Dear Carol: I feel like my home is becoming contaminated territory! My Dad is a sweetheart, but he’s got dementia and has developed incontinence. He can really flood a diaper and isn’t great about changing under the best of conditions. I know this isn’t his fault, so I don’t think I let my frustration show, but it’s hard. I don’t mind doing laundry. I don’t mind the constant checking to try to get him to change diapers. I’m grateful that he never resists my efforts, as so many others do. But no matter what I do, there are accidents, and once pee gets into clothing and bedding it’s just so hard to get rid of the smell. Do you have any recommendations about how to handle this? – PA
Dear PA: You sound like a compassionate, loving daughter and your dad sounds like a real gem, so you’re fortunate to have each other.
Incontinence accidents can happen for anyone with this health challenge, but when a person lives with dementia, preventing them is going to be a bigger problem, as you’re experiencing. Since I hear from a lot of caregivers and follow many groups as well, I have gleaned some tips that might help you, so let’s start with those:
- First, of course, are the commercial urine removers. Many people like these and with time, find their favorites. They tend to use enzymes to cut through the smell.
- Tip: Try to get the urine out before the smell is “baked in” from using the dryer. Repeated washings can usually still get out this baked-in smell, but it’s more difficult than if you catch it early.
For a more homebased approach, caregivers have found that they like the following products and procedures:
- Vinegar (never mix it with bleach because the combination causes toxic fumes). Presoaking urine-drenched laundry with a ½ cup or more of vinegar added to the water is said to give excellent results. You can experiment with your own washing machine to find the right amount. Soak in the mixture for an hour or so and then wash as usual.
- Some people say that a good quality dish detergent works well but be careful that there’s no residue because that could irritate the skin. Also, this might be hard on your washer, so check with the manufacturer before doing this.
- Baking soda added to the water is found to be useful by some caregivers.
- Oxygen cleaners added to the laundry come recommended by other caregivers.
- Be cautious when you mix ingredients. Vinegar and soda are used together for many household cleaning projects, but as mentioned above, it’s best not to mix other products with bleach.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of using quality incontinence products. Of course, I’m going to recommend Egosan but whatever brand you choose, make sure it’s the best that you can find. Buying quality will save you work, and in the end it will also save money.
Here are just a couple of quotes from happy Eogsan customers:
“ Not a single leak! I almost never write reviews but I had to this time. My brother needs incontinence wear and this has changed our lives. No leaking and bed changing at night.
“Search is over. Assisted living said that this is exceptional and to keep getting them.”
… John G
The second preventive step is to use underpads for the bed and all favorite chairs. This is especially important when the person with incontinence has dementia because they become unable to assist you knowing when they to change them.
Good luck with this sometimes-daunting situation, PA. We’d love to hear back if you’ve found a solution or combination of solutions that work for you!
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