Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine or fasces and may be transient or chronic. It is crucial to note that more than 90% of patients with incontinence, who are admitted in hospitals including the elderly, develop a for skin breakdown (Fung, 2007, 447). The skin is an important organ in our body because it prevents the human body against external factors. The urinary or fecal incontinence is a risk factor for breaking down the skin, which hinders it from playing its role. It is crucial to note that there are several factors such as age that hinder the skin from plating its role as a natural barrier (Fung, 2007, 448). The Skin’s integrity is usually challenged when one ages, because there is a decrease in production of the natural protective oils and thinning of the subcutaneous layer, which puts the elderly at a higher risk of skin break down in incontinence. According to Gray, she believes that, “increased skin breakdown related to incontinence changes the body’s pH, increases friction, and moisture contribute to the skin being infected with microorganisms (Gray, 2005, p. 135). This paper aims at answering the question: Are incontinence elderly who wear diapers at increase risk for breakdown compared with elderly patients without incontinence? Also the paper will discuss factors that enhance skin breakdown through comparing elderly patients who have incontinence to those who do not.
Incontinence problem is significant in the field of nursing because a lot of people in nursing homes are mainly affected by skin breakdown. Nursing home residents comprise of the elderly who may have developed dementia and also people with impairments and require a nurse’s help and support in order to live a healthy life (Smith, 2000, p.94). Nurses can assist the patients by having a schedule or program that shows when to take the patients to the bathroom. This will decrease the chances of skin breakdown that may affect the health of the individual. It is also crucial for nurses to investigate the cause of incontinences for each individual patient to evaluate if one can be treated or how it can be prevented (Gray, 2005, p.138). In addition, nurses can also re-examine the patient’s medications because they may contribute to the incontinence. It is also important for the nurse to take measures that will reduce skin breakdown such as an immediate wash after an incident of incontinent and also using barrier moisture ointments.
Prolonged moisture fuels skin breakdown because it contributes to changing the skin’s pH and provides a good hub for bacterial growth (Gray, 2005, p. 133). Given that the elderly patients with incontinence wear diapers, they have a huge risk to skin breakdown. Diapers trap moisture which is a prime factor in skin breakdown in that moisture destroys the epidermis and increases friction that damages the skin. In addition, urinary or fecal incontinence changes the skin pH, which contributes to destruction of the skin. On the other hand, elderly patients without incontinence do not have to wear a diaper, which ensures that the skin is well-ventilated and free from any bacterial infections arising from decal and urinary incontinence (Fung, 2007, p.444). Thus, it is clear that the elderly people who have an involuntary incontinence are at a higher risk of getting skin breakdown compared to those that do not have to wear diapers.
In conclusion, it is clear that skin breakdown is mainly common to the elderly who wear diapers because of incontinence. This is because the fecal and urinary incontinence occurs among elderly patients and people who are mentally or physically impaired. In addition, the nursing homes are mainly affected by the incontinence problem because elderly patients may have dementia or other age problems and the fact that impaired patients lack the ability to go to the bathroom. Thus, elderly patients who do not have incontinence can have a minimal chance of skin breakdown because they can go to the bathroom and take care of themselves. It is also crucial to note that nurses should assess the patients to know those that have incontinence as a way of ensuring those with involuntary incontinence are well taken care of to reduce chances of skin breakdown.
Fung, C.H., Spencer, B., Eslami, M., & Crandall, C. (2007). Quality indicators for the screening and care of urinary incontinence in vulnerable elders. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 55(Suppl 2), S443-S449. Evidence Level I.
Gray, M. (2005). Assessment and management of urinary incontinence. The Nurse Practitioner, 30(7), 132–141. Evidence Level VI: Journal Article.
Smith, D. A. (2000). Urge incontinence. In D. B. Dougherty (Ed.), Urinary & Fecal Incontinence Nursing Management (2nd ed., pp. 91–104). Mosby, MO: St. Louis. Evidence Level VI: Expert Opinion.