Bed Wetting Alarms - What Is It and How is It Used?

Bed wetting or Nocturnal enuresis may be an extremely sensitive topic regardless of age. However, there are times when the topic needs to be discussed.

If you're taking care of an elderly loved one who has incontinence issues and can't get through the night without bed wetting, a bed wetting alarm may help you provide better care, preserve the integrity of your loved one's skin, and help them maintain their independence and dignity. A bed wetting alarm is often a first step in treating and addressing nighttime bed wetting as an alternative to prescription medications.

Bed Wetting Basics

Individuals taking medications, those who are elderly and unable to move quickly, or those diagnosed with a variety of medical conditions may be more prone to bed wetting or urinary incontinence than others may. The medical term for bed wetting is enuresis, nocturnal enuresis, or NE.

The most common medical conditions that can contribute to nocturnal enuresis include:

·         Diabetes

·         Prostate cancer or enlargement

·         Obstructive sleep apnea

·         Bladder cancer

·         Urinary tract infections (UTI)

·         Urinary tract stones

·         Pelvic organ prolapse (in women)

A number of neurological disorders may also contribute to bed wetting in senior adults, including Alzheimer's, other forms of dementia, Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease.

Recent studies by the Journal of Age and Aging states that roughly to 2% of seniors 75 years old or older and still living at home have either occasional or chronic bouts of nocturnal enuresis.

The aging bladder is, without training and exercise, less capable of retaining large amounts of fluid. Weak muscle tone around the urethra may not be able to retain urine as effectively as strong and exercised pelvic floor muscles.

Bed Wetting Alarms

Bed wetting alarms can help preserve the dignity, confidence, and independence of elderly adults. Bed wetting is not only embarrassing, but also extremely inconvenient. The necessity of changing bedclothes, sheets and bathing may interrupt your loved one's sleep, and yours. Repeated bed wetting incidents may have long-term effects on the mood, personality and physical and emotional health and well-being of your loved one.

Very effective treatment methodologies for seniors whose bed wetting are not caused by physical abnormalities or malfunctions in the urinary tract system are the use of bed wetting alarm devices. A device will emit a sound or vibration as soon as moisture or wetness is detected. Some alarms may vibrate and emit sound at the same time while others offer one or the other.

Alarms worn in underclothing or on top of protective pads are connected to small battery-operated device that are triggered to go off when moisture is detected.  The devices can be worn on the body and are often activated by as little as two drops of fluid. Alarms average around $60 to $80 and can be purchased through medical supply stores, pharmacies, or over the Internet.

How the Alarm Works

Either the vibrating or the sound alarm wakes the person when any degree of wetness is registered on a pad placed on top of bedding or that's worn in clothing. Wetness detection devices can also be attached to the senior's underwear, depending on make and model. Upon awakening, seniors are more likely to be able to stop the flow of urine long enough to get to the bedside commode or bathroom.

The focus of using an alarm is to gradually train the senior to recognize the signs of a full bladder before a bed wetting incident occurs. This may take several weeks for some, but with determination, compassion and commitment, bladder volume and bladder training during both daytime and nighttime hours can be improved.

Bed wetting alarms have proven effective in individuals who don't have more than one or two wakening episodes a night. Bed wetting alarm systems also help seniors become more aware of their need to exercise pelvic floor muscles, reduce the amount of fluids before bedtime, and to engage in toileting just prior to bed time.

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