For people affected by incontinence, choosing the right products is the key to managing the condition and leading a more normal life…
It’s estimated that urinary incontinence affects between between 3 – 6 million people in the UK. The condition is more common in women (10%) than men (5-6%). But, while people of all ages may develop a problem with controlling their bladder or bowel (which affects over half a million adults), incontinence is more prevalent in old age, with 15% of those aged over 85, and 50% of care home residents affected. ‘With a rapidly ageing population, we’re seeing more people who are growing increasingly reliant on products such as incontinence pads to help manage their condition,’ says Jacinta Welland, a Carer in Leamington Spa. ‘Choosing the right products can make a huge difference. It can help someone to feel more protected so they can enjoy normal everyday activities without worrying.’
So, what should you be looking for when choosing incontinence pads for someone who is resident in a care home? Jacinta offers the following tips:
Consider a person’s individual needs
Incontinence affects people in different ways. So, it’s not a case of one size fits all. The good news is that there are a wide variety of urinary incontinence products on the market to suit all needs. The most popular are pads and pull up pants. These come in different shapes, styles and sizes and work on the same principle as nappies in that they are designed (with special materials) to absorb urine, while keeping skin dry.
Pads or pants?
Whether someone needs pads, which can be worn with regular underwear, or pull up pants (with built in all-in-one absorbent protection) will depend on their level of mobility and type of incontinence – light, moderate or more severe. If someone is fairly mobile, they may prefer pull up pants with built in pads as these can feel more like wearing ordinary underwear. If someone is less mobile, has problems with arthritic hands, or requires assistance from a carer, easily disposable pads may be more convenient. Discreet pads may also be suitable for people with light to moderate incontinence.
Choose a product that offers the right level of protection
There are different types of incontinence. This means choosing a product that is comfortable, fits well and has the capacity to hold enough fluid (note the volume in ml on the pack) depending on the type of incontinence.
- Stress incontinence is where urine leaks out when you laugh, cough, sneeze, exercise or lift a heavy object. It affects around 40% of women and tends to occur as a result of weakness of the pelvic muscles – eg: after childbirth or on account of getting older when muscles may naturally get slacker. The amount of urine passed is usually small, so generally thinner pads for light to medium flow may be more suitable.
- Urge incontinence is where there is a sudden, intense urge to pass urine. This may be a temporary condition, for example, if someone has a bladder infection. Or, it may be a more permanent problem caused by an enlarged prostate, or as a result of a stroke, multiple sclerosis or some other medical condition or injury. Choosing a suitable pad, or pull up pants, can enable a person carry out everyday activities without worrying about embarrassing leaks.
- Total incontinence is where the bladder cannot store any urine at all which leads to frequent and heavy leaking. This condition can be very distressing and using thicker, more absorbent pads that hold a larger volume of urine for maximum protection can offer greater peace of mind.
There is always a solution
Finding exactly the right product may initially be a case of trial and error. So, it’s worth experimenting with different types of pads, or pants, until you find the perfect fit. With so many products to choose from, there’s no need for incontinence to make someone feel vulnerable and incapacitated as there’s always a solution.