The Importance of Being Your Own Health Advocate

wworking on laptop and woman on phone writing notes at deskoman in wheelchair

Health care providers and hospitals have the best intentions in mind; however, medical errors do occur. If you feel something is wrong, it is crucial to be your own health advocate and speak up. Bringing attention to a potential issue could prevent a future error with another patient. Meena Dhanjal Outlaw suffered a spinal cord injury over 20 years ago that left her significantly paralyzed. Here, she speaks about the importance of being your own health advocate.

All Doctors Are Not Created Equal

When I had my spinal cord injury seventeen years ago, it was evident that the type of medical attention I need is by doctors who understand a spinal cord injury. I lived far away from the rehabilitation facility that practically took care of my needs, so I sought a general physician close to home. Unfortunately, I found that she was not well-versed in treating patients with spinal cord injuries,

I could go to my general physician for common colds and other minor issues. However, I realized she didn’t understand how my body functioned after a spinal cord injury.

For example, every time I had to give a urine sample, she would note that there was bacteria in my urine and instantly say, ‘You have a urinary tract infection.’ and give me a prescription for antibiotics.  I already knew from the specialized doctors I had seen thus far that I would only need an antibiotic if I had a fever or unexpected bladder accidents. So to avoid conflict with the doctor, I just never filled the prescription.

It wasn’t easy at times, but if I didn’t speak up for myself, then who will?

Pay Attention to Your Body and Ask Questions

Doctor Discussing Medication with his patient as they sit next to one anotherAt one point, I had to call my surgeon when I experienced a post-op problem. The surgeon had placed a port under my shoulder to provide easier access to the type of transfusion that will successfully treat the neuromuscular disease I have in addition to my spinal cord injury, which is called Myasthenia Gravis.

I knew there was a problem, considering the amount of blood oozing from where the incision had been made to place the catheter. The nurse in post-op knew that they had missed a stitch. After looking at the wound, the doctor didn’t think it was necessary to put in an extra stitch.

I was in pain the entire weekend after the surgery and felt I was consuming way too much over-the-counter pain medication.

Upon going for my second transfusion, I mentioned to the doctor that I was still in a lot of pain. He dismissed my pain, told me I had a small clot, and redressed the area.

Unfortunately, I felt I couldn’t speak up for myself at that time. However, since then, I spoke with my neurologist, who recommended pain medication. In addition, the doctors will now be keeping a closer eye on this area since I have several more treatments there.

If You are Concerned, Speak Up for Yourself

Self-advocacy isn’t always getting the result you think is necessary for you. Instead, it’s about not being afraid to speak up when necessary. Many people with a disability feel they cannot speak up for themselves because they don’t want to offend the doctor and possibly get more neglectful care.

I look back and wonder if I had spoken up at the time, would that surgeon continue to dismiss me or would I have had a weekend free of pain?

Take Charge and Educate Yourself – Be Your Own Health Advocate

older woman sitting in a chair and reading a book

The best form of defense for me as a woman with a spinal cord injury was to educate myself about my own condition. This helped me better take action over my situation and prevent specific problems.

For example, if I took the antibiotics every time the general physician prescribed them to me, my body could’ve become immune to antibiotic treatment. At that point of severity, the only way to treat a UTI would be intravenously in a hospital with a much stronger dose of antibiotics.

Today, I have a general physician who listens to me and is well-versed in treating patients with Myasthenia Gravis and spinal cord injuries. While visiting her means a longer drive, it’s worth it to me because her care is so important.

So to recap:

  • Don’t be afraid to speak up.
  • Become knowledgeable about your condition so that you know what to do even after leaving a physician with no treatment to remedy your issue.
  • Find a doctor that understands
  • Don’t be afraid of distance.
  • Know your rights as a patient.

For further information on becoming your own health advocate and your rights as a patient, check out this helpful link www.patientadvocate.org, and remember knowledge is power.

Becoming your own health advocate can take time, but as Meena explains in her story, that tremendously helped her. There are many struggles that can come along with a spinal cord injury such as:

  • Neurological issues that can lead to loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Poor coordination or balance when walking
  • Extreme back, neck, and head pain
  • Changes in sexual function, sensitivity, and fertility

Being your own health advocate can help you feel more in control of your condition and have more confidence in the decisions you make for your medical care. When you take an active role in your health care, you are more likely to get the resources you need.

At Personally Delivered, we carry home delivery medical supplies for a wide variety of conditions. Whether you are looking for adult disposable diapers, incontinence pads, protective underwear, catheter supplies, or any other medical supplies, we have got you covered. Our friendly, knowledgeable, and caring Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to assist you in the purchasing process.

About the Author

Meena Dhanjal Outlaw

On January 23, 2000, Meena suffered a spinal cord injury that left her a T12 paraplegic. She worked hard to grow and push past adversity and challenges and even went back to school for a four-year diploma in writing for teenagers and children.

