Alzheimer's Caregiving

Frequently Asked Questions

13. What steps should a caregiver take when the person with Alzheimer's becomes incontinent?

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, many people begin to experience incontinence, the inability to control the bladder and/or bowels. Sometimes incontinence is due to an illness or other cause that can be treated, so be sure to talk with the person's doctor.

Have a routine for taking the person to the bathroom. For example, take him or her to the bathroom every 2 to 3 hours during the day. Don't wait for them to ask. Watch for signs that they may have to go to the bathroom, such as restlessness or pulling at clothes. Respond quickly. Use a stable toilet seat at a good height.

Be understanding when accidents occur. Stay calm and reassure the person if he or she is upset. Try to keep track of when accidents happen to help plan ways to avoid them. To help prevent nighttime accidents, limit fluids in the evening. Use adult disposable briefs, bed protectors, and waterproof mattress covers if necessary.

If you are going to be out, plan ahead. Know where restrooms are located and have the person wear simple, easy-to-remove clothing. Bring an extra set of clothing along in case of an accident.

(Watch the video to learn more about handling incontinence for a person who has Alzheimer's. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)