By Karen Henderson
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to see my father
become incontinent. As hard as it was for me, I admired even
more his dignity in dealing with it.
I was never sure what caused the incontinence to begin.
Dad had prostate cancer for many years. Although his urologist
said this cancer would never kill my father, I suspected the
surgery for it hastened the onset of his incontinence. His
dementia completed the process.
While my father was still at home, the problem was manageable
through frequent toileting and the occasional diaper for trips.
When he moved to the long term care facility where he died,
we tried a continence retraining program which seemed to help
for a while. But his incontinence progressed as his dementia
did; and he became incontinent of both bladder and bowel.
How did I cope? I guess I was been lucky; it was never
a problem for me to assist in changing his diaper. But then
I never had to do it alone. I always made sure he was
covered with a sheet when changed as he used to be very sensitive
about being naked. When he was more cognizant I turned away
as he was being changed to respect his privacy.
Dealing with incontinence day after day, year after year can
be overwhelming. Some caregivers can handle it; others cannot.
I have learned from full time family caregivers that it often
was the onset of incontinence that ultimately led to placement
in care. If you are feeling like you cannot take it any more,
seek help. Please consider placement; turning over your loved
one to full time care by others can give you a precious gift:
the time to really love, instead of worrying. Think about