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Hollister New Image Two-Piece Drainable Ostomy Pouch

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Cancer Screenings: Your Essential Guide

your essential guide to cancer screenings with a family walking on the beach

Cancer screenings can help detect cancer in the early stages or before you begin to have symptoms. By detecting cancer early, you may give yourself a better chance of surviving and thriving. Keeping up with preventive screenings that your doctor recommends is key to catching potential issues such as breast, cervical, prostate, endometrial, and colorectal cancer before they turn into something worse.

Who determines when to get screened?

Created in 1984, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force works to improve all Americans’ health by making evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications.

Task Force members come from a wide array of medical-related fields. That history of experience can be from primary care, internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, behavioral health, obstetrics and gynecology, and nursing. This team rigorously reviews existing peer-reviewed evidence to make recommendations for screenings. This process can help primary care clinicians and patients decide whether a preventive service is right for a patient’s needs.

Cancer Screening Guidelines

The following cancer screening guidelines are for people who have an average risk for cancer. If you have an increased risk due to your family history, you may need screenings earlier or more often. It would be best to speak to your doctor to see what’s right for you.

Breast Cancer Screenings

two women holding pink ribbons showing their support of breast cancer screeningsYearly mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer’s early stages when it is easier to treat. The USPSTF recommends women to get mammograms at the following ages:

Ages 45 to 54: once every year

Ages 55 and older: once every other year

It is important to note that women with a heightened breast cancer risk should ask their doctors about the risks and benefits of an annual MRI and mammogram.

Cervical Cancer Screenings

The Pap test can find abnormal cells in the cervix, which may turn into cancer. The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes. The chance of being cured is very high when the Pap tests find cervical cancer early.

The USPSTF recommends women to get a Pap test at the following ages:

Ages 21 to 29: once every three years

Ages 30 to 65:

  • once every three years
  • an HPV test once every five years
  • or a Pap test and an HPV test once every five years

Women older than 65: Those with normal screenings and who do not have a high risk for cervical cancer may not need screening.

Colorectal Cancer Screenings

doctor in a lab testing cancer screening samplesThe American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends people with an average risk for colorectal cancer start regular cancer screenings at age 45. Simultaneously, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) advises beginning screening at age 50. Those with an increased risk for colorectal cancer due to family history may need to get cancer screenings at an earlier age.

Discuss with your doctor which of the following tests are recommended by the USPSTF:

Endometrial Cancer Screenings

anatomy of the female uterus when detecting endometrial cancer in cancer screeningsEndometrial cancer forms in the lining of the uterus. By early detection and surgical removal of the uterus, endometrial cancer is often cured. After reaching menopause, women who have abnormal bleeding or spotting should tell their doctors. Your doctor may order cancer screenings to help detect endometrial cancer.

Prostate Cancer Screenings

When men reach the ages of 55 to 69, the USPSTF recommends discussing the potential benefits and risks of prostate cancer screenings with their physicians to help make informed decisions. After the age of 70, the USPSTF advises against men getting screened.

At Personally Delivered, we hope your lifelong health journey never includes a cancer diagnosis. Whatever your age or medical history, maintaining an open and close relationship with your physician will help keep track of your long-term health.

Many of these types of cancers may require the use of catheters, incontinence products, and skin care needs. These may be a temporary need or one that is long-term. We carry a wide array of these home delivery medical supplies and can help you find the ones your doctor recommends that are right for you. Our friendly, knowledgeable, and compassionate Product Experts will help make your purchasing selection as easy as possible.

All recommendations for cancer screenings and more detailed information from the USPSTF can be found directly on their site.

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Having a Spinal Cord Injury and Regaining Independence

man in wheelchair smiling and raising his fist in success

A spinal cord injury is an often disabling medical condition caused by damage to the spinal cord or the nerves near the end of the spinal cord. Depending on the location of the injury on the spine, paralysis can occur in some if not all parts of the body. The higher the injury location on the spine, the more assistance a person most likely will need.

Becoming disabled after a spinal cord injury can truly be devastating. However, many individuals – even with high levels of paralysis, such as quadriplegics, go on to be extremely successful and productive members of society. Many also have relationships, including marriage and children.

Managing Life at Home After a Spinal Cord Injury

The biggest concern for anyone who has a spinal cord injury is how they will manage it. This thought happens most often in the early stages of their recovery. When I had my spinal cord injury, I couldn’t do much for myself either. After having a back fusion surgery where rods were surgically placed all the way down my spine, I had to wear a TSO cast that encased my entire upper torso. It gave time for the rods to fuse with my spine. During this time, I was under many restrictions, such as when I wasn’t wearing it, I had to remain in bed and could not even turn myself. After twelve weeks, I was completely free from wearing this cast, but I still couldn’t lift more than five pounds.

As much as I appreciated all this attention to detail, my biggest concern was that I had infant children. My youngest was a newborn who had never been less than five pounds. So, I had no choice but to hire help. It was the only way I was going to have any chance of working on myself. I hired a nanny to live with me to take care of the baby at night. During the day, they went to daycare.

