5 Incontinence Facts for Wheelchair Users
Incontinence is a challenging condition for anyone to manage, but especially so for wheelchair users. If a wheelchair user needs support to use the toilet, help is not always available promptly. When wheelchair users are out and about in the community, the location and accessibility of toilets can be an issue. Combine these issues with incontinence and difficult-to-change adult diapers or external Convene catheters, and accidents are bound to happen.
Because of these difficulties, many wheelchair users and their caregivers simply accept that they have to manage the situation with less-than-desirable incontinence products for men. This means they are forced to stay home unless necessary, restrict fluids when outside the home, and use pads for men that leave them feeling embarrassed and vulnerable.
Many different diseases and disabilities require wheelchair use. Essentially, anything that causes mobility impairment may require a person to use a wheelchair. Some of the most common reasons for needing a wheelchair include:
- Spinal cord injury (quadriplegic, paraplegic)
- Cerebral palsy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Alzheimer’s dementia
- Parkinson’s disease
- Muscular dystrophies
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Spina bifida
According to the World Health Organization, roughly 10% of the world’s population has disability, and of those, 10% require assistive mobility technologies like wheelchairs. So, there’s a considerable number of people who are wheelchair users and face the challenges this poses.
Urinary incontinence can have a severe impact on a person’s quality of life, especially in wheelchair users. But this doesn’t have to be the case. Incontinence can be successfully managed for wheelchair users with intuitively designed incontinence products for men that allow them to lead active, fulfilling lives. Here are 5 incontinence facts that wheelchair users and their caregivers should know.
There’s More Than One Type of Urinary Incontinence
When a person has urinary incontinence, they lose control of their bladder and leak urine. It’s a common and embarrassing condition, affecting millions of people globally. Most folks can manage urinary incontinence with lifestyle modifications and treatments. However, in wheelchair users, incontinence poses additional challenges. For example, a wheelchair user not only needs access to a toilet but access to one with adequate facilities to support wheelchairs and changing out adult diapers.
To effectively manage incontinence, it helps to understand the condition. There are two main types of urinary incontinence:
- Urge incontinence consists of a sudden need to urinate. It occurs because the muscles around the urinary bladder contract without warning. People with this type of incontinence typically don’t make it to the toilet in time. Urge incontinence can be hard for wheelchair users to manage because they need additional time and support when using the toilet.
- Stress incontinence consists of urine leakage during sneezing, coughing, laughing, lifting, or exercising. It occurs when the muscles surrounding the urinary bladder and urethra become weak, leading to urine leakage when the bladder is under pressure. Without protective continence products, stress incontinence can lead to embarrassing accidents for wheelchair users.
Incontinence Can Be Successfully Managed
Besides using easy-application pads for men or Convene catheters, there are several things wheelchair users and their caregivers can do to effectively manage both kinds of incontinence. Experts recommend the following tips:
Schedule trips to the toilet. Wheelchair users are less likely to have incontinence accidents when they empty their bladder every 2-3 hours on schedule, whether they feel like using the toilet or not.
Keep a bladder journal. Tracking bladder activity and urine voiding helps wheelchair users and their caregivers better understand their routine, environment, and toileting needs. This puts them in a better position to control incontinence.
Strengthen the pelvic muscles. Pelvic muscle exercises (also called Kegel exercises) help to strengthen the muscles that prevent urine leakage. By performing these exercises regularly, wheelchair users can develop the ability to hold urine in the bladder for longer periods.
Make lifestyle changes. Drinking less caffeine, avoiding alcohol, losing weight, and quitting smoking can all help with incontinence management. Caffeine, alcohol, and cigarette smoke are bladder irritants that cause increased urination. The coughing caused by smoking puts enormous pressure on the pelvic muscles, weakening them and leading to stress urinary incontinence.
You Shouldn’t Restrict Fluids to Manage Incontinence
For many wheelchair users and their caregivers, the first instinct is to completely restrict or significantly reduce fluid intake to manage the incontinence. This is especially true when they’re outside the “safe environment” of home where it can be difficult to change out cumbersome pads for men. However, fluid restriction in incontinent wheelchair users can be counterproductive. Besides the considerable risk of dehydration, limiting fluids leads to the production of highly concentrated urine. This can worsen urge incontinence by irritating the bladder. Also, dehydration can lead to constipation, which affects the pelvic floor muscles. Moreover, a full bowel due to constipation can press upon the bladder, leading to an urge to pass urine urgently.
A better approach is to limit caffeine-containing beverages like coffee, tea, colas, and hot chocolate. Acidic juices and citrus fruit drinks are also known to worsen bladder irritation and urge symptoms. It’s best to stick to plain water in moderate quantities (4-8 eight-ounce glasses a day). Drinking a few sips at a time is less overwhelming for the bladder than drinking one or two glasses at one go.
You Don’t Have to Stay Home with Incontinence
Spending time outdoors, meeting friends, going to the cinema… these are just some of the activities wheelchair users love. But when a wheelchair user has incontinence, they can be very reluctant to step out of the safety of home. Bulky and inconvenient adult diapers don’t inspire confidence. The fear of an accident in public can be paralyzing. But this doesn’t have to be the case. There are several practical solutions to manage toileting and avoid accidents when you’re out and about.
Plan ahead: Locate the nearest restroom when you arrive someplace indoors, so you know where to go in case of an emergency.
Use technology: There are phone apps that show the locations of restrooms around the world, including parks and beaches.
Go before you go: Emptying your bladder just before leaving home can help cut down on the need to use public restrooms.
Drink sensibly: Take small sips of water when out and about to avoid a strong urge to urinate or urine leakage.
Be properly equipped: There are incontinence products for men that can make your life easier and make urine leakage less bothersome.
A Male Incontinence Wrap Could Be the Solution You’ve Been Looking For
QuickChange is a continence product that’s been specially developed for men who are wheelchair users. It is a US-made penile disposable absorbent wrap that’s suitable for men of all ages. QuickChange has proven benefits in preventing skin issues due to irritation from urine running down the thighs and buttocks. It takes 60 seconds to swap out a QuickChange adult diaper regardless of the patient’s size or weight. What’s more, QuickChange pads for men can be applied from the top down. Meaning the diaper is wrapped around the shaft of the penis and doesn’t go underneath the buttocks. As a result, you don’t have to lift or roll the wheelchair user to completely take the diaper off. The “top-down” design, therefore, allows wheelchair users to change themselves while seated without the need to transfer out of the wheelchair.
QuickChange allows men with incontinence who are wheelchair users to go about their life without restrictions. This is an incontinence product for men that can improve your quality of life by leaps and bounds. There’s no need to stop or reduce fluid intake, change your routine, or worry about a change in the environment. Not to mention the immense psychological benefits of getting a bit of privacy and dignity back.