PLM writes that her 15 year old son is feeling hopeless about his nightly bedwetting. She bought him a vibrating pager alarm last year but he found it uncomfortable and refused to use it after the first couple weeks. It didn’t work for him because he must have taken it out of his underwear in his sleep. She reports that in the morning the pager bedwetting alarm would be on the floor and he was soaked. He also tried bedwetting medication and the maximum dose made no difference. He feels like he will be wetting forever. What can they do?
PLM, first of all, reassure your son that there are still effective options available. Because children and teens with bedwetting usually sleep very soundly through the bedwetting episode, it usually takes more than a discreet vibration to alert them that wetting is taking place. Parental assistance is important, even at this age. Pager alarms, which vibrate only, do not allow the parents to be alerted to provide the necessary assistance. The only way for a parent to know that the wetting is occurring is for them to hear a sound. Once you hear the sound, go to your son’s room and remind him what he should do next. Remind your son that he needs to get up and walk to the bathroom, especially if you notice he is trying to roll over and go back to sleep. Be persistent. Over time, his brain will make the association that he needs to respond to this sound and get up to go to the bathroom. He will become more independent and stop the flow of urine more quickly as time goes on. The average time it takes to get to dryness is 10-12 weeks so make sure he has realistic goals. Committing to using the alarm for this long is important to his success but the results are well worth the effort that it takes initially. I have personally seen hundreds of hopeless teens get to dryness using a bedwetting alarm that works well for them.
My alarm pick for this age group is the Rodger wireless, which sounds from a unit plugged into the wall. The user has to get out of bed and walk over to the wall to turn it off once it has sensed the moisture. Once he or she is out of bed, they should just head into the bathroom. The Malem wireless is another option. The receiver can be placed anywhere in the room since it is battery powered. It isn’t quite as loud as the Rodger alarm, however. The Selectable Malem Ultimate is a third option. This alarm provides sound and vibration both and allows the user to choose the ring tone that alerts them best.