I was in a rental wheelchair when I went home from rehab. I was also sleeping in a hospital bed until the orthopedic surgeon felt it was safe for me to sleep in my own bed. Before I had left rehab, I had hired a home health aid. She wasn’t trained in personal care, such as bladder and bowel incontinence, but she was willing to learn, so the rehab facility taught her. She helped me shower, take care of my bathroom needs at home, dressed me, and helped me into my wheelchair. Once I was in the wheelchair, I was at least mobile.

Then, I learned to drive. I received assistance from DARS, now known as Texas Workforce. They helped pay for the hand controls installed in my car and the lessons to learn how to drive a modified vehicle.

Going Back to Work After a Spinal Cord Injury

woman in a wheelchair working on a computerLater on, when I chose to go back to college, Texas Workforce helped pay for courses and books that I needed. When I got further education to write for teenagers and children, they continued to help me achieve my ultimate goal to be a full-time writer. I chose to work from home, so with their help, I had my office set up with adaptive equipment, including an ‘uplift desk.’ There was no excuse for me to not be productive, so I went to work.

Going back to work after my spinal cord injury was one of the best decisions I could have made for myself, along with learning to drive. The sense of independence I felt was heaven sent. Within months, my confidence as a writer grew. With continuous physical therapy, I also gained upper body strength to take care of my own needs.

I wasn’t shy about seeking psychological help either. I was grieving the loss of my legs and how my spinal cord injury affected my life after that. Everything changed for me, and I could either sink or swim.

Regaining Independence After My Spinal Cord Injury

After my youngest reached four years old, I let go of the nanny. That had been one of the many goals I had set for myself. So from that point on, I was taking care of my two children alone.

I’ve always said that life is about choices, but my thought process became warped when I had my injury. Eventually, I gained hope, which ultimately gave me the strength to keep moving forward. I went on to marry again and have another child. Through all of this, I have learned I needed no help this time around caring for my third child.

What I Learned on My Journey to Independence

group with disabilities from spinal cord injury sharing a beer and playing gamesWhat I have learned the most throughout my self-discovery journey is that there are some really nice people in the world. One of them I married, and the others are my closest friends. I also found that the more I do, the more respect I gain from those who don’t quite understand my disability from my spinal cord injury. However, what they see is a self-sufficient, strong, confident mother of three who happens to be in a wheelchair.

If you or someone you care for has a disability due to a spinal cord injury or any other medical condition, some of the mobility and adaptive equipment and incontinence products we carry may help in everyday life. For more resources, help to find support, and to read other’s stories, the United Spinal Association is a great place to start.

If you have any questions or need more information on the home delivery medical supplies we offer, our Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to assist.

About the Author

Meena Dhanjal Outlaw

On January 23, 2000, Meena suffered a spinal cord injury that left her a T12 paraplegic. She worked hard to grow and push past adversity and challenges and even went back to school for a four-year diploma in writing for teenagers and children.

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Living with a Disability: How Adaptive Equipment Needs Change

woman in a wheelchair typing on the computer

Meena Dhanjal Outlaw suffered a spinal cord injury 20 years ago that left her significantly paralyzed. She has worked hard to push past the challenges she has faced and hopes to inspire others with disabilities. Here, she shares some excellent information regarding living with a disability and some of the adaptive equipment she finds helpful in everyday life.

Living with a disability opens up many questions, especially if our ability to use our legs or arms is affected by completing regular daily tasks.  Yet, living in such a modern-day where technology and new inventions are always becoming available, we can find ourselves realizing adaptive equipment can help us with just about anything.

It can also become overwhelming because, let’s face it, we have many options now. It is essential for you to understand what you are looking at and if this is something that you need now.  In the experience of many that live with a disability, it is quickly determined that your needs change as you progress further into this new way of living.  Therefore, it’s probably not a good idea to purchase too many things, but only what you think will be the most useful to you.  Another thing to consider is where you live. You might live in an apartment, or a smaller house, which presents a problem if you don’t have the space to store your items. Considering the cost factor of adaptive items can vary in price depending on how custom or technical the product is.   That is why it is important to know what is essential and what you might be able to wait on.

If you see a physical or occupational therapist, it is good to ask them what items will be most useful to you.   As you age, your body changes, and therefore your adaptive needs will have to change along with it.  To help you, I have come up with a few items that I think might help you in the meantime.

Mobility Aids

McKesson CaneAdaptive equipment like a wheelchair, walker, cane, or crutches are mobility aids you will need to look at very seriously. It is absolutely in your best interest to go through a Mobility supply company and be evaluated by an adaptive technician. These specialists are trained to fit you correctly by taking measurements so that the item is customized to your specific shape, size, and height. For example, a wheelchair is not a one-size-fits-all piece of equipment. Having it fit your body well allows you to sit with comfort, have fewer chances of getting pressure sores and other skin-related issues. Additionally, it will alleviate any potential for aches and pains from not getting the correct postural support.

