Did you get some REST over the weekend? I hope you did, cuz Monday isn’t comin’ it is here. Which means, if you are in the sandwich generation, it’s time to deal with school, extra curricular activities and caregiving. If you are not in the sandwich, you are back to the workweek and still have lots to do.
I thought we’d spend the first part of this week talking about an uncomfortable, but almost inevetible part of Alzheimer’s caregiving. Incontinence.
Incontinence is the inability of a person to voluntarily control his or her bladder and or bowel functions. Usually, it doesn’t happen all at once, it takes place over a period of time. Often bladder function fades first, followed by a decrease or disappearance of bowel control. Maybe, granny’s urges are strong and when she says she has to go, she means she has to go NOW. It could be that grandpa “leaks” a little and starts to have a slight (or not so slight) odor; or it could be that mom, who has become completely incontinent, has little to no control of her urinary and or bowel functions.
Fact: People with Alzhiemer’s disease will eventually become incontinent. The disease impacts brain function. It is important to note that incontinence is NOT forgetting where the bathroom is or forgetting the steps required to locate and properly use the bathroom. Incontinence in the person affected with Alzheimer’s disease is about the brain not working. I mentioned in a earlier post that my mom and my son passed each other on the developmental spectrum. He was growing and she was regressing. As the brain loses function, they become like babies in almost every sense. Incontinence is part of what I call the “going back” syndrome.
Okay, let me just say it straight. Urine is urine and poop is poop. It’s not nuclear waste. It’s not toxic waste and it won’t kill you! As a matter of fact, everyone poops!
We’ll get to the details of handling this issue later in the week, but for now, I need you to just understand that like your toddler teething, teenager driving and the IRS looking to hear from you on April 15, incontinence is coming. So stay tuned and we’ll talk about what to do about it, how to handle the embarrassment associated with it, and some products and medications to make it more manageable.
Believe me, if your loved one is NOT excreting then you have a much bigger issue to worry about. So let’s navigate these murky (no pun intended) waters together as we explore the best ways to handle that which is inevitable for those of us who find ourselves in the honored position of Alzheimer’s caregivers.