The psychological impact of incontinence

Incontinence doesn’t just present as a physical condition; the emotional and psychological impact can be significant and have a ripple effect on family carers.

The emotional stages of incontinence can mirror grief, which is perhaps not surprising given it’s often the symptom of deterioration due to age, disability or disease.

 

The journey can include denial, anxiety, frustration and anger, feelings of loss and depression. You can read more about these stages on the Continence Foundation of Australia’s website. 

 

It’s important to keep an eye out for signs of depression and anxiety in the person you’re caring for, which are often harder to detect if they’re older. Seeking professional help before things escalate is preferable, and the Beyond Blue website has practical advice on starting a conversation about emotional wellbeing.

 

And don’t forget about you. Managing someone else’s continence can be physically demanding as well as emotionally taxing. Your resilience and ability to fulfil your caring role can be compromised if you’re feeling exhausted, stressed or overwhelmed.

 

Sane Australia has some great tips for family carers of people with mental health issues, which may arise because of incontinence, including links to support services.

 

If you’re in New Zealand, head to Carers New Zealand or ContinenceNZ for advice and information on where to get help.