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Incontinence and dementia

Incontinence can be very upsetting for the person you care for. It can also be difficult for you to deal with. But it's important to be understanding, keep a sense of humour and remember that it's not their fault.

If the person you care for becomes incontinent, it’s important for them to see their doctor. Incontinence can be due to a treatable medical cause, such as a urinary tract infection, or it may indicate a more serious cause such as prostatic disease.

A person with dementia may also simply forget to go to the toilet or they may forget where the toilet is. They may have lost the ability to tell when they need the toilet.

There are many ways to help with managing incontinence in a person with dementia. You could try;

  • putting a clear sign on the toilet door, such as a photo of the toilet
  • keeping the toilet door open and making sure that the person you care for can access it easily
  • making sure they can remove their clothes – some people with dementia can struggle with buttons and zips so you can simplify their clothing with Velcro or elastic waistbands
  • looking out for signs that they may need to go to the toilet, such as fidgeting and standing up and down
  • installing some bathroom aids such as a raised toilet seat and wall-grab bars to help them get on and off the toilet
  • helping the person decide about using continence products.

Last reviewed: November 2016

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