How do I broach the subject of incontinence with my very proud, independent 89-year-old mother?

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If she's incontinent then she already knows right? So are you wanting to tell her to use Depends or something then? Is this a new development for her? If she's as proud as you say she is, then why is she not taking precautions already? I would think that would be something she want to take care of so no one would know. I don't get it I guess.

Stigmas are all around us, and living with incontinence plunges you into the midst of one of the most stigmatized health conditions. Some stigmatized conditions will automatically “out” you to the public, such as a facial disfigurement. Those with incontinence, however, have the ability to pass in society as normal.” While this may seem like a blessing to the outside world, passing isn’t all fun and games. It means deciding who to tell and figuring out clever ways to disguise the condition when you deem necessary. The pressure is felt by even the best passer, because you know that at any time an accident can unwittingly “out” you.

For some people, dealing with the stigma of incontinence can be more overwhelming than dealing with the medical condition itself. Luckily, there are some ways to handle the situation that will help the sufferer survive this. The first step to overcoming stigma is to seek treatment despite it.

Incontinence is first and foremost a medical condition and should be treated as such. Isolating oneself because of incontinence will only feed the stigma, so it's crucial to find supportive friends/family and keep living life. Not being afraid to educate others about our condition is also important. Many people tend to make inappropriate comments only because they don’t know the consequences and implications. Once you explain yourself, many people will become understanding and sensitive. You or I alone can’t stop our society from stigmatizing incontinence. But if we each make an effort to live fully and educate each other, the stigma iceberg will slowly melt away.

Let her know she's not alone, that incontinence is often a part of aging that we must learn to accept and live with, and that no matter what your love for her will never change.

Always at your service,

-- ED

Yea, I think my Mom is dealing with incontinence. Not too sure though. She goes thru tons of toilet paper which we are always cleaning out the washer and dryer. She won't let us do her laundry. I just don't know what else she would be using so much TP for. Not sure how to approach it either. It would just be one more thing to remind her that she is aging. She is fighting it, in her mind, and does not admit to many things that are happening to her.
Very recnetly I and other familiy members (and probably friends too polite to comment) have noticed that sometimesm y mother has a strong urine odor. It has been sporadic. Then 2 days ago my cousin noticed a wet spot on a chair that my mother had just vacated. My mother appears unaware ot the problem, but I believe she's in denial. We both struggle with getting along as we are very different. Therefore, the idea of talking with her about this problem isn't easy. I was looking for some thoughts on how to do so.
naheaton - The only thing you were right about is that you don't get it. Your comments were very unhelpful and judgmental.
Ed - Thank you so much! Your thoughts and information have made me feel much more prepared to have this difficult conversation. Again, thank you for your insight.
Arm, First of all in your original post, it sounded like your mother was aware of the incontinence, but you were wanting to talk to her about it. That's why I couldn't understand the problem, if she was dealing with it privately, were you wanting to help her some way?
naheaton, My question merely indicated that I was trying to figure out how to talk with my mother, nothing more. Perhaps more detail would have helped you to frame a better response. It's a moot point now, but thank you.
I have this issue with my dad, too, at times when his leg issues turn into infection in blood issues, which cause incontinence somehow... my dad is really independent, very proud, a young sprout at 72! He doesn't like to hear about his aging issues.
My dad doesn't like to hear of such stuff from his daughter either, he potty trained me after all.
One thing I did, was I told his doctor about it over the phone. The next time my dad saw his doctor, I had his doctor bring it up while we were there. It was okay then, to talk about it because it was the doctor speaking to my dad, not me.
The doctor suggested a portable urinal chair for my dad's private space, his bedroom room and a hand held urinal for him too. I got him both, he uses both but won't let me in his room to clean them - he takes care of that and his home care provider does too.
The doctor suggested incontinence pads for my dad's bed - he does use them, but will not use pull ons or personal pads in his briefs. Since his problem is off/on again, it's his decision and his choice of the chair/hand held urinal and bed pads the doctor suggested to him seem to work for my dad right now.

It's a subject I didn't mind speaking with my dad about, but it is a subject I knew he would have an issue speaking with me about. His doctor bringing it up really helped. Hoped this helps!
Before my mom had her stroke, she was having a lot of accidents. I was cleaning up behind her about a year before she actually became sick.

Both my sister and I suggested she wear Depends but she always refused so we stopped talking to her about it. She would call me extremely early asking me to come over and clean up, I'd go every time. When I did her washing, her undergarments were so sour I'd have to air and clean out her dirty clothes hamper each time I washed.

After constantly cleaning the stains in the carpet in her room, and in the hallway headed towards the bathroom, the bathroom, and my car, she finally thought it a good idea to start wearing the Depends. She started out wearing them at night, then progressed to day and night.

It's a touchy subject because our parents do not want to lose their independence but it's something that must be done delicately.

After a while that pride has got to go out the window.
So far, I think Mom is hiding it. It is not obvious yet. I do believe she is using tp that way instead of buying depends. I wish I knew how to ask her...all the tp is going to clog up the washer and dryer one of these days. I guess one of these days I will ask if this has become an issue for her and if she needs help. There does not seem to be any easy way.
Pamela, I know about that sour smell. Kept encouraging mom to handle the situation, she was a retired nurse, for heaven's sake but her stubborness (because I said it) always "allowed" her to drag her feet. Finally told her if I found any more wet undies in the hamper, I was throwing them in the trash because I took her laundry to my house to wash. My threat and follow through, and the fact that my 30 something son went to visit and wound up having to help his grandma when she had an accident pushed her to get the Depends. It had nothing to do with losing independence or growing old, she'd had bladder probs for a zillion yrs. It was her stubborn streak, plain and simple, because I was trying to get her to do something that wasn't her idea first. If the garbage man had told her to get Depends, she would've bought a case just to spite me!!!

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