Adult Incontinence Care

Anyone can develop incontinence — the loss of bladder or bowel control causing leakage — although certain groups are at higher risk. But it’s a myth that incontinence is an expected part of growing older. Incontinence isn’t normal; it reflects an underlying problem. Incontinence is a symptom, not a disease.  What is true is that the odds of needing adult incontinence care increase with age. There are several reasons for this:

  • With aging, there is more wear-and-tear on the muscles and other tissues involved with urination and elimination, causing them to weaken and lessening their control.
  • Older women are more likely to have a history of pelvic floor disorders as a result of childbirth or the hormonal changes of menopause.
  • Older men are more likely to have prostate problems, such as an enlarged prostate, which can block urine flow.
  • Increasing age makes one more likely to have had surgeries, such as a hysterectomy or colorectal surgery that affects the relevant structures.

Women over age 40 are the most likely group to have problems requiring adult incontinence care. (But younger women and men of all ages can be incontinent, too.) Groups at higher risk include:

  • The overweight and obese (extra weight adds pressure to the abdomen).
  • Diabetics (who may lose the sensation of a full bladder).
  • People with arthritis (who may have difficulty getting to the bathroom in time).
  • People with multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease (because of damage to the nerves that control the bladder).
  • Men with prostate problems.

Keep in mind that all of our muscles weaken and loose endurance with age. It is a natural process, however, we can blunt these natural effects with appropriate strengthening exercises. Just as resistance training can help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, specific strengthening exercises and postural modifications can help resolve or control the symptoms of incontinence. There is no side effect to exercise.  Consider visiting a physical therapist in your area to teach you the appropriate exercises and posture for better control. If you are uncomfortable or unable to go for regular PT visits then you can search for physical therapy guided pelvic floor strengthening products such as books and DVDs online.

In trying to help and adult with incontinence care, the most recommended approach is through the person’s doctor. When the suggestion to use incontinence products comes from their doctor, you avoid getting into a battle of wills or an argument — or being seen as the “bad guy.” Besides, it’s smart to link the discussion to a doctor’s visit, because for both incontinence in older women and incontinence in older men, there are many medical causes that can be treated and cured.

You want to be empathetic but not shy when discussing incontinence products — even if you find the topic embarrassing or are worried about invading the other person’s privacy or dignity. Jump in: “I know this is hard to talk about, Mom, but I have these new panties the doctor told us about. They’re made of absorbent material, so if you do have another accident, it won’t be a problem. Nobody will know, and later you can change it.” If you’re embarrassed, admit it (but do so with sensitivity): “I feel weird talking about this, too, but apparently it’s a pretty common situation.”

Also, realize that urinary incontinence is often secondary to some other problem. And I agree, pelvic floor rehab is the way to go before trying drugs or surgery. You may need to find a Continence Nurse Specialist who can walk you through a full program, including dietary modification for a more bladder friendly diet.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted March 17, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    More information on incontinence, symptoms, therapies and treatments can be found at http://www.nafc.org. The National Association for Continence is the world’s largest and most prolific consumer advocacy organization dedicated to public education and awareness about bladder and bowel control problems, voiding dysfunction including retention, nocturia and bedwetting, and pelvic floor disorders such as prolapse.

  2. incontinence product
    Posted September 13, 2011 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    Knowing the right incontinence product is very helpful to an elder’s health care.

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