Incontinence and the Holidays

Jasmine Schmidt Health Guide
  • The holiday season is quickly approaching. For many, the holidays mean happy memories, yummy smells, and warm conversation with family. For someone with incontinence, although holidays can be wonderful, they can also be a struggle.

    In this case, the holidays can mean difficulty traveling, the challenge of shopping for gifts, and fear of embarrassing situations. When the thought of facing the holidays this year with incontinence becomes overwhelming, stop, take a deep breath, and remind yourself how fortunate you are to be experiencing this challenge at this point in history: after all, never before has there been as many treatment and management options as there are today.
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    It’s always wonderful to reconnect with family during the holidays, but this often means traveling to do so. Traveling, whether by train, plane, or automobile, can be difficult, to say the least, with incontinence. If you’re nervous about traveling this holiday season, you might want to read my blog about traveling with incontinence. If traveling is a particular struggle for you, consider asking your family to come to you this year. If travel is a must, then plan, plan, plan to make it easier. Go by my favorite motto, “Plan for the worst, hope for the best.”

    It’s not only the travel to visit family that can be a challenge during the holidays, but also being out of the house doing gift or food shopping during the holiday season can be difficult. If you have a hard time going to malls where you are far from a restroom, search for an easier way to cope with shopping.

    One solution is online shopping, which you can do from the comfort of your own home. To alleviate the threat of online identity theft (when someone steals your credit card information), use the websites of large, reputable stores that have actual storefronts you’ve visited before. Avoid buying from companies you only found online as it’s possible they could be a scam. If you’re hosting family for a meal, you can use peapod.com to do online grocery shopping.

    While online shopping can be a convenient option, many people understandably want the experience of going to a physical store. Luckily there seem to be more and more strip malls appearing and fewer and fewer large indoor shopping malls. Use these strip malls to your advantage, where you can park right in front of the specific store you want. I’m a huge advocate of stores providing restrooms as a matter of good customer service. You might consider calling the stores you plan to visit ahead of time to inquire if they have public restrooms. If not, cross that store off of your list and find one that values your business enough to open up their bathrooms to you (because they definitely do have them).

    Facing potentially embarrassing situations might be the most challenging part of the holidays for someone with incontinence. Keep in mind that 33 million other Americans also have incontinence, so you are not alone, not by a long shot! In fact, it’s quite possible that another family member gathered around the table with you might also have incontinence. Embarrassment is a part of life, so my blunt advice is to embrace it. While you can sometimes feel as if you’re dying in the midst of an embarrassment, what would be truly tragic is missing an event you want to be at because you’re afraid of that situation.

  • Finally, consider giving yourself a special gift this holiday season. There are many, many options out there for treating incontinence. If your incontinence cannot be treated, then there are many ways to manage it. If you haven’t researched treatment and management options, make this the year you do it. Just think – by this time next year you could be free to focus on decorating and baking and family visits instead of incontinence. Have a great Thanksgiving – and don’t forget to be grateful for your health, and your options.
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  • Talk about incontinence and holidays in the message boards.



  • Read our guide to traveling with incontinence.
Published On: November 22, 2006