A New Year a New LBL Checklist

As they say in sports, the best defense is a good offense. The same holds true on the home front where caring for a loved one or family member who has incontinence often requires thinking ahead and having a good "game plan."

Establishing a management plan, or a routine for care, is a good way to keep your time organized and your experience a rewarding one. By having a plan of action, you're better able to deliver care to your loved one, and still have the resources and energies needed to care for yourself.

Here are eight strategies that can help you stay on top of your game when caring for a loved one with incontinence:

1. Be prepared. When taking your loved one out, make sure he or she has gone to the bathroom before leaving the house. Be prepared by carrying extra absorbent products and wipes with you wherever you go. Pack them discreetly in your to-go duffle bag and keep an extra supply in the trunk of your car.

2. Know before they go. Check for the locations of public rest rooms to make sure they're easily accessible. This might mean making a few phone calls before you arrive or doing a quick tour ahead of time. You'll want to make sure away-from-home facilities will accommodate your loved one comfortably and cleanly. Bring any concerns to the attention of the facility and they are more than likely to be accommodating.

3. Make it routine. Establishing daily and nightly routines with your family member is also a good idea. It enables your loved one to predict when he or she might need to go. Outside of the routines, Depend® absorbent products can offer the reassurance your loved one needs to avoid accidents or leaks.

4.Manage the meds. If your loved one is taking medication that affect his or her incontinence, be sure you understand how to dispense it, how to store it, and how to manage any side-effects should they occur.

5. Take time for yourself. Outside of the day-in and day-out care, make sure you get time off on a regular basis, even if it's a few hours, one or two afternoons a week. Arrange to have home help for those times, and get out of the house. Go somewhere different – for a walk or to a movie-to give yourself a complete change of scenery. While you may need the time to run errands, don't let that take up all your free time. Get creative and persistent in recruiting trusted family members to help out wherever they can.

6. Stay healthy. Managing your good health, as well as that of your family member, is extremely important. Be sure to eat a balanced diet, get adequate rest, and exercise as regularly as you can.

7. Enlist team support. Finding support groups can be a tremendous help for caregivers. It's comforting to talk with others who understand what you're going through. They can offer helpful insights to cheer you on, or simply provide a sympathetic set of ears to hear you out.

8. Get coached. Knowing when to ask for help is key. Make sure you get the answers you need. If you don't know or understand something, don't be afraid to ask your healthcare professional.

These eight strategies are just a start to help set your game plan for caring for your loved one. Customize your game plan by adding some ideas of your own. The secret is taking time to think things through ahead of time. By making a plan you'll slowly but surely gain that home-team advantage on the caregiving front!