Question: Seeking Assistance Options for an Elderly Ostomate with Parkinson’s

My father, who is in his 70s and has lived with an ileostomy for the last 40 years, is now facing challenges due to Parkinson’s disease. His condition has significantly affected his hand dexterity, making it difficult for him to manage his ostomy care independently. What assistance options or newer appliance systems might be available to ease this process for him?

Response: Navigating Care Options for Elderly Ostomates with Disabilities

Caring for an elderly family member with disabilities like Parkinson’s can be challenging, especially when they have been independent in managing their ileostomy. It’s important to explore all available options to ensure they receive appropriate assistance while maintaining some level of autonomy. Here are a few steps to consider:

  1. Homecare Referral: You can either self-refer or get a physician referral for homecare services. Although homecare is usually offered for a limited period, it aims to:
    • Identify an ostomy appliance system that is suitable for the client.
    • Develop a manageable routine for ostomy care.
    • Train family members to support the client effectively, ensuring the client retains some independence.
  2. Occupational Therapy: Consulting with an occupational therapist can provide valuable insights into adaptive techniques and tools that can assist your father in managing his ostomy care despite his limited dexterity.
  3. One-Piece Ostomy Systems: Depending on the shape and size of the ostomy, one-piece systems might be easier for your father to handle. These systems are generally simpler to apply and remove, which could be beneficial given his condition.
  4. Assertiveness with Homecare: It’s crucial to be assertive when communicating with homecare services to ensure your father’s specific needs are met and appropriate support is provided.

These options should be explored to find the best solution for your father’s unique situation. Remember, the goal is to find a balance between providing necessary support and preserving his independence as much as possible.

Karen Bruton, RN BScN MCISc-WH WOCC(C)
Nurse Education Consultant – Interprofessional Practice Support
Indigenous Services Canada, Government of Canada
Ostomy Canada (Volunteer)
Medical and Lifestyle Advisory Team Lead


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