This weekend as you celebrate Easter, Passover or just a BBQ with family and loved ones, it is the perfect time to broach a subject that we often avoid. We know, it’s awkward, it’s uncomfortable, it’s taboo, it’s the elephant in the room - talking about incontinence is never easy. Yet, if someone you love has it, you’ll have to talk about it sooner or later and there is no better time to do it than when you are present and in the moment. Ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away and can actually make your initial discussion that much harder, as you get more and more antsy about your approach. Just remember, the sooner you say something, the sooner your loved one will be feeling free again.
While it may at first seem like an area you don’t want to venture into, the bright side is that you've got a lot working in your favor — from the fact that adult incontinence is not uncommon, to the likelihood that your loved one is aware of the issue but too embarrassed to mention it without a gentle nudge. Those newly experiencing unexpected leaks may not be aware of the many options to help them carry on with a full and confident life.
If your loved one has been having bladder control accidents, she may be feeling embarrassed, frustrated and/or guilty. After all, no one ever expects it to happen to them. These are completely reasonable emotions. So before you dive into your conversation with mom, consider how she might be feeling. Try to understand her mind-set, be empathetic to help her face her challenges — or at least in having that first one-on-one chat.
Since you're the one bringing up the topic, it's up to you to set the tone of conversation. It's normal to be embarrassed, but if you're feeling awkward, then your loved one is going to respond in a similar way. On the other hand, if you're casual and calm about the facts — as well as the possible solutions — then your optimism will help your loved one feel secure and in control. There are a number of approaches you can take, so choose one that best suits the situation. Here are our three favorite approaches to take:
Be explicit and to the point without making it a big deal. Bring it up in a conversation you're already having so there's no hyping up of the issue. Addressing it as just another, “matter of fact” topic can be incredibly disarming.
Be sincere but concerned and empathetic. You're having this talk because you care. You want mom to gain comfort and get back to doing some of the things she has quit doing in her life because she feels trapped by her condition and you want the best for her.
Make light of the facts of life. Tell her that it’s very likely that this will eventually happen to you too and that you can someday kibitz and compare notes about the experience. While humor certainly isn't for everyone, for some it's an easier way to begin a complex conversation. Sometimes a little laughter can help lighten up life.
So this holiday weekend put a plan in place together with your loved one. If appropriate, start an exercise regiment and diet to help your loved one prevent leaks. Schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider to get the appropriate treatment to alleviate any discomfort that maybe present due to skin irritation. And most importantly, help your loved one make a smart purchase. Order an adequate supply of products for different situations so that your loved one will be protected and comfortable – anywhere and anytime. Help her find services that discreetly deliver personalized incontinence products to her door – every month. Peace of mind, in these circumstances, is one of the greatest gifts you can give.