Grabber

Carex Grabber Reaching AidA grabber is going to be one of your new favorite pieces of adaptive equipment. You will drop items. Now, you can purchase a foldable grabber. You can carry this reaching aid around with you wherever you go. It might even behoove you to keep one in your home and another one in your car.

Grab Bars

ADJ Drive Steel Bathtub BarPhysical unsteadiness means you need to make sure there are no chances taken to you falling in vulnerable places, such as your bathroom. Good quality grab bars that are installed by a professional will prevent mishaps.  Be very careful when purchasing “quick and easy” grab bars at your local store that work by suction. They are not all equally stable, and you could lose your balance if you need to grab something sturdy so that you don’t fall off your commode or in your shower or bathtub.

Carex Bath Transfer BenchIn the shower, installing the grab bars with one in front of you and one to the side works best.  When thinking about your commode area, think about where you will reach first to stabilize yourself if you were to lose your balance.  For instance, you might find it helpful to have one bar behind your commode and then to the side if you transfer from your wheelchair independently.

Bathtub benches come with handlebars for added support, and shower wheelchairs will offer the same stability level.

Cupholder

If you use a wheelchair or a walker, you will find this item will come in handy, especially if you like hot beverages.  This item will help prevent unnecessary spills that could cause burns on your skin.

Also, having a place to keep your water bottle is just as essential as staying hydrated.

Echo Dot or Google Home Mini

Having ‘Alexa’ by Echo Dot or a Google Home Mini is an excellent addition to helping you. You can program the lights in your home, including lamps, your microwave oven, and your alarm system.  You can even call 911, control your air-conditioning or heating just by using voice commands. This handy little item can help you not have to fiddle with switches at different times, not to mention at different angles.

As a bonus, she can also read you a book or tell you your daily news. You will find this to be a very delightful addition to your accessible needs.

Pedal Exerciser

CanDo Peddle ExerciserIf you’ve gone through any physical rehabilitation, you have already been exposed to various adaptive equipment for exercise.  These items can be very costly, not to mention can take up precious space in your home.

Some insurance companies might cover some of the cost, while others will not cover these types of adaptive equipment at all.

A simple pedal exerciser is an easy way to exercise your upper and lower extremities while in a seated position. You can get your cardio exercises in with his little treadmill for less than $40. For added activity, throw in a couple of 1 to 2-pound dumbbells, and now you’ve got yourself a very accessible and feasible way to exercise at home.  The pedal exerciser is small and can be used on a tabletop if using your hands.  This adaptive equipment can be easily stored in a closet, along with your dumbbells.

Catheter Inserter

MTG Eagle BoardIf you self-catheterize to void your bladder, a catheter inserter is a handy piece of adaptive equipment to keep in your traveling pack, such as your purse or backpack. Sometimes after frequent use of our hands, they tend to cramp, sometimes presenting carpal tunnel syndrome and other rheumatoid type issues. Being prepared with a catheter inserter is another inexpensive aid available at a urological supply company online.

If you are a quadriplegic or have limited hand dexterity, the MTG Eagle Board manufactured by MTG (Medical Technologies of Georgia) can greatly assist with the process of catheterization. This unique piece of equipment has many features that can help male catheter users start to gain back some independence.

Wheelchair Gloves

If you wheel around a lot using your manual chair or use pressure on your hands while pushing your walker, it is good to keep wheelchair gloves in your bag. This item will prevent you from having abrasions, calluses, and other skin issues typically caused by over-usage.

All it can take is a rainy day and a slippery grip to cause an unnecessary loss of balance.  Wheelchair gloves will provide extra friction you will undoubtedly appreciate.

Nighttime Boot Splints and Hand and Wrist Brace

DJO MaxTrax Walker BootTo keep the paralyzed limbs of your body limber, it is essential to incorporate range of motion exercises into your daily routine. Without movement, the affected areas will eventually become stiff and tight.  Wearing boot splints at night will help this immensely and keep your feet and ankles flat and straight in your wheelchair.

ProCare Ambidextrous Elastic Wrist SplintThe hand and wrist brace will give you the same support. After prolonged usage, your hands will begin to feel discomfort if you don’t take care of them. The wrist hand brace is an excellent solution to preventing carpal tunnel syndrome and other rheumatoid symptoms. Hand and wrist braces are excellent pieces of adaptive equipment that could even save you from having surgery.

These are just a few ideas of the various kind of adaptive equipment available to help make life with a disability a little easier. I encourage you to go online to a mobility supply company and a urological supply company to explore the different available options. You will find that there is always a type of adaptive equipment that can fit your budget, size, and needs quite comfortably.

About the Author

Meena Dhanjal Outlaw

On January 23, 2000, Meena suffered a spinal cord injury that left her a T12 paraplegic. She worked hard to grow and push past adversity and challenges and even went back to school for a four-year diploma in writing for teenagers and children.

Since then, she has begun writing memoirs, blogs, and a book series featuring a young girl named Mattie who is in a wheelchair. She has been featured in magazines, fashion shows, radio shows, and local news to speak about her life as a disabled woman, wife, and mother. Through her work, she hopes to inspire others with disabilities.

