In life, there are things we just wish we never had to discuss. Medical issues, finances and uncomfortable topics such as incontinence. But did you know that over 75% of women over 65 have incontinence issues? And it’s not just the girls! In general, more than 50% of older adults struggle with incontinence.

Until we begin to discuss some of these “awkward” topics, those of us who are challenged by this will continue to suffer in silence. With so many adults experiencing this problem, what are some of the causes and more importantly, what can be done about it?

What is incontinence?

It is defined as the loss of control of the bladder or bowels resulting in leakage of urine or feces. According to WebMD, “Bladder and bowel incontinence is a highly prevalent disease that has emotional, health, social and economic impacts in the daily life of our elderly population in the U.S.,” said Dr. Farzeen Firoozi, a urologist at North Shore-LIJ Health System in Manhasset, N.Y.”

Because it is the more common of the two, below we’ll be discussing urinary incontinence.

What are the types of urinary incontinence?

Overactive Bladder

Overactive bladder is a regular sense that you need to urinate, but don’t actually have to go. This occurs when there are physical issues that cause the muscles to contract, indicating a need to go (even if there is little to nothing in the bladder).

Stress Incontinence

This happens when the muscles around the bladder become physically strained and don’t retain control. It is most commonly found in women, due to pregnancy and childbirth. Obese patients also have a higher rate as excess weight can place additional strain on the bladder and surrounding muscles.

Overflow Incontinence

On occasion, the body makes more urine than the bladder can house, or if the bladder has a difficult time releasing urine, then becomes overfull. The bladder muscle may not squeeze properly and is most often found in men with possible prostate issues.

Functional Incontinence

Functional incontinence is when the individual is not able to make it to the restroom in time to go. It is most commonly seen with Alzheimer’s or Dementia patients.

Causes of urinary incontinence

Because there are different types of incontinence, the causes can vary. The most commonly seen cause is strain on the muscles over time, often times caused by a lifetime of heavy lifting, jumping, bending, pregnancy, childbirth or excessive weight on the bladder muscles.

Surgeries, such as hysterectomies or prostate procedures, as well as urinary tract, prostate or vaginal infections can also affect bladder control. Certain types of foods, drinks or medications can even cause temporary and minor bladder control.

***If you experience loss of bladder or bowel control, you should always speak with your doctor.

Can it be prevented?

The Mayo Clinic indicates:

“Urinary incontinence isn’t always preventable. However, to help decrease your risk:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Practice pelvic floor exercises
  • Avoid bladder irritants, such as caffeine, alcohol and acidic foods
  • Eat more fiber, which can prevent constipation, a cause of urinary incontinence
  • Don’t smoke, or seek help to quit if you’re a smoker”

Strategies for managing

Clearly, a diagnosis and course of treatment by a physician is the number one thing that should be tended to. There may be an acute condition that once treated will assist in the lessening or disappearance of the incontinence.

  • Medications, if given should be taken regularly and on schedule.
  • Your physician may indicate that surgery or insertion of a device may be of assistance.
  • Biofeedback, Kegel Training (strengthen the muscles around the bladder) or nerve stimulation may also be a course of treatment recommended by your physician.
  • Drinking lots of water. It may feel like the more you drink, the more you’ll be at risk. But not drinking enough water actually can cause further problems that exacerbate the condition.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking irritates the bladder and quitting will help you raise the chances of leaking less.
  • Lose excess weight. If stress and strain on the bladder by excess weight is reduced, then leaking also may decrease.
  • There are many personal products available to help individuals maintain dignity and confidence. From pads to full underwear, these are much more discreet than they were in the past. Have a look here for some detailed info.

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Do you have questions about how you can better support your loved one while they age in place in South Florida or regarding homecare in general? Please contact CareGivers of America here: Contact or call us toll free: 800-342-4197

*No information in this article is to be taken as medical advice. This post is not sponsored, but may contain external links to websites, articles or product examples. External links are used for example or refence purposes only and these links do not indicate specific product or website endorsement by CareGivers of America.