When it comes to incontinence, bariatric care has its own set of unique challenges. Individuals with obesity issues may have special needs — mobility concerns, as well as weight-related medical difficulties related to bruising more easily and involuntary excretion.
If you care for a friend or family member who has weight issues, it's natural to wonder how you can help them feel more comfortable and satisfied. To make your job easier, we've created this comprehensive guide that answers common questions and provides helpful tidbits of information.
What does the term bariatric care mean?
Bariatric is a medical term for being overweight or obese. Bariatric care specifically refers to the treatment, prevention, and causes of excess muscle versus fat. As we age, our metabolism slows down, so if we aren’t careful about adjusting our dietary and exercise habits accordingly, it can lead to putting on excess weight. According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35 percent of adults over the age of 65 are overweight1.
Although the phrases weight and overweight are sometimes interchanged, they refer to two different things. The Body Mass Index is used by experts to calculate corpulence (BMI). BMI is a measurement that divides a person's weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters. A person is clinically corpulent and deemed a bariatric patient if their BMI is 30 or more.
Why do bariatric patients require special attention?
When someone is severely overweight, simple tasks such as climbing stairs, using the restroom, or fully cleaning oneself can become incredibly tough.
Carrying additional pounds on your frame has a negative impact on the joints, causes the heart to work harder than it needs to, and can even make it difficult to reach specific areas of the body. These factors can cause a variety of problems, such as persistent pain, exhaustion, or difficulty maintaining proper hygiene.
These and other factors must be considered in order to provide adequate bariatric care. The better you understand treatment for your loved one, the easier it will be to improve their health and well-being.
What are some of the most prevalent medical issues that affect bariatric patients?
Bariatric individuals are more likely to develop chronic illnesses such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, and joint inflammation. These problems can be debilitating, but may be able to be managed with regular physical exams, dependable lifestyle modifications, and possibly doctor-prescribed medication.
Other weight-related medical issues necessitate ongoing monitoring and treatment. This is especially evident when it comes to two factors: healthy skin and incontinence.
The largest organ in the body is the skin. It's incredibly strong, but being overweight causes it to stretch and crease, increasing the risk of a variety of problems, including:
- Contact dermatitis
- Bacterial or yeast contamination
- Stretch marks
If your loved one is unable to move about or utilizes a wheelchair, they may develop bedsores. Bed wounds are slow healing wounds that develop on areas of the skin that are frequently subjected to a lot of pressure and irritation; such as the glutes, lower back, or thighs.
Utilizing the proper products and equipment is essential to ensure skin irritation and other related issues are minimized as much as possible. For instance, TENA Cleansing Cream is specially designed to cleanse the skin without any need for rinsing with soap or water after use, and is a stellar choice for bedridden individuals.
Bariatric patients more prone to incontinence
Incontinence becomes more common as people become older, and in bariatric patients it’s even more frequently the case. The bladder may be irritated by the accumulation of fat around the stomach area. This can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, causing involuntary urination. Furthermore, bariatric individuals may have a more difficult time cleaning themselves after using the restroom.
How to manage a very high BMI
When a person's weight exceeds 400 pounds, or their BMI exceeds 30, problems may arise when it comes to maintaining personal hygiene and administering medical treatments. Disturbances, injuries, and infections can occur if special care is not administered regularly. Typically, the heavier a person is, the more clinical difficulties they may have to deal with. If possible, diet and exercise plans should be devised and adhered to in order to reduce the individual's weight. A certified doctor and nutritionist can give specific information on this topic for your individual circumstances.
Individuals may begin to have incontinence issues when they reach a certain weight. Furthermore, when the body reaches a certain size, using the restroom independently can become a challenge. As a result, a bariatric patient may need incontinence cushions or adult diapers.
Patients with a BMI above 40 should use bariatric-specific clinical goods and supplies. Bariatric supplies offer higher weight restrictions, allowing them to safely support loads of more than 350 pounds. They are also designed to be larger in order to suit the patient more comfortably and securely. Shower safety hardware, step rails, furnishings, beds, and sleeping cushions come in bariatric sizes and models.
Weight problems aren't limited to medical conditions. One of the most important goals of a bariatric guardian is to make sure their patient is comfortable.
Bariatric patients' furniture and equipment
One of your primary responsibilities as a caregiver is to assist your patient in obtaining the necessities they require to live as normal a life as possible. There are a slew of provisions in place to help bariatric patients. There is equipment available for every room of the house, including but not limited to:
- Beds and bedding for bariatric patients
- Chests for bariatric patients (which can be utilized in any room of the house)
- Shower seats for bariatrics and shower wellbeing seats
- Bariatric walkers
Best absorbent bariatric products
There are two absorbent products that stand out most for bariatric patients, designed specifically to meet their needs.
Prevail Bariatric Adjustable Unisex Briefs, Ultimate absorbency, Breathable
Prevail Bariatric Adjustable Unisex Briefs are comprised of ultra absorbent polymers that collect urine and turn it into a gel, keeping the briefs dry. The elastic side panels provide a soft, yet flexible fit that keeps you comfortable throughout the day. The topsheet and backing are both made of a cloth-like material, which keeps the short quiet while while allowing for maximum comfort. The design's breathability helps heat to escape, promoting skin health and wellness. All scents are trapped by advanced odor guard technology, resulting in a clean and fresh feeling. This brief is ideal for people who are bedridden or immobile, and it fits waist measurements ranging from 62 to 100 inches.
Tranquility Bariatric Unisex Tabbed Brief, Heavy absorbency, Urine & Fecal
The Tranquility Bariatric Unisex Tabbed Brief, Heavy Absorbency is a disposable brief with adjustable tabs that can be refasten as needed. The core of the absorbent Peach Mat is designed to keep the skin dry, limit bacterial growth, and eliminate odor. Elastic cuffs are a better and more secure barrier for incontinence because they tightly fit around the legs. Caregivers can easily tell when a change is required thanks to the wetness indication. Soft and quiet materials are used to reduce noise. Sizes 3XL-High-Rise (64-96”) are available.
- When it's time to change, the wetness indicator changes color
- Air circulation is allowed by the breathable backing material, which keeps the skin dry and healthy
- Refastenable tabs keep the brief in place without being sticky and allow you to modify it to your preference
- This product has a cloth-like backing that makes it seem and feel like any other brief, so you may use it with confidence
- The Peach Mat core absorbs a lot of fluids and keeps it locked in, keeping your skin dry
The difficulties of providing bariatric care
Providing care comes with its own set of challenges, and it necessitates a knowledge of the contrasts between the parent and the patient. It is especially noticeable if the person in need of assistance is overweight.
There are various safety steps you should take when focusing on giving care to your patient, whether they are bed-bound or capable. Above all, you must protect both your patient and yourself from harm. As a caregiver, your job is to provide assistance and work to improve the patient's quality of life.
1. Walensky, R. MD MPH (June 2021). "Adult Obesity Facts". United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Disclaimer: The information presented here is purely for educational purposes and should not be used in place of the advice of your doctor or physician.