TThis article was posetd on before on other sites, but we think it is important to share this with the members here.
Seven practical tips to approaching your parents in a dignified way.
It’s not easy when roles are reversed. That’s true for you as a caregiver, as well as your dad or mum as they age. It’s also probably decades since any of you gave a second thought to incontinence.
What makes it all the more challenging is that way back then, the person agonising over nappy rash was your mum or dad over your cute little tush. But they had it easy, in a sense. Getting you into a nappy or diaper was a given. They never had to convince you to put one on – it was just the right thing to do.
Sure, it took effort to finally toilet train you and wean you off the nappy or diaper, but that’s where the ‘battle’ ended. Getting you off the diaper was likened to accomplishing a life goal. In fact, it was celebrated – seen as a milestone towards growing up.
Denial, dread, doom?
Dealing with your parents’ need for diapers, on the other hand, may feel counter-intuitive at times. All these years, you’ve experienced them as independent adults, in control, leading the family. Then, the reality sets in that they may not be able to manage even their bodily functions as well as before.
Some may experience incontinence, needing adult diapers all the time. For others, it’s just slowness getting to the toilet. There’s the urge to urinate, and awareness of the need to go to the toilet, but the speed is impaired.
With that comes an inevitable sense of loss – for you and your parent. There may also be fear or frustration. Some respond in denial, others in dread that it spells the beginning of the end, “Am I growing old and useless?” they ask.
Others may try to hide the problem by staying at home. Unfortunately, they lose the freedom to go about daily activities as before. Sometimes, this leaves the whole family puzzled about this change in behaviour.
All these are rather natural responses. It is important to recognise and address how everyone is feeling. Sometimes, all it takes is asking with empathy, “This is tough for you, isn’t it?”
Followed by a statement in the vein of: “It’s tough for me too. But there’s nothing to be ashamed of. We all change as we age, and we are here to help and care for you”.
There are ways to talk to your mum or dad about adult diapers and confident continence care, while maintaining their dignity. Here are seven practical tips:
There’s no need to struggle with wet pants, stained furniture or embarrassing smells. It’s also unnecessary to be cooped up at home due to fear. Show your parent that he or she can go out of the house with confidence and continue to lead an active ageing lifestyle.
Let them know there’s now a comprehensive range of continence care products, beginning with gathered inserts for people with light incontinence (minor leaks when coughing) to ultra absorbent adult diapers for those who need it to last through the night.
Just be aware that pull-up pants are suitable for ambulant elderly (able to stand and walk), while adult diapers (wrapped with re-sealable tapes) are for those who are wheelchair-bound, or mostly cared for in bed.
Second, with most families living in HDB flats in Singapore, it is more bearable when the home smells clean and fresh. When someone at home experiences incontinence, other family members’ daily lives are affected too. For example, it takes time and effort to constantly clean up the place or wash soiled clothes. To minimise such tension, many elderly cooperate and use continence care products when it’s needed.
Identify your allies, and don’t get into WWW III about adult diapers with your parent.