Caring For a Loved One with Fecal Incontinence

Your 1+1 Team
June 9, 2022

It is common for many people to be reluctant to discuss their experiences with fecal incontinence. They often feel frustrated and embarrassed about their condition. If your loved one is experiencing fecal incontinence, you may feel torn on how to help them in their situation. While it may be a hard topic of conversation, addressing it can provide them the support and information needed for a happier, healthier life.

What is fecal incontinence?

Fecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movement, which can cause stool (feces) leakage. Someone experiencing fecal incontinence may pass stool when attempting to pass gas or lose complete control.

The following are possible reasons for fecal incontinence:

  • Short-term illnesses: Diarrhea or gastroenteritis
  • Long-term illnesses: Diabetes, dementia, or multiple sclerosis
  • General aging: Age-related decline can affect nerves and muscles in the bowel.
  • Chronic Constipation: stool can overflow and leak from the rectum.

Diagnosing fecal incontinence

A primary care physician will diagnose fecal incontinence based on questions regarding their symptoms, so your loved one must understand their recurring accidents as much as possible. They will ask the details of how long they have been occurring and what type of events trigger them because the condition can vary based on the scenario. Urge incontinence occurs when older individuals can’t make it to the bathroom on time. Passive incontinence occurs when they experience no sensation before passing stool. It may seem embarrassing but discussing in detail their condition can help their physician understand it fully for diagnosis and treatment.

Treatment options for fecal incontinence

Treatment for bowel control issues depends mostly on the cause. For instance, if diarrhea is the reason, their doctor may prescribe them bulk laxatives to form solid stools that are easier to control. Here are some other treatment options for fecal incontinence:

  • Dietary Changes: If your loved one is also experiencing chronic constipation, diet can play a huge part in minimizing symptoms. Eating food rich in fiber and increasing fluid intake can help reduce constipation and prevent leakage.
  • Exercise: Try exercises that focus on strengthening their anal sphincter function and pelvic floor muscles. Consider a trained therapist and biofeedback therapy to ensure the exercises are addressing it correctly.
  • Bowel training: Your loved one can train themselves to stick to a schedule and develop a routine of using the bathroom at certain times of the day. This method takes time to be effective but the body will get used to going at those arranged times.
  • Surgical options: Surgical options such as sphincteroplasty, sacral nerve stimulation, injections of non-absorbable bulking agents, or bowel diversion may be recommended for serious cases to better control symptoms.

You can breathe a sigh of relief now that you have a better understanding of their condition and possible treatment. Addressing fecal incontinence together can help them move forward in the process of getting better.

1+1 Cares is a referral agency that works for clients and caregivers. We match caregivers with clients and inform them of your requirements. We work for you so you and your loved one can have a safe, enjoyable caregiving experience.

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