Family Guide to incontinence
Incontinence is an extremely common condition, affecting more than 200 million people worldwide. In some form or another, it is estimated that urinary incontinence affects around 13% of British women and approximately 5% of men, whilst faecal incontinence may affect an additional 2% or more of the population.
Despite its enormous prevalence, it is a condition that is very much under-reported, primarily because it can be associated with feelings of embarrassment and social unacceptability. But whilst such feelings might be understandable, the unspoken nature of the condition can be very harmful because it supports the myth that incontinence is a rare problem that only ever affects 'other people.'
As a company that works with care products every day, we know that incontinence aids are always amongst the sector's most frequently demanded products so please be assured that if you or a family member are suffering from this condition, you are certainly not unusual or alone.
Incontinence can arise from a wide variety of causes, ranging from paralysis to the effects of childbirth or medication, and as a result it can affect anyone and at any age. The very young and the elderly might require support from a family member, although many adults will opt to manage the condition themselves. In either case, there are numerous products, exercises and techniques that can help to make life easier and more dignified for all concerned.
It is important to remember that incontinence is not in itself a disease but a symptom of one or more underlying problems. It is certainly not an inevitable part of ageing. It can often be cured and, even when it cannot, the use of appropriate aids and treatment means that it can always be managed very effectively.
Making life easier
The purpose of this Family Guide is not to explain all the possible causes and treatments of incontinence, although the final section does list many useful websites that provide exactly this kind of information and more. Instead, this leaflet sets out to give individuals and family carers a better understanding of the options that are available to them when dealing with the condition on a day to day basis.
If you are concerned that you or someone you care about may be suffering from any form of incontinence then the first and most important step is to seek professional medical advice. As noted earlier, all forms of incontinence are a sign of some other condition and by acting quickly, you give yourself the best possible chance of a swift and positive outcome.
It is also very important to be aware of the kind of incontinence with which you are dealing as this will determine the sorts of precautions, treatments and care products that will be most value to you.
Juvenile night time incontinence, for example, can be aided by a variety of treatments and by automatic bed sensors that sound audible alerts that help train the user to develop greater awareness and control. For women, childbirth can lead to a very common cause of urinary stress incontinence so to help address the problem, manufacturers have developed a range of easy to use devices that can help restore control and strength in the pelvic floor.
Similar products are available to help reduce faecal incontinence, to protect bedding and to maintain high standards of hygiene in the home. In short, families can rely on a wide array of sources of information and effective care products that enable their loved ones to live their daily lives comfortably and with both independence and dignity.
The practical challenges associated with urinary and faecal incontinence are varied but some of the issues that are most commonly encountered are listed below, together with some suggestions for care aids that can help you to manage them.
Juvenile bedwetting and bladder training
Bedwetting is a common problem amongst young children but there are several useful products that will not only alert the child and his or her carers when it starts to occur, but will also help the child to develop greater bladder awareness and control. Examples include enuresis alarms and incontinence monitoring systems.
Muscle control aids
Where faecal or urinary incontinence is the result of reduced muscle control - which may occur as a result of factors such as surgery, childbirth or injury - individuals can do great deal to regain control and muscle tone using a variety of pelvic exercisers and muscle stimulation aids.
Bedding and furniture protection
One of the most obvious problems associated with any form of incontinence is the risk of soiling beds, chairs and other items of furniture. Consequently, manufacturers have produced a wide variety of products ranging from simple disposable bed pads to waterproof bedding and seat pads.
Protective pads and clothing
A common concern amongst people suffering from incontinence is the necessity to protect their clothes against accidents whilst also preserving their sense of personal dignity and independence. Fortunately, modern continence aids - which include conventional absorbent pads, stretch pants and ergonomically shaped pads - are extremely discreet, inconspicuous and effective.
Toileting and access
For some people, the principal challenge associated with incontinence is simply a matter of getting to a toilet in time. In certain cases, this may be due to a medical condition that allows the person very little warning of the need to use the toilet but other people may have mobility problems that mean it just takes longer to find a suitable WC. Family carers might therefore like to consider products such as radar keys, which enable access to a national network of disabled toilets or portable urinals that can be used in an emergency, such as when travelling.
Personal hygiene is an especially important concern for individuals or carers who have to deal with any form of incontinence. For such people, designers have produced an array of items such as disposable gloves, hypoallergenic skin wipes, body cleansing foams and surface sanitising sprays that keep the living environment clean and safe.
Incontinence and VAT exemption:
When someone is buying a product for a person (including themselves) who has a disability, a severe physical impairment or a chronic illness, they are not required to pay VAT on it provided that the item in question is purposely designed as act as an aid to disability or injury. More details can be found on our website.