What to do when a relative develops incontinence?

As we age our bodies can’t do what they used to do when we were younger, and in the same way we may need glasses, our urinary system can also be affected.

This can result in someone losing control of their bladder and bowels, which is known as incontinence. While there are many reasons this can happen, knowing what to do when someone develops incontinence is highly important, not just for you, but for them as well.

What are the issues?

If someone close to you, or someone you care for develops incontinence, you must remember not to panic. This is something millions of people live with.

However, dealing with incontinence can take just as much toll on a caregiver as it can on a care receiver, and you may encounter the following issues:


Resistance from the person you’re helping as they may be in denial about being incontinent, or feel as though they can no longer care for themselves

Embarrassment for both yourself and the person needing care, especially if they’re a parent or relative

Reactions, it’s important to keep these under control, as dealing with incontinence can become very stressful for yourself at times

Emotions can run high, both for you and the person you’re caring for, and keeping these under control can, at times, be difficult

Physical limitations can be an issue, especially if your body type doesn’t match up with that of the person you’re caring for

Planning is really important, not just when the person is at home, but if you plan any trips, you’ll need to ensure you have everything you need at all times

Time and resources are something that will be hugely affected due to the additional time to care for someone living with incontinence, alongside the cost of ensuring incontinence products are always to hand


Although you may not be affected by all of these issues, chances are, several will impact you at some point. But, knowing how to deal with them in a loving and caring manner will help to ease the situations when they arise.

Dealing with the issues

Below, we’ve outlined ways to help you deal with the above issues when they occur.


If someone close to you is in denial or upset about living with incontinence, the best way to approach it is in a calm, understanding and honest way. You’ll be able to explain how not tackling it could affect them in other ways, such as their health, and how it may be affecting the care you provide, which is why items such as incontinence pads need to be used. This frank and honest talk could help to make acceptance easier.


If you feel embarrassed, talk it out with friends and family members, and see what they have to say. You can even talk it out with the person in question, who may be feeling the same way. You can also talk to a professional who could recommend someone who could help you out with certain situations.


If you’re feeling stressed and out of your depth with certain situations, admitting it to yourself is the first step. Keeping it bottled up won’t help and could make matters worse for both yourself and the person you’re caring for, who’ll probably be struggling too. You can seek out help from support groups online, as there’ll be others feeling the same way as you are, or an experienced worker or family member who may be able to help, or suggest, a professional to relieve you of some of your duties.


Sometimes, accidents will happen at the least convenient of times, but, it’s important to remember it isn’t done on purpose. Talking to friends, family members, professionals and those in your situation will help. They’ll also be able to provide product suggestions such as an incontinence pad for night times, as accidents in the night can be more stressful. You may be able to find someone to help out, whether they’re a friend, family member or professional. All this will go to helping relieve you of some duties and stresses, bringing everyone’s emotions down.

Physical limitations

If you’re caring for someone living with incontinence and a physical disability, helping them around the home isn’t always practical, as you could injure yourself. In this case, it’s important to talk to physicians and professionals to learn how to help the person up and down, but, if it could be harmful to you, you should seek home help from someone else you know or a professional.


While the person’s home will always be stocked with incontinence products, it’s important to make sure you have everything you need when they’re not at home. From day trips to holidays, make sure you have a bag with incontinence pads and bags to put them in with you at all times, you can even keep spares in your car to be extra safe. Meanwhile, holidays could call for an incontinence pad or two for beds, while spare clothes should always be brought along too.

Time and resources

If you’re finding it difficult to manage, speak to a professional. Not only will they be able to suggest additional help, but where to find the correct incontinence pads for your loved one’s specific needs. Also, call on family members and friends, as it’s important to remember you can’t do it all, and if you’re exhausted, it could be detrimental to you and the person you’re helping.

If you need any help or advice when it comes to helping someone living with incontinence, you can contact us Monday – Friday between 9 am and 5 pm on 01204 895410.