Caring for someone with bladder weakness or urinary incontinence has its difficult moments; incontinence can be unpredictable and challenging, add to your workload and there can be some stigma attached to it. However, we at iD believe that there should be no shame in bladder issues and we want to help everyone live life in full view. With that in mind, here are our four suggestions for activities to actively involve patients in caring for their incontinence.
One of the most important things you can do is to make sure you treat your loved one or patient with respect and sensitivity. You can do this by making incontinence care as natural as possible, being compassionate and acknowledging their discomfort and concerns. You can learn more about sensitively providing incontinence care at home here. It is also helpful to actively engage the person you are caring for in their own incontinence care, by suggesting methods through which they can take part in alleviating their symptoms. From looking after their overall health to incontinence exercises, there are lots of ways that you involve your patient or loved one to take part in treating their symptoms.
Maintain general health
While it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle in general, some unhealthy practices can contribute to poor bladder health. Smoking can exacerbate symptoms, as coughing (caused by smoking) can put strain on your bladder. Furthermore, carrying excess weight can weaken your pelvic floor, because of the pressure of fatty tissue on the bladder.1
In addition, proper nutrition and avoiding bladder-unfriendly foods and drinks such as caffeine, spicy and acidic foods can help prevent leaks. You could try showing your loved one or patient this blog on food tips and recipe ideas for bladder-friendly foods to get them involved in tailoring a diet for their needs.
Directly involve patients with bladder training
Bladder training or bladder retraining is one of the best weak bladder exercises for the patient to take control of their urinary incontinence. It is suitable for people experiencing any of the four types of urinary incontinence, though we would recommend doing it under the supervision of a doctor. Some bladder training techniques you can try are keeping a diary, delaying urination, scheduling toilet visits, pelvic floor exercises and choosing the right exercise.
Keep a bladder diary
Firstly, you should ask the person you’re caring for to keep a bladder diary to fully understand their symptoms. They should note down how frequently they go to the toilet, when they have an urge to go and when any leaks happen.2 You can download an example of a bladder diary here.
Delaying urination and scheduling toilet visits
Then there are two main bladder training techniques they can try: delaying urination and scheduling toilet visits.
- When at home, you can try to encourage the person you are caring for to delay urination; instruct your loved one or patient to delay going to the toilet for few
- For scheduling toilet visits, ask the patient to determine how often they use the toilet. Then ask them to add 15 minutes onto that time. So, if they go to the toilet every hour, ask them to hold off and go to the toilet after an hour and 15 minutes. Tell them that they should go even if they don’t feel the urge to. Once they get used to this, get them to gradually increase the time between toilet visits.4
Before trying the above exercises, we recommend you talk to your doctor for guidance.
Involve patients with pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegels, are also an effect strategy for improving bladder weakness symptoms. 5 They are very simple and your loved one can practice them at home. Firstly, the patient needs to identify their pelvic floor muscles. They can do so by sitting with their back straight or lying down. Then they need to imagine they are urinating and wish to stop the flow by squeezing the muscles in their lower abdomen. They should continue to breathe normally and not pull their tummy in or squeeze their buttocks. Once they have identified the muscles, they can practice the following:
- Empty the bladder first
- Squeeze the pelvic floor muscles
- Hold for 10 seconds
- Release and relax for 10 seconds
- Repeat up to 30 times.
If they perform this simple routine up to three times a day, they should notice a reduction in their symptoms. You can learn more about Kegel exercises here.
Swap high-impact for strengthening exercise
Our final tip is to encourage your loved one or patient to remain active, whilst choosing forms of exercise that actually help improve bladder health. High-impact forms of exercise, such as running or weight training, can actually worsen the symptoms of bladder weakness and should be avoided. Instead, advise the person you’re taking care of to take part in strengthening exercises, such as Pilates and yoga, which can actually strengthen the pelvic floor.6
If you care for someone with urinary incontinence, then iD is here to help. We offer a range of discreet, sanitary and comfortable products. You can shop the full range here.
1 “10 ways to stop leaks”, NHS, 7 November 2019, Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-incontinence/10-ways-to-stop-leaks/
2 “Training your bladder”, Harvard Health Publishing, n.d., Source: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/training-your-bladder
4 “Bladder Training”, Web MD, 4 June 2019, Source: https://www.webmd.com/urinary-incontinence-oab/bladder-training-techniques
5 “Kegel Exercises for Urinary Incontinence”, Dennis Thompson Jr, 14 September 2015, Source: https://www.everydayhealth.com/incontinence/kegel-exercises-for-urinary-incontinence.aspx
6 “10 ways to stop leaks”, NHS, 7 November 2019, Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-incontinence/10-ways-to-stop-leaks/