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Urinary Incontinence and Thought Control

woman in glasses looking out the window in deep thought

There is a common belief that when one is attempting to relieve themselves but cannot, they should think of running water. The thought is that the sounds of a waterfall or river will help your body begin to urinate. If this is true, should people suffering from urinary incontinence avoid specific thoughts to help prevent unexpected urination?

What is Incontinence?

Incontinence is defined as a loss of bladder control and the inability to control urination. Though this definition is all-encompassing, there are many different types of urinary incontinence.

Different Types of Incontinence

Stress incontinence: A leak in urine due to movement or activity such as laughing, sneezing, running, or lifting. 

Urge incontinence: A form of incontinence that happens after a strong, sudden urge to urinate that someone is unable to delay. 

Overflow incontinence: Incontinence that occurs when a weak bladder is past full. While the person often feels no need to urinate, they can begin leaking urine.  

Functional incontinence: A type of incontinence that is defined by a person aware they need to urinate, but because of a physical or mental disability, they are unable to reach the bathroom. 

Mixed incontinence: As the name suggests, mixed incontinence is usually a combination of two other forms of incontinence. Most often, mixed incontinence is a combination of stress and urge incontinence.

Not all these types of incontinence have the same causes or can be treated with the same medications. With that in mind, studies on all forms of incontinence have shown no correlation between incontinence being triggered by specific thoughts. However, one mental effect of urinary incontinence that influences all these groups is its toll on mental health.

Urinary Incontinence and Mental Health

Studies show that those who suffer from urinary incontinence are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Frequently, those dealing with incontinence can also experience shame and a drop in self-confidence due to their condition. Urinary incontinence can make it difficult to go to social outings or stressful to be away from your home for extended periods. People who once held very social lives will often reject attending social gatherings for fear of having an accident at a public event. This behavior can take a toll on mental health, and it is crucial to seek help from a mental health professional counselor.

At Personally Delivered, we know the difficulties those dealing with urinary incontinence face. Not only daily stress but also the feeling that you can’t participate in all of the activities you love. With our array of catheter supplies, protective underwear, liners, and pads, we hope to give you back a sense of normalcy and self-confidence. 

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Urinary Incontinence and Mental Health

woman sitting indian style in the park on a blanket in a meditation pose

Mental health is essential at every stage of life and affects how we think, feel, and act because it includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Trying to manage a urinary incontinence condition can leave one feeling mentally exhausted. Experiencing a urinary incontinence accident in public can be highly embarrassing and potentially lead to psychological consequences.

The Basics About Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is also referred to as bladder leakage and is a more common condition that most often comes with age. The involuntary loss of urine is not a disease itself but rather a symptom of another underlying condition.

There are three types of urinary incontinence:

  1. Stress incontinence occurs when urine leaks happen when you cough, sneeze, jump, or laugh, due to weakened pelvic floor muscles.
  2. Urge incontinence, also called overactive bladder, typically occurs in older men and women. When the bladder muscles weaken or its urine-holding capacity decreases, the bladder uncontrollably contracts, causing an intense urge to urinate, resulting in leaks.
  3. Mixed incontinence is a combination of both urge and stress incontinence.

Common underlying conditions that cause urinary incontinence:

  1. Pregnancy can cause hormonal changes, and the additional weight on the bladder can lead to stress incontinence.
  2. Aging of the bladder muscle can decrease its capacity to hold urine.
  3. An enlarged prostate gland can cause the bladder muscle to malfunction and lead to urge incontinence.
  4. A hysterectomy involves removing the uterus, which may damage the supporting pelvic floor muscles, leading to urinary incontinence. 
  5. Neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple sclerosis, a spinal cord injury, or a stroke can cause interference with the nervous system and throw nerve signals involved in bladder control out of whack, causing urinary incontinence.

The Importance of Mental Health and Wellness

woman standing next to a tree with purple flowers breathing in the fresh airMental health is essential to living a healthy, balanced life and determines how we handle our lives’ stressors. It also impacts the relationships we form with others and the choices and decisions we make daily. Our thinking, mood, and behaviors can be affected throughout our lives if we experience mental health problems. Being emotionally healthy can help promote productivity and effectiveness in activities like work or caregiving.

The Connection Between Urinary Incontinence and Mental Health

Because urinary incontinence can feel embarrassing for some, it can often lead to depression and anxiety. On the flip side, if you are suffering from depression and anxiety, your urinary incontinence could be the precursor to urinary incontinence. 

Those who suffer from urinary incontinence might experience a considerable impact on their dignity and self-confidence. The physical discomfort and psychological effects can lead to isolation to avoid possible embarrassment in social situations. Outings, parties, and other regular social activities that were once enjoyed may become challenging to handle for fear of having an accident in public. The greater the urinary incontinence condition is can likely contribute to a greater degree of depression.

