Bed Wetting may be a common issue in the elderly and some may see it as just a consequence of age. “Granny getting old, that is part of life” may be a common proclaim. However, bed-wetting does not have to be a “consequence” of age once we mitigate the chances of night wetting.
Why would you want to reduce the chances of bed-wetting? There are a few reasons.
- It may make your elderly relative feel uncomfortable. It’s not nice waking up in a pool of urine – the fluid becomes cool under the body with the transfer of heat from their body and it feels very uncomfortable – especially first thing in the morning, its not a nice way to start your day.
- They may feel embarrassed about it. Many elderly persons do not like to “make work” for their caregivers, and they may feel guilty for wetting the bed and being a burden on the person who cares for them.
- The urine may irritate their skin and cause rash, especially if the bed-wetting isn’t noticed until many hours after and it is left on your elderly relative’s skin.
- Increased laundry needs – frequent bed-wetting would lead to increased laundry of bed linen and increase the caregiver’s workload and use of detergent.
- Odors may become trapped in the mattress and decrease the life span of the mattress. A mattress can be expensive, especially if you recently bought one.
- Lying in a pool of urine increases your elderly loved one’s risk to bladder infection.
Please note that bed-wetting may be associated with a disease or psychological issue so consult your doctor.
Now that we have looked at the negative effects that bed-wetting may have on your loved one and yourself, let us look at the ways to prevent or reduce the chances of bed-wetting.
Limit Liquids Before Bed Time
It may take approximately 20 minutes for the body to convert water into urine. If you limit the intake of fluids at least two (2) hours before bedtime, there will be a better chance that your elderly loved one’s bladder can retain the residual fluid in the bladder throughout the night. Reducing the need to use the washroom is a good way to reduce the chance of bed-wetting.
When the environment is cold, we tend to need bathroom privileges more frequently as the body is using less fluid for other activities such as sweating. You do not sweat in the cold; as such, more fluid is used to make urine.
What we tend to forget is that the elderly may feel colder at higher temperatures compared to us because their skin is thinner and has less adipose tissue due to the aging factor. So ask them if the environment is chilly and provide an extra blanket where necessary.
Avoid giving your loved one diuretics before bedtime, unless prescribed by a doctor. Diuretics are things that cause the increased passing of urine. Examples of liquid diuretics are alcohol, coffee, and green or black tea. Some medications may have alcohol in them or items such as bitters have alcohol in them. If the doctor did prescribe a diuretic at bedtime, then give all medication as prescribed.
Keep Urine Vessels at Bedside
At times, your elderly loved one may wet the bed because they did not get up in time to make it to the washroom. Having a commode or urinal close to the bed makes it easier to relieve themselves if they are unable to hold it for the journey to the washroom. Make sure and clean the vessel daily so they will feel comfortable using them.
Reduce Exertion before Bedtime
Avoid any exerting activity just before bed. It may be that your elderly relative was engaged in a very draining activity just before bed and as such, when they woke up during the night, they still felt exhausted and were too weak to make it to the washroom. Wind down just before bed with a relaxing conversation or peaceful moment so they can go to bed vitalized.
Use Washroom Before Bedtime
At times, the elderly may not know when they want to use the washroom, especially those that may have some form of dementia. Offer bathroom privileges before bedtime even if they said they do not want to go. They may surprise themselves when they do use the washroom and may need to use it more than they thought.
Easy Access to Washroom
If your elderly relative thinks it is too much of a bother to reach the bathroom, they may not attempt to do so. They may also underestimate their ability to withhold the urine and as such wet the bed. Make sure the area to the bathroom is well lit, keep the walkway free from clutter, and ensure the bathroom door is either open or it is easy to access. This way, they can independently use the washroom without disturbing anyone and feel accomplished while doing it.
They May Have Incontinence
Some elderly persons, despite all efforts, may just have incontinence- a lack of voluntary control over urination. As such, you may need to put on a diaper for them during the night.
It is noteworthy that you should try the other efforts before just resorting to wearing a diaper because you want your relative to retain as much independence as possible. Think about their feelings and how it will affect their self-esteem to just put them in a diaper. Have a discussion with your elderly loved one about this decision and allow them to try the other efforts first if they so desire. If all else fails, then use diapers for their bedwetting episodes
During the day, you can help them maintain the health of their pelvic muscles by doing Kegel exercises. To mimic these exercises, when they go to the washroom, tell them to:
Pee slowly and count to 5,
Then hold their pee for a count of 5,
Then release slowly and pee for a count of 5
Repeat until finished urinating.
This may help strengthen the pelvic muscles and may reduce the effects of incontinence.
These are just some ways to reduce bedwetting in the elderly. Bedwetting may also be associated with some diseases or psychological issues. If the problem persists, please consult a doctor.
Thank you very much for your time and we hope this information served you well. Feel free to share with someone who may need these tips. Look out for more tips on elderly care and make sure to check out the other blogs posted earlier!
Photo by Becca Schultz on Unsplash