Challenging Behaviors for the Caregiver

By Elisabeth A Hinman-Smith M.S.W. & Lisa P. Gwyther M.S.W.

"I know he feels bad when he soils his clothes. . .and so do I. It's hard not to get upset when it happens, especially at night when I need to change the bed."

* React to episodes of incontinence with calm understanding. Scolding will only make the person more upset and lower the person's self- esteem.

* Check with your physician to be sure the incontinence is caused by the progressing dementia, and not another underlying medical problem.

* Keep track of when the accidents occur. . .could they be avoided by a nightlight in the bathroom? Establish a routine of taking the person to the bathroom based on when accidents usually occur.

* Limit caffeine intake, especially before bedtime. Do make sure the person gets plenty of fluids during the day, but try limiting them just before bedtime.

* Continue to maintain balanced nutrition and exercise - this may help bowel incontinence.

* Try products designed for adult incontinence. Examples include adult diapers or rubber pants, rubber sheets, or home health equipment such as elevated toilet seats and grab bars.

* If necessary, remove wastebaskets and/or flower pots. (these may be mistaken for toilets). Keep bathroom doors open to provide the person with extra visual cues.

* Watch for non-verbal cues like restlessness, pacing, undressing or grabbing of the genital area.

(c) copyright 1996

Alzheimer's Outreach

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