Incontinence in Nursing Homes
According to recent statistics, more than 50 percent of all nursing home residents suffer from urinary and/or fecal incontinence. Incontinence, defined as the loss of bladder or bowel control, in elderly nursing home patients is often due to psychological conditions, physical conditions or medications. It is up to the nursing home staff to ensure that every patient suffering from incontinence receives proper management and treatment to avoid further complications.
Common Complications Caused by Incontinence
Most patients who suffer from incontinence also suffer from dementia or are immobile. These conditions all lead to these patients’ full reliance on trained medical staff to manage the incontinence. When not managed well, incontinence can lead to several injuries and illnesses:
- Falls: Older adults with incontinence are often frail, which puts them at high risk for falls and fall-related injuries.
- Skin breakdown: These residents often require diapers to stay dry. However, when the staff does not change the diapers often enough, the residents’ skin will breakdown, leading to pressure sores and infection.
- Urinary tract infections: A common side effect of incontinence is a urinary tract infection (UTI). These infections are avoidable through constant monitoring and toileting assistance.
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Incontinence Management and the Problem of Poor Staffing
To stay dry, residents with incontinence require toileting assistance at least three or four times within any given 12-hour period. Additionally, staff must be available to constantly check in on the patients often, asking if the patients are wet and if they need to use the toilet. All of this means that the nursing home must employ enough staff at all times to handle these basic duties. Unfortunately, understaffing is a great concern at most nursing homes in Illinois, which means most patients with incontinence do not get the ongoing care they require to stay clean, dry and healthy.
How You Can Help Your Loved One
If your loved one suffers from incontinence, make sure you speak to his or her care providers on a continual basis. Ask to see records that show how and when toileting assistance, such as diaper changes or prompted voiding, occurred. Also ask your loved one specific questions about the care he or she receives. Ask these questions even if your loved one suffers from dementia or other psychological impairment, as studies show that even residents with cognitive impairments can answer such questions accurately.
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