experienced, any new fears about their body or self-consciousness. In the early stages it is common to suffer lowered self-esteem, especially about their body, so understanding and sympathy may be needed.
A good quality of life can be had by keeping informed and staying positive. Accept changes and be appreciative of each other. Although the bladder problem may involve changes in their anatomy, they are still the same person and need to be loved and respected as always.