Dementia symptoms can affect different people differently, which is why it’s important to recognise all the ones that can occur. The condition, which affects the brain, can trigger memory loss, thinking speed, mental sharpness and understanding, but it can also impact a person’s movement. As a result, incontinence and toilet problems can occur.
According to Alzheimer’s Society, a person with dementia is more likely to have accidents, problems with the toilet or incontinence than a person of the same age who doesn’t have dementia.”
The research charity lists the reasons for this:
- Not being able to react quickly enough to the sensation of needing to use the toilet
- Failing to get to the toilet in time – for example, because of mobility problems
- Not being able to tell someone that they need to go to the toilet because of problems communicating
- Not being able to find, recognise, or use the toilet. If someone becomes confused about their surroundings, they may urinate in an inappropriate place (such as a wastepaper basket) because they have mistaken it for a toilet
Other reasons toilet problems or incontinence may occur include:
- Not understanding a prompt from someone to use the toilet
- Not being able to, or forgetting how to, perform the activities of using the toilet, such as undoing clothing and personal hygiene
- Not letting others help with going to the toilet, perhaps due to embarrassment or not understanding an offer of help
- Not making any attempt to find the toilet – this could be due to depression or lack of motivation, or because the person is distracted
- Embarrassment after an accident, which the person unsuccessfully tries to deal with. This may lead to wet or soiled clothes or faeces being put out of sight. For example, they may be wrapped up and put at the back of a drawer to be dealt with later, only to be forgotten about
Alzheimer’s Society explains: “For some people, incontinence develops because messages between the brain and the bladder or bowel don’t work properly.
“This may mean people don’t recognise that they have a full bladder or bowel, or have the control needed to empty them.
“However, this is not a common cause of toilet problems and incontinence in people with dementia. It usually only occurs when the person’s dementia is more advanced.”
So what can you do to prevent dementia developing?