Signs of a Mental Health Concern

If you or someone you know are struggling with a urinary incontinence condition, there are some signs to watch out for that may suggest you need some professional guidance. Remember, good mental health is essential for your entire mind and body to function at its optimal level.

woman experiencing stress while looking in the mirrorSome signs of mental health issues are:

  • Overly tired with low energy
  • Sleeping problems
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Missed work or appointments
  • Decreased enjoyment of life
  • Inability to think or concentrate
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Notable changes in eating habits
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Mental illness can be temporary or last a long time but is critical to address. It is essential to pay attention to any of these changes and contact your doctor or therapist for treatment. If you or anyone you know have displayed suicidal thoughts or behaviors, get help right away. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use the chat function at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat

At-Home Treatment for Urinary Incontinence

As we mentioned earlier, urinary incontinence can be caused by various factors such as pregnancy, an enlarged prostate, or a neurological condition, to name a few. However, there are ways to manage urinary incontinence right from your own home.

  • Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor exercises, can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. When the pelvic floor muscles are in shape, the uterus and bladder are appropriately supported to prevent accidental urinary leaks.
  • Diet plays a role in the severity of a urinary incontinence condition. A poor diet lacking proper nutrients can lead to an aggravated urinary tract. Avoiding foods and beverages like caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and some spicy foods may improve your symptoms. And remember to drink plenty of water to flush your system.
  • Bladder training can help lengthen the time between trips to the restroom until you are only urinating every 2-4 hours. Keeping a bladder journal is a helpful tool that can help you and your doctor better understand your condition.
  • assortment of incontinence padsUrinary incontinence products help manage your condition no matter how much absorbency you require. There are various urinary incontinence products available for light, moderate, and maximum absorbencies and different styles for activity types. You can learn more and read in-depth information about incontinence pads, absorbency levels, styles, and even how to choose the correct size and fit on our All About Incontinence Pads blog post.

Good mental health is essential for us to be balanced emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Urinary incontinence, combined with poor mental health, is worse than either condition alone. It is imperative to treat both of these conditions as early as possible to avoid a significant impact on your health and quality of life.

For any questions related to the incontinence products we carry or for more information related to urinary incontinence, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to help. For more serious concerns related to the signs of poor mental health we outlined above, immediately contact your doctor or therapist.

Urinary Incontinence Products

Abena Abri-Flex Premium Pull-On Protective Underwear (L2)

Abena Abri-Flex Premium Protective Underwear

Depend Guards for Men

Depend Guards for Men

Attends Shaped Day Pads Day Plus

Attends Shaped Pads Day Plus

First Quality Incognito Maxi Feminine Pads

First Quality Incognito Maxi Feminine Pad
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The Challenges of Caregiving

Doctor speaking to her patient on a couch and offering reassurance

As the population ages, caregiving is being provided more and more by people other than healthcare professionals such as family members or other close friends. Often, these family members or friends do not refer to themselves as a formal “caregiver” and therefore do not think about the support they also need in this role.

A lot of time and energy goes into caregiving, which may lead to a caregiver to neglect their own needs. Making time for self-care can be a challenge for many caregivers. If you are a caregiver, it is essential to preserve your health and well-being. Caring for a loved one can put a strain on even the most resilient people.

A Caregiver Defined

elderly woman looking off in the distance next to a sign that says 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer'sA caregiver is someone who provides basic care to someone that has a chronic medical condition, an illness that lasts for a long time or doesn’t go away.

Examples of some chronic conditions include:

  • Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia
  • Any cancer
  • Arthritis
  • The after-effects of a stroke or injury
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Diabetes

The caregiver helps the person with many tasks such as meal preparation, eating, shopping, cleaning, administering medicine, bathing, and dressing. Above all, two of the most important things a caregiver provides is companionship and emotional support.

Being a Caregiver Can Be Rewarding Yet Also Stressful

Many caregivers are friends or family members of the person who needs care. Some grown adults feel an innate responsibility to care for their aging parents and often cherish this time as a caregiver. Their parent provided for them, and now this is their opportunity to return the blessing. It can bring a sense of joy and fulfillment, yet it can also pose significant challenges.

But a shift in roles and emotions is almost certain. It is natural to feel exhausted, frustrated, angry, or alone. The emotional and physical stress of caregiving is common and referred to as caregiver stress.

People who experience caregiver stress can be vulnerable to changes in their own health. Risk factors for caregiver stress include:

  • Living with the person you are caring for
  • A higher number of hours spent caregiving
  • Lack of choice in being a caregiver
  • Having fewer years of formal education
  • Social isolation
  • Having depression
  • Financial difficulties
  • Lack of coping skills

Caring for a loved one who is seriously ill is never easy. You are often “on-call” almost all the time and feel your own free time is gone. It may be hard for you to juggle the different parts of your life, such as work, chores, and caring for the ill person.

Caregiving is also hard because you will be the one that sees changes in your loved one and find it difficult to see them the same way you did before they became ill. For example, if you are the caregiver for someone that develops Alzheimer’s, they may not recognize you at times, develop behavioral problems, or begin to suffer from incontinence. Alzheimer’s and incontinence can add an additional level of caregiving that can be very difficult to manage.

