fishYesterday’s newletter featured an article titled “A Wee Bit About Incontinence”. When I mentioned that on Twitter, I received an e-mail regarding a press-release about a study that was done among caregivers on the problem of incontinence.  The results were so interesting that I wanted to share them with you.

Below, I have posted the article in its entirety; it is somewhat long but the information is great.

Incontinence – the Emotional and Physical Challenges People Caring for Aging Loved Ones Aren’t Talking About

New Survey from Caring.com and SCA, the Makers of TENA®, Reveals Adult Incontinence Adds Stress, Can Lead to Depression

SAN MATEO, CA and PHILADELPHIA, PA, November 5, 2009—Incontinence in a parent, grandparent or spouse has a significant emotional impact on a caregiver’s life, according to a survey released today by Caring.com and SCA, the makers of TENA® (www.tena.us). The survey reveals that while seventy percent report incontinence as an ongoing issue with their loved ones, caregivers are largely uncertain how to help make the situation better, or even talk about it. In fact, one in three prefer to avoid the conversation altogether.

The research from Caring.com, a leading online destination for people caring for aging relatives, and TENA®, the worldwide leader in the management of bladder protection, found incontinence to be a widespread issue among adults caring for aging loved ones. More than 25 million adults are affected by incontinence in the United States today, a number that is projected to increase as the baby boomer population ages.

“Sixty-five percent of Caring.com members are dealing with incontinence in a parent, grandparent or spouse. It’s a sensitive subject for both the caregiver and the person they’re caring for, ranking among the most difficult conversations people caring for aging parents are faced with, such as taking away the car keys and discussing finances,” said Andy Cohen, co-founder and CEO, Caring.com. “Caring.com can help make discussions about adult incontinence less stressful by knowing what not to say and providing supportive alternatives on how to talk to your loved one.”

Managing a Loved One’s Incontinence Takes an Emotional Toll

There is unexpected stress associated with incontinence issues and often the emotional aspect is just as hard as, or sometimes worse than, the physical aspects of caring for a loved one. The study found that incontinence can have a negative effect on a caregiver’s emotional wellbeing and influence home care and nursing home decisions:
42% report dealing with their loved one’s incontinence sometimes leads to depression;
32% find it emotionally difficult to change their loved one’s incontinence products;
27% report incontinence has a negative impact on the relationship they have with their loved one;
31% are unable to go on vacation because of their loved one’s incontinence issues; and
18% have considered moving, or have moved their parent to a care facility or nursing home because of incontinence.

Caregivers Try to Manage the Symptoms, but for Most It’s Not Working

People caring for aging relatives have tried a variety of techniques to try to manage the physical aspects of their loved one’s incontinence:
33% have made changes to their loved ones schedule;
24% have tried medications; and
23% have made dietary changes.

Despite trying different approaches to manage incontinence, three-quarters of survey respondents report their efforts aren’t working, reporting an increase in the amount of laundry they have to do each week, with an estimated extra two to three loads.

Starting the Conversation

“We know that understanding and discussing incontinence can be the first step to successfully managing it,” said Spencer Deane, vice president of marketing for SCA Personal Care in North America. “We applaud caregivers for trying different approaches to manage the symptoms, but over the years we’ve seen the best results when caregivers are able to talk openly about the condition and recommend the right solutions to manage it. Today there is a variety of care techniques and treatments, as well as absorbent and skin care products for all types of incontinence, which can dramatically improve the quality of life.”

Understanding how to discuss incontinence in a way that is supportive to both the person being cared for and the role of the caregiver is important.

“Incontinence often can be frustrating and overwhelming for a person caring for an aging parent or loved one, but there are steps caregivers can take to meet this challenge,” said Ann Cason, caregiving expert author and founder and director of Circles of Care. “These include considering all available treatment options, discussing incontinence in a straightforward and factual way, and asking for physical or emotional support if you need it.”

The Caring.com /TENA® Survey on Incontinence was conducted September 14 through September 28 by Caring.com. More than 560 respondents completed the online survey. Survey results and demographics are available upon request.


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