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Breaking the stigma

My mother is 63-years-old and has suffered from incontinence for a number of years. It first started with her not being able to control her bladder when she was laughing or coughing, but soon it developed into not being able to control her bladder during everyday life.

She has to wear incontinence products and is embarrassed about it. She also has hip/leg problems, so she needs help putting the incontinence product on and taking them off. This is the part that’s usually embarrassing for her, and is something I can understand. It is not a pleasant task, but the more I put her at ease that it’s part of life, the more she seems to be comfortable with the idea.

Last Christmas she came to visit us and on Christmas Eve she called me and said she just peed on the floor in her bedroom. She was very apologetic and of course I asked her why she was not wearing an incontinence product. Her response was that she forgot them at the old-age home where she lives and she didn’t want to be a burden.


“I didn’t want you to worry about me,” she said. “I thought I could control it.”

It was very difficult finding a pharmacy that’s open on Christmas Eve, but she was grateful when we eventually came home with the incontinence products. It was an eye-opening experience for me as well. I never knew there are so many products on the market and the impact that incontinence products can have on a person’s life.

There’s also a stigma attached to buying incontinence products; people silently judge you and you can see it in their eyes. But to me that is purely being uncomfortable with the topic. If my mother can live with the condition on a daily basis, surely I can buy some incontinence products and not be embarrassed about it. Incontinence is a medical condition like any other and the more we talk about it, the better.

My mother felt free for the rest of her stay. There was no worrying about laughing or walking about and I could see it was a big relief for her.

“Thanks for the incontinence products” she said as she climbed into the car when we took her home a few days later.


“It really improves my quality of life.”

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