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7 Tips For Caring For Your Husband With Incontinence

“My husband first started having leaks in his sixty’s,” says Karen Davis, a social worker who lives in Tucson, Arizona. “He didn’t think I knew, but I saw how he made a beeline to the bathroom when we would get home, how he scouted out every bathroom when we were out, and how he sometimes showed up with a new pair of pants on when we’d just be lounging around the house. I didn’t mention it to him until it got to be something that I just couldn’t ignore. Knowing my husband, I knew he wouldn’t say anything so I finally asked him how I could help. That’s it. Not “What’s going on”, or “Why is this happening” just “How can I help”. Those four words were life changing. I saw the shield he had been putting up for months slowly crumble and he admitted that he had been quietly struggling, too ashamed to tell me what was going on.”

Karen’s story isn’t unique. Many men struggle with incontinence, but feel ashamed to admit it, or too embarrassed to talk about it with anyone, even their doctor. But if you’re a wife to a man with incontinence, there are things you can do to help him with this struggle.

7 WAYS TO CARE FOR YOUR HUSBAND WITH INCONTINENCE

BE EMPATHETIC.

Most people feel embarrassment when they develop incontinence. But for men, the feeling can be intense. Stigmas in our society hold men up to a “tough-guy” standard and it’s hard for them to accept that something like incontinence might affect them. They may not admit it at first, hiding it, like Karen’s husband did, because they are too embarrassed to tell you about it.

Karen’s approach was exactly right. Just offer help and don’t make a big deal out of it. Your husband likely will be glad to eventually open up about the issue and may even find relief by not having to hide it anymore. Showing him that he has your support can be very meaningful.

FIND A GOOD ABSORBENT PRODUCT.

While there may be many treatment options that can help treat incontinence, staying dry is the immediate concern. So experiment a little and find a product that really works.

The most important thing to look for is a product that fits correctly, and that works with his lifestyle. (See more on our guide to form fit and function here.) This may take several different tries, but it’s worth the effort for the confidence that he’ll be protected and dry.

A great place to start is online. Supermarkets are often overwhelming, and may don’t always carry the wide variety of brands that are available at online manufacturers. Plus, most online manufacturers have representatives that can assist you in finding a product that will work best. Best of all, it’s delivered straight to your door, meaning no embarrassing moments in the checkout line at the grocery store.

BE YOUR HUSBAND’S ADVOCATE.

Even if your husband tells you that he has incontinence, he may not want to tell anyone else, including a doctor. Push, as gently as you can, for him to seek treatment from a professional. It’s the best way to tackle incontinence, and is important to do, since incontinence may be a symptom of another condition that should be treated.

If he’s too embarrassed to ask for help, go with him to his appointment and be his voice. Make a list of questions together to ask the doctor and walk through them, one by one, at your appointment. Do research on the condition and treatment options available so that you are armed with the information at the appointment and can ask about treatments that he thinks might be a good fit.

PROTECT YOUR BEDDING AND FURNITURE.

If you’re husband is having a lot of leaks, invest in some waterproof bedding and pads. Placing a waterproof underpad on the bed over the sheets can make clean up easy (you don’t have to change the whole bed!) and keeping a few spare ones to place favorite chairs or couches are good ways to keep everything dry and limit any clean up that might be needed from unexpected leaks.

PROTECT HIS SKIN.

If your husband requires constant use of absorbent products make sure his skin is protected. Advise him to change regularly and keep things clean to avoid any infections.

MAKE SURE PATHWAY IS CLEAR FOR TOILET IF MOVING AROUND IS AN ISSUE.

If your husband has mobility issues and it’s challenging for him to get to a toilet quickly, ensure the path to and from the toilet is clear and easy for him to navigate, especially at night when he may be groggy and it’s harder to see where he’s going.

ALWAYS BE PREPARED.

This may go without saying, but with incontinence, being prepared is half the battle. Make sure he always has extra absorbents when traveling out of the house. Bring along an extra set of clothes just in case. Know where your bathroom stops are if you’re going on a road trip. Everything you can do to prepare will help make things more comfortable for him in the long run and will avoid any real embarrassment should an accident occur.

Do you have experience caring for an incontinent loved one? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

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