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Dear Miriam,

This is kind of embarrassing. My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s several years ago, and all things considered, he’s fairly healthy. But lately, he’s started to soil himself. And the worst part is, he tries to hide it! We got him adult diapers, but sometimes, he walks around with a full diaper and doesn’t say anything. What can I do before it gets worse?

Kym

Dear Kym,

Don’t be embarrassed! Incontinence is a common symptom of many dementias and I’m sure others are struggling with similar challenges. So, thanks for asking your question.

People with dementia may no longer be able to recognize the body’s signals for many basic things, such as hunger, thirst, and the need to use the bathroom.  Your father may try to cover it up to avoid shame or embarrassment., Because of the nature of the disease you’ll have to remind and nudge him.  Here are some things that can help:

  • Remind him to use the restroom.  “Dad, I’m taking the kids to the bathroom.  Why don’t you come with us?”
  • Instead of waiting for him to tell you his diaper is full, set times throughout the day where you check.
  • If he does soil himself, don’t make a big deal out of it.  It’s part of his disease and not something he can control.

Best,
Miriam

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