When we think of incontinence, the elderly come to mind. We never think of it as something that a child, young adult, or a middle aged adult would face. When we hear of such things, it is shocking: or, some of us may even be disgusted with it. But little do you know, incontinence is more than just a geriatric problem. There are millions of young and active people who live with the condition and its challenges.
The first major challenge that the young and active incontinent population faces is that the protection, especially those that are sold at Wal-Mart or in the drug stores, are made for the elderly and bed ridden since the market is more focused on them. And even then, the protection barely holds up for them. When active people try to wear such protection, disaster strikes. Clothing becomes wet and soiled due to springing leaks. It is as if the young and active were wearing nothing at all.
The reason this happens is because those who are not elderly do not want to come out about their suffering. This is predominantly due to the attitude that society engrains in us from toddlerhood-you are a disgusting, horrible human being for having an accident. Since this attitude is widely accepted, those who live with incontinence suffer in silence, leading a life of loneliness. They refuse to leave their homes, and they no longer wish to work. Others who have had the problem all their lives never seek a job. No wonder there are not many protection options for those who choose to be active.
Thankfully, there are a vast number of confident individuals who live with the condition. These confident sufferers are not afraid to go against the attitude of society, and they advocate for better protection and better treatment by the public. They let society know that incontinent people are not disgusting for having accidents, nor are they babyish for needing to wear diapers to protect their clothing. Rather, they are active like anyone else, raising families, holding jobs, traveling, and owning their own homes. They have normal minds, some even brilliant. Because of these individuals stepping out and taking the courage to advocate, better protection has been manufactured, but it still cannot be purchased in the drug stores or at Wal-Mart. It has to be ordered online. It may be a long way before stores even consider carrying protection to meet the needs of the young and active, as there is still not enough awareness and acceptance of the problem. Sadly, this is not the only challenge that the young and active incontinent population must content with.
Another challenge that comes from people believing that incontinence is only a geriatric problem is that there are not enough accommodations in public bathrooms, doctor’s offices, and workplaces. Much of the time, when an incontinent person who is not a part of the elderly population states that they may need accommodations, they are thought to be strange. A common problem that occurs in the doctor’s office is that when asked to give a urine sample by medical personnel, the staff does not know how to react when the person states that they may need to do things a bit differently because they have no control. You’d think that no explanation is needed since these people are in the medical field and should already know about incontinence, but this is not the case. They act as if something utterly strange happened when the person states that urine samples may be tough to give because they are in diapers and lack the control to provide a specimen. They treat the patient as if they were a creature from another planet, as if they were something out of a scary movie. After much explaining, the staff eventually get it, but it does not stop them from talking about it to their coworkers as if it were the weirdest thing they encountered. And sometimes, the talking is within earshot of the patient. These staff think that because the door to the examination room, or the bathroom is closed, that they can start flapping their yap without the patient hearing. But little do they realize, the patient has heard every single solitary word and feels rather insulted since they have just gathered all the courage they had to disclose such information to someone they thought they could trust-medical personnel. And you’d think that being that they are in the medical field, they’d be less likely to judge. Sadly, their knowledge is worthless, as they allow their judgment to cloud it over. Such ill treatment is another reason incontinent people keep silent and hidden. If you think that is bad, it gets worse.
In the workplace, bosses are less than tolerant to incontinence and the problems it causes. Employers may expect his workers to work long stretches without breaks, when a person suffering from incontinence may need breaks throughout the day to change and manage incontinence. The incontinent person does not want to talk this over with his boss because he fears losing his job or being made fun of. Consequently, he continues his work, wearing the same diapers for several hours, which is not healthy at all to say the least. He knows he has a family to support, and he must suffer to provide for them. So he makes due in substandard conditions.
Thankfully, incontinence advocates, as well as confident patients, are fighting for their rights. They are making a lot of noise about such treatment, and they are letting the public know that this is wrong. Bosses have to follow laws that promise accommodations, and they cannot deny a person work or fire them on the basis of incontinence or any other disability for that matter. If the person can do the job, and his performance is up to par, it would be a violation of his civil rights for the boss to deal with him in such a way. Unfortunately, all does not end glamorously. There is still much trouble in the workplace, and there is still a lack of accommodations in public places.
Most public rest rooms are not incontinence friendly. It is very hard to change in them, and it is up to the incontinence sufferer to be creative and make things work. The good thing is that more family bathrooms are coming into existence, which makes life much easier. Though this is the case, there are still a number of places that do not have family rest rooms, and the only way there will be more is if people continue to advocate, educate, and make the need for such bathrooms known.
The young and the active that live with incontinence still have a number of challenges to face, and life is still difficult. But when society realizes that incontinence is not just confined to geriatrics, these challenges will be a thing of the past, and the quality of life for such individuals will greatly increase.