When the summer months roll around, it is inherent in many of us to develop a travel bug. Perhaps the family vacations of our youth– trips to the beach, fishing in a quiet stream, exploring a little nook of the world — have conditioned us to itch for a getaway as soon as the weather heats up.
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For years, you probably dreamt of one day enjoying retirement on a Florida beach, cruising the Mediterranean, or jet setting to visit family and friends. What was not so anticipated was the onset of incontinence and how it might hinder the pleasantries of senior living.
Imagine playing golf on a sunny afternoon or lounging on a boat deck miles off the coast; no bathroom in sight and not a care in the world. For many seniors with incontinence, this is little more than a far-fetched dream. Taking a vacation that isn’t centered around easily accessible public restrooms may seem more like a nightmare in the making than a relaxing vacation.
According to the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, urinary incontinence (UI) affects as many as 35 percent of persons over 60 years old. A common misconception is that UI is a natural part of aging, and many who believe this often suffer silently, not wanting to discuss their incontinence with a doctor or loved one. Keeping this secret sometimes leads to diminished activity levels out of fear that someone will notice absorbent pads through their clothes, smell a urine odor or that they will not be able to make it to the restroom in time. Such fears can make retirement less enjoyable than one hoped.
The good news is that Urinary Incontinence is completely manageable. With the proper management methods, travelling and maintaining an active life no longer have to be just a dream.
Incontinence is often a symptom of a larger health issue. Make sure to discuss your concerns with your doctor, who should be able to recommend treatments and management options. If you are trying to decide whether a talk with your doctor is necessary, here are a few questions to ask yourself. If you answer “Yes” to any of these questions, consider starting the conversation.
- Do you have urine loss of greater than 2 tablespoons at a time?
- Do you wear adult diapers, briefs or pads because of urine loss?
- Are you uncomfortable throughout the day because of diaper wetness?
- Do you have rashes, irritations or pruned skin from using a diaper?
- Do you frequently avoid social situations because of discomfort or embarrassment?
- Do you wake up 1 or more times because of urine loss in bed?
- Is your caregiver losing sleep or going out less because of your urine loss?
- Do you buy additional ointments, creams, salves and cleansers in order to treat diaper side effects?
Imagine boarding for a cross-country flight when you realize you need to change your absorbent pad. Not only are airplane bathrooms small and uncomfortable, but climbing over fellow passengers and down a narrow aisle is a daunting enough task for continent and incontinent people alike. The biggest struggle many people face with incontinence is knowing how to manage it, especially while traveling. Proximity to a bathroom is at the forefront of many people’s mind when dealing with incontinence, making traveling to unknown places, or places with few bathrooms, quite unnerving.
There are products on the market that allow people to manage incontinence in such sticky situations. For instance, one such external male continence device, called Liberty (made by BioDerm), allows incontinent men to wear the device for up to three days without needing to be changed. Liberty keeps the wearer clean and dry all day and all night and is easily concealable under normal clothing. Once UI is properly managed, suddenly the thought of an all day golf outing or a scenic train ride through the Grand Canyon seem like the adventures they were meant to be.
With Urinary Incontinence merely an afterthought, you are free to reclaim your retirement and your life. Take the vacation of your dreams. Visit with family and friends without fear or embarrassment. Regardless of your UI management method, make sure you stay clean and dry at all times. While vacationing away from home, you may not always have access to the amenities you are used to. Be sure to check with your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to travel.
Vacationing is one of the highlights of senior life. Make sure your vacations are the relaxing and invigorating experiences they are meant to be by managing your incontinence in the most effective and comfortable way possible. Take a cruise, visit the nation’s historic sites, swing away on the golf course and leave Urinary Incontinence worries in the wind.
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About the Author: Amy Coelho is the Public Relations Coordinator with BioDerm, Inc., a durable medical manufacturer in Largo, Fla. For additional information on Liberty, an external continence device for men, please contact Amy at (800)373-7006 or by email at ACoelho@BioDerm.us. Visit BioDerm on the Web at www.BioDerm.us and on Myspace at www.myspace.com/bioderm
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