That’s why the theme of this year’s World Continence Week, which runs from Monday, June 22 to Sunday, June 28, focuses on caregivers.
Caring for a loved one with incontinence can be a difficult choice, fraught with emotions that range from love and satisfaction to resentment, guilt, stress, anger, and exhaustion. Many carers find their own health suffers as a result of having to lift and change their loved ones, or that their own activities are curtailed because they need to be on call to assist.
Aware of these and other challenges, TENA has compiled eight top strategies to help to ease the burden of these heroes of the community:
1. Keep up to date with developments in purpose-made incontinence products, as brands like TENA are constantly looking for ways to make these products more effective for those who have incontinence, as well as practical, cost-effective and easy for caregivers to use. Using the right product can mean fewer changes and less product used.
2. Remember that choosing the right product is important, because there are products – like TENA Flex or TENA Lady Pants that incontinence sufferers can put on themselves. This eases your load, and gives them more control of their life, as well as increased dignity, so it’s a win-win.
3. Ask for help – you don’t have to do everything yourself, and you need some time off to ensure you don’t burn out. Family members could help with basic household chores – you can even draw up a simple roster with a list of tasks. The help doesn’t need to be directly related to the person you’re caring for: it can cover simple tasks like grocery shopping, cleaning the house or mowing the lawn.
4. Remember that there are highs and lows in caring for a loved one with incontinence. Sharing them – good and bad – will help and encourage others in a similar situation, and enable you to retain a sense of balance.
5. The person you are caring for may become frustrated with themselves and take it out on you. If so, remember that it’s not about you at all – they are in a very difficult, very challenging place. Try to direct your anger at their medical condition rather than the human being trying to cope with it.
6. Put your own health first, because you can’t take care of someone else if you’re not in good health yourself. Eat regularly and healthily, take some time to exercise, and get enough sleep.
7. Get in touch with other caregivers, because even if there are no formal support groups, you do need support – and you need it from people who know exactly what you are going through. In addition, you can share ideas and advice from your own experience, and help each other with the practicalities of caregiving.
8. Ask a clinic nurse for help with finding the right product: TENA has trained the sisters in Dis-Chem and PnP Pharmacies to give you the right advice. The cheapest brand may not be the most economical – one caregiver of a stroke patient saved R5 000 a month, because at the outset, their loved one was bedridden and needed a night nurse. With rehab and reassessing the incontinence needs – they have gone to no night nurse and changed from using TENA Slip to TENA Flex.
The full range of TENA products for light and heavy bladder weakness is available at leading retailers. For advice on choosing the right product please call us on 0860 673 377. Visit www.tena.co.za for more information or to order a free sample. You can also buy our products online.
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