Common Signs of Caregiver Stress

stressed male sitting on a couch holding hands near faceWhen negative feelings start to take over and begin to disrupt your life, your health could suffer. Issues like depression, anxiety, and stress overload can take a toll on one’s health. A caregiver may not realize that their own health and well-being are being compromised because they are so caught up in caring for their loved one.

Signs of caregiver stress include:

  • Feeling overwhelmed or helpless
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Getting too much sleep or not enough sleep
  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Social withdrawal
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Feeling sad
  • Having frequent headaches, bodily pain, or other physical problems
  • Unhealthy behaviors such as abusing alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications

Too much stress over a long period as a caregiver can harm your health, which increases your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes. If you think you are suffering from caregiver stress, call your doctor. They can help you manage your feelings and stress with various tools such as stress management techniques, counseling, or medicine.

Tips for Dealing With Caregiver Stress

Caregiving can be stressful, complicated, and time-consuming, so it is vital to take advantage of the many resources and tools available to help you provide care for your loved one. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for anyone else.

Some ways to help manage caregiver stress include:

  • Accept help. If a friend offers to take the person you care for on a walk a couple of times a week, run an errand for you, or cook, take them up on it.
  • Believe you are doing your best.  No one is perfect and it is ok to feel guilty sometimes. Focus on knowing that you are doing the best you can and making the best decisions you are able to.
  • Set realistic goals. Make lists and a daily routine. By breaking up large tasks into smaller ones, you will feel a better sense of accomplishment.
  • Look for resources. Many communities have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing or offer caregiving services such as transportation and meal delivery.
  • Join a support group. People in support groups understand what you may be going through and can provide validation and encouragement. Friendships can also be created in support groups that can provide meaningful connections when you may be feeling alone.
  • stethoscope and pen sitting on a medical chartPractice self-care. Find time for physical activity, eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids, and set goals for a good sleep routine. Many caregivers have issues with sleeping and not getting quality sleep over a long period can lead to health issues.
  • Schedule your routine doctor visits. It is essential to get recommended vaccinations and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you’re a caregiver and don’t hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you have. No one should ever have to suffer in silence.

If you are a caregiver and are struggling to manage incontinence for your loved one, we want to help make life a bit easier for you. Our wide selection of absorbent incontinence products are sure to help you and your loved one enjoy more out of each day and sleep better all through the night. With fewer product changes, less laundry, and more uninterrupted nights, you’ll have more time and energy for other caregiving activities or even your own wellness and personal care.

If you want to learn more about our adult incontinence products, need advice on what products to try, or have questions about incontinence, our Personally Delivered Incontinence Product Experts are just a phone call away.

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Caregivers During a Pandemic: Can COVID-19 Spread Through Urine?

two people holding hands for comfort

We are at a point in the coronavirus pandemic where every American has been impacted in some way. With no clear end in sight, it is important that everyone looks at their circumstances and protects themselves and their families as best as they can. Personally Delivered works to provide caregivers all the products they need to offer the best care possible. It is vital that during the coronavirus pandemic caregivers take extra precautions as they are at a higher risk of infection than most people. There is an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 because they need to come in close contact with the person they care for. Many caregivers are also curious if their risk level is higher due to contact they may have with the bodily secretions of the person they care for.

Be Prepared to Protect Yourself and Others

If you or someone you love is taking care of someone with fecal or urinary incontinence, it’s important to understand the steps to protect the caregiver and the person they are providing care for during these uncertain times. With new data coming out at a rapid rate, medical experts agree that the highest likelihood of COVID-19 transmission remains through airborne droplets via coughing, sneezing, or breathing. Most experts agree that transmission risk is low through urine or the stool but it is still something that should be avoided. In addition to the purchase of typical incontinence supplies, it is important to be stocked up with disposable gloves, which can be changed after each contact with a vulnerable person. A collage of incontinence products Personally Delivered offers that caregivers tend to use with their patients

Pay Attention to Mental Health

A female caregiver speaking and listening with an elderly woman as they sit on a couchIn addition to caring for the physical needs of a person with incontinence during the pandemic, it’s vital that caregivers pay close attention to the mental health of a vulnerable person. A person who knows they are at a higher risk is more likely to experience anxiety and fear throughout the pandemic. The best thing a person can do is keep the lines of communication open and ensure that the person always has all the incontinence supplies they should need readily available.

Watch Stress Levels Associated With Incontinence

Additional stress can lead to more severe issues with incontinence. Many people with overactive bladder syndrome also suffer from some form of anxiety. It is pivotal that caregivers take the mental health of the person they care for as seriously as the physical. Ultimately, the most important thing a caregiver can do for the person they care for is to ensure that they are taking every precaution to avoid infection in their own lives. Once a person takes care of themselves, they can work on providing the best care possible to others.

