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Incontinence Education for Older Adults, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 703

Essay

Anyone, not just older adults, can be hesitant to discuss their own incontinence. We can put this problem in perspective by imagining an adolescent boy or girl confronted with a young adult nurse of the opposite sex asking them if they are having problems with incontinence. Looked at it this way, we might come to the conclusion that older adults are less likely to be overly concerned. And this goes for the nurse or doctor as well, regardless of their own age. Be they younger than the patient or the same age or older, we can see that they will be in a relatively better position to speak frankly to an older patient, provided only that the nurse is not a male speaking to a female. That latter situation is best avoided as a matter of routine, while acknowledging that there are patients who defy age- and gender stereotypes (Sung et al. 123). However, there is a problem with older patients and incontinence if the incontinence is not going to go away because it is strictly age-related. The problem is that the patient is facing the wider problem of aging within a socially devastating medical context (Weiss 1). Getting old is surely hard enough socially and financially even when you are healthy. To age with incontinence is all that much harder, as the patient faces an inexorably lower quality of life.

So the key question to providing information is how to make the patient in that situation feel comfortable discussing their incontinence. Starting with a baseline assumption that the consult is taking place in private, and that the patient is still living independently, the best way to start is to take the conversational initiative by asking about incontinence, rather than waiting for them to bring it up. There are basically two ways to do so, and they depend on the kind of information that you, the nurse, already have. If you know that the patient is suffering from the condition, then it will be comparatively easy to open a dialogue on the subject. You just ask them how bad their condition is. If you are not sure, you can go a step further and still ask them about their incontinence by assuming it as an already established fact, even while not actually knowing whether that assumption is right. If your guess is correct, the way is open for the patient to ask questions. So we may view the problem as getting patients move away from denial with dignity. But a frank and forthright approach can be an abrupt tactic not suitable for all. It must be remembered that just as an adolescent isn’t an adult, so an octogenarian isn’t middle aged. “Older adult” takes in a lot of territory. A decade makes a lot of difference.

So problems can start when you are not sure but suspect the patient may be experiencing life-impacting consequences, or is fearful of doing so in the near future, and you sense a real reluctance on the patient’s part to discuss it. They might even lie to you outright, and probably will if they can still lie to themselves. This problem is complicated by the fact that elderly patients, although still living independently, are often living alone. There will be no spouse or family member with whom you can communicate, someone you can partner with.

At this point, it is important to remember that care-providers can only do so much for patients who are not yet under institutionalized care. If a patient is not willing to cooperate or is psychologically unable to cooperate, then document your reasonable and prudent attempts to provide all the care and advice that you felt was appropriate with the information available (Sharpe 18). Given the practicalities of a nurse’s crowded schedule, skill at a kind of triage, of defining patients by how receptive they are to overtures of this kind, is helpful. If they are not receptive today, they will be receptive tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year, finally.

Works Cited

Sharpe, Charles C. Nursing Malpractice: Liability and Risk Management. 1999. Print.

 Sung, Kyu-taik, Bum Jung Kim. Respect for the Elderly: Implications for Human Service Providers. 2009. Web.

Weiss, Barry D. Diagnostic Evaluation of Urinary Incontinence in Geriatric Patients. 1998. Web.

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