The CareGiver Partnership Offers 10 Tips to Help Those with Dementia Manage Incontinence

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A recent study shows patients diagnosed with symptoms of dementia are more likely to be incontinent. Physician assistant and nutritionist Dianna Malkowski of The CareGiver Partnership offers practical tips for managing incontinence while coping with dementia and explains how one company is engaging minds and funding Alzheimer’s research.

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R.O.S. activity systems are designed to engage the minds of those managing dementia.

When patients have trouble recognizing physical urges or remembering where a bathroom is located, it can contribute to bladder or bowel incontinence.

Patients diagnosed with dementia have three times the rate of diagnosis of urinary incontinence and four times the rate of fecal incontinence, according to a study published in August in PLOS Medicine, a journal of the Public Library of Science. Dianna Malkowski, physician assistant, nutritionist and professional adviser for The CareGiver Partnership, a national retailer of incontinence products and other home health care supplies, explains the relationship between dementia and incontinence and offers 10 valuable tips for managing these conditions.

"Dementia refers to a set of symptoms, which may include loss of recent memory, poor judgment, or difficulty with language or performing familiar tasks. Alzheimer’s, a neurological disease, accounts for a large percentage of dementia cases, although there are other causes," says Malkowski.

"When patients have trouble recognizing physical urges or remembering where a bathroom is located, it can contribute to bladder or bowel incontinence. Certain medications also relax the bladder muscles or cause increased urination."

According to Malkowski, the Alzheimer’s Association is a valuable source of tips for helping a loved one cope with dementia and incontinence. Here are some ideas:

1. Regular reminders of where a bathroom is located.

2. Encouraging a regular bathroom schedule.

3. Ensuring the path to the bathroom is well lit and free of obstacles.

4. Proving visual cues, such as painting the bathroom door a contrasting color and posting a toilet sign on the door.

5. Increasing bathroom safety with grab bars, a raised toilet seat and a bath bench.

6. Providing clothing that is easy to remove, with no complicated belts or buttons.

7. Using an Incontinence Product Finder to narrow down products by gender, absorbency, style and price.

8. Explaining the importance of keeping skin clean, moisturized and protected, using products made to prevent breakdown and infection.

9. Protecting bedding and furniture with disposable pads.

10. Encouraging a loved one to cut back on fluids before bedtime or long trips, but never withholding fluids, which can lead to dangerous dehydration.

In 2012, The CareGiver Partnership joined forces with R.O.S. Therapy Systems, a North Carolina company that develops activity tools for seniors and adults living with dementia, Parkinson’s, and various physical and developmental challenges. R.O.S. products are designed to stimulate social interaction, increase engagement and positive emotions, and promote use of cognitive abilities. Each R.O.S. Benefit Bundle includes coupons for valuable savings from partnering organizations like The CareGiver Partnership and Visiting Angels. For each Benefit Bundle sold, R.O.S. donates $50 to the Alzheimer’s Association to help fund research and support programs.

To read more about incontinence, dementia, and other topics of interest to seniors and caregivers, visit The CareGiver Partnership blog.

The Public Library of Science is a nonprofit publisher headquartered in San Francisco, with an editorial office in the United Kingdom. It advocates open-access publishing as a sustainable way to publish peer-reviewed research. Read the full article on dementia and incontinence.

Dianna Malkowski is a Board Certified Physician Assistant and Mayo Clinic trained nutritionist specializing in diabetes, cancer, wound healing, therapeutic diets and nutrition support. She serves on the board of professional advisors for The CareGiver Partnership and enjoys working with patients and caregivers alike.

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