If you are a caregiver and have any questions related to the incontinence supplies we offer to help protect you and the person you are providing care for during these uncertain times, our Personally Delivered Product Experts are just a phone call away and ready to help.

We care about you, your safety, and your health during this questionable and concerning time. That is why we make it easy for you to shop online with us and avoid the stores. Make sure you check out our Automatic Delivery Program and never worry about running out of your home delivery medical supplies again!

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Staying Optimistic During Hard Times

asian woman sitting on the floor holding a sign that portrays staying optimistic.

Staying optimistic can be very difficult when times are tough right now during the COVID-19 pandemic. You may have just lost your job, your home, or even worse, a loved one. Are you worried about your health? Do you feel helpless or defeated? There is so much news being pushed on us each and every day and that can make it hard for us to see the silver lining in any of it. Whatever you are facing, optimism seems as if it is something that is not possible to keep during this time in our world.

Even when the present moment feels as if everything is completely falling apart, being hopeful about the future is what being optimistic is all about. Optimism doesn’t mean that we should hide our negative emotions and just sweep them under the rug. It means that we need to be more attentive to both our negative and positive emotions in order to be able to move beyond the stress and uncomfortableness of the times. It can be a tool of sorts to deal with the uncertainty and anxiety we are all feeling.

Practice Self-Compassion

Stop being so hard on yourself! Our worth is unconditional. We cannot control everything that happens in our lives or in our world. In stressful times, it is important to be kind to ourselves not only for our physical health but our mental health as well. This can help with lessening our anxiety, stress, and depression.

Remember that we are all going through these trying times of the Coronavirus together. Nobody is facing this alone. Self-compassion is about being kind to ourselves while realizing that all of us are just doing our best to navigate through these crazy times together.

Woman outside breathing in the fresh air and practicing staying optimistic.Practicing mindfulness is part of having self-compassion. Mindfulness is allowing yourself to be aware of your emotions, thoughts, and feelings and accepting them for what they are in that very present moment. It does not involve dwelling about the past or spending time imaging about the future. Make every minute count. If you are spending time with your children, really get engaged and listen. If you are outside taking a walk, really try to enjoy all of the sights and smells in the air. Sometimes it is hard to slow down and take note of all the little things we take for granted each day.

Seek Pleasure in The Small Things

Lean in! During this time of social distancing and quarantine, it may seem as though there are fewer and fewer options on how we spend our days. Really take the time to enjoy the everyday activities that were just part of our daily routines we went on mindlessly about prior to now. The otherwise ordinary activities like making your morning coffee, walking the dog, or helping your child with their homework can be a welcome distraction from the flow of bad news.

Do you ever look back at pictures of moments in the past and smile, laugh, or get a sense of “feeling” that very moment again? Well, let’s take the time to really appreciate each moment now as we try to stay optimistic. We may look back and wish we would have enjoyed these moments just a little bit more.

Give Back Within Your Community

You can support your local businesses during the Coronavirus by buying gift cards from them for future meals when times get better and we can share meals together. You can also help by ordering takeout meals from them in the meantime.

You can also send money to a cause or non-profit you believe in. Giving can make you feel good, which in turn helps the organization and gives a boost to your mental and physical health. We are all trying to make the world a better place and by giving, we are bringing about positive change.

Man typing on a computer performing a search.Giving back within your community can also be as simple as practicing random acts of kindness that don’t have to be monetary. Send an email to a family member or friend to just show some appreciation. Leave thoughtful comments on a friend’s social media account. Put a note in your mailbox for your mailman to discover thanking him or her for delivering important mail and being out and about during the Coronavirus. Everyone benefits from acts of kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness.

Check-in with your neighbors while keeping a safe distance can help make them feel special and make you feel good at the same time. Remember, we are in this pandemic together and when we show that we care for other’s wellbeing, we are reminded that there are other people that may be more stressed than ourselves.

Exercise, Eat, and Sleep Well

This one is very obvious, of course, but these basic habits all have a huge effect if they are not correctly managed. Now that we are all basically confined to our homes, we may be snacking more, staying up later to watch one more episode of our current favorite mini-series, or putting off getting in a good workout since the gyms are still closed. Not sticking to a good diet, not getting a good night’s rest, and not exercising can really impact one’s thoughts and tensions on the inside.Man stretching his legs on bridge to get ready to take care of his physical well-being.

Get moving, take a walk, breathe some fresh air, and be mindful of what you are putting in your body. Turn the television off at a specific time each night and stick to a plan. You will thank yourself later when you aren’t trying to lose that weight you may have put on not taking care of yourself and your mind.

Take Inventory at the End of Each Day

At the end of each day, acknowledge something positive that you accomplished or are grateful for. When we think about things that made us smile, laugh, or be productive throughout the day, it helps squash the pessimism or negativity we absorbed surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. This behavior can help remind us that not everything that’s happening right now is depressing or unmanageable. Staying optimistic can be challenging, but we can all help each other in small ways that can make a big difference.

And just as equally important, we at Personally Delivered are here if you need us and just a phone call away! Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay connected.

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