Incontinence and dementia care

An older woman at the airport receives assistance from her support worker.

When a person with dementia finds that their mental abilities are declining, they’re likely to feel anxious, stressed and scared. They may be aware of their increasing clumsiness and inability to remember things, and this can be very frustrating and upsetting for them.

If you are looking after someone with dementia, you can help them feel more secure by creating a regular daily routine in a relaxed environment where they’re encouraged and not criticised.

Involving the person you look after in everyday tasks may make them feel useful and improve their sense of self-worth. They could help with the shopping, laying the table or sweeping leaves in the garden, for example.

As the illness progresses, these tasks may become harder for them to manage independently, and you may need to give them more support.

Many support workers on the Mable platform are trained in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. They understand the importance of comfort and familiarity for these special clients. The right environment and the right care worker can mean the difference between a good day and a bad day.

Their first priority is to ensure the home environment is safe for their client. They are committed to a long-term relationship – many have had the same clients for years. Having a support worker with whom the person with dementia is familiar, is reassuring and allows them to build a bond.

If you are considering in-home care options, or are looking to give respite to a family carer, Mable has a community of affordable independent support workers providing specialty in-home care for Alzheimer’s and dementia clients.

How support workers can help

  • Create a safe, comfortable home environment in which to remain in a familiar setting and avoid agitation
  • Reduce the risks of falls and other injuries through dedicated supervision. Support workers are available 24/7 to ensure safety even in the event of wandering, sundowning or other events
  • Provide the necessary social interactions to keep their clients’ minds sharp. Enhance their clients’ mood and combat depression through companionship
  • Help maintain the household upkeep, provide healthy meals and maintain a sanitary environment
  • Build a long-term relationship with their client, so they won’t need to manage an unfamiliar new face every week
  • Provide regular status reporting and feedback on their client’s mood, physical and mental health and daily activities to family or friends
  • Contribute to an improved overall quality of life for the client and loved ones.

Dealing with incontinence in someone with dementia

Incontinence can be difficult to deal with and can be very upsetting for the family carer as well as the person being cared for. It’s common for people with dementia to experience incontinence. This can be due to urinary tract infections, constipation causing added pressure on the bladder, or medication. Many of these conditions are treatable.

A person with dementia may also simply forget to go to the toilet, or may forget where the toilet is. They may also have lost the ability to tell when they need the toilet.

How you can help

It’s important to be understanding, retain a sense of humour and remember that it’s not their fault. You may also want to try the following:

  • Put a sign on the toilet door, such as a photo of the toilet keep the toilet door open and make sure that the person you care for can access it easily.
  • Make sure they can remove their clothes – some people with dementia can struggle with buttons and zips.
  • Look out for signs that they may need to go to the toilet, such as fidgeting and standing up and down.
  • Get adaptations to the toilet if necessary – you may be able to get these through a community care assessment.

Find more information on The Continence Foundation of Australia website or you can call them on 1800 330 066.

Book a support worker through Mable

Many support workers on the Mable platform are experienced in managing incontinence. Find a support worker with experience in dementia care today. You can register for free on Mable. All support workers registered on the platform undergo a rigorous on-boarding process to ensure you are safeguarded.

This article was last updated in June 2022 for relevance.