How To Manage Incontinence

An elderly man pensively thinking.

Incontinence is one of the several problems that accompany old age. Though incontinence can occur at any age, it is more commonly seen in older adults. 13 million older individuals suffer from incontinence. And often leak before they reach the bathroom. The underlying medical condition that causes incontinence can become a cause of worry. However, this condition can get under control with timely intervention.

Why Do I Go to The Bathroom Often and Why Do I Leak?

The basic principle behind incontinence is the involuntary contraction. The bladder muscles weaken, that causes the urine to leak out.

Incontinence can take several forms, which includes the following:

Urge Incontinence

This usually occurs as a result of underlying medical conditions.

  • Overactive Bladder
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Dementia
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson's disease
  • In this type, the bladder muscles become weak and cause the urine to leak out. This is due to involuntary contractions of muscles.

    Overflow Incontinence

    This occurs as a result of an obstruction in the urinary bladder. Due to which the contractions either occur involuntarily or do not occur at all.

    Stress Incontinence

    Stress incontinence is a type of incontinence. Where older adults are unable to hold urine and leak out due to a rise in abdominal pressure. For example, older adults are unable to hold urine. (Even though their bladder is not full). While lifting objects, climbing stairs, during sneezing or coughing.

    Mixed Incontinence

    Often, older adults experience more than one type of incontinence. This occurs more in older women. When they develop stress incontinence along with urge incontinence.

    Functional Incontinence

    This occurs as a result of underlying disabilities. Such as arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, Multiple sclerosis, stroke or accidents.

    Understanding Incontinence

    Understanding the problems that go with incontinence. And the shame and embarrassment they undergo. It is necessary that caregivers understand the condition to give better care. We can manage and bring Incontinence under control. When we actual understand and diagnose it.

    Misdiagnosis can often cause the condition to worsen and the patients made to suffer. It is necessary that caregivers understand the symptoms and other parameters to seek appropriate medical advice from the doctor.

    Practical Tips for the Management of Incontinence:

    • Medications often form the first line of treatment for incontinence. Some of the common medicines that are included are antispasmodic drugs or anticholinergic. Give these medications to your patient as advised by the doctor. When given these medications can bring about positive results.
    • Local application ointments These are for older women, who are experiencing incontinence due to hormonal imbalance. Estrogen vaginal creams are available. Which provides relief from stress as well as urge incontinence.
    • Pelvic floor exercises These are a good way to strengthen the pelvic muscles. It will effectively manage incontinence.
    • A High fiber diet along with an increase in fluid Intake This will be for those elderlies facing incontinence due to constipation.
    • Bladder emptying training Caregivers should be knowledgeable to the elderlies to reduce incontinence. The bladder emptying technique includes emptying the bladder twice while urinating. For example, voiding once may not be enough to completely empty the bladder. So, older adults should wait for a few seconds after passing urine and count till 10 and pass some more urine. The extra urine is the left over urine that is in the bladder. That did not get flushed out at the first go and hence can leak later.
    • Unfortunately, There is No Cure

      You must also understand that there is no cure for incontinence. But the condition can be well managed with proper care and treatment. While pharmacological treatment may take a time to show effect. Caregivers can adopt other steps to make the patient comfortable. It is also necessary that they follow their doctor’s advice for speeding the recovery process.

      Caregivers Should Also Consider These Tips for Better Care

       Elderly man with family caregiverDisposable products are widely available for providing protection against incontinence. You can wear these products. It saves the patient from embarrassment and it also keeps them dry and comfortable. The disposable products are also ideal for long distance traveling. When changing clothes every now and then, becomes impossible.

      Comfortable clothing Make sure that the undergarments for older adults are easy to remove while voiding. Usually, Velcro and elastic waistlines are pretty easy to use and remove as compared to the traditional ones, which comprise of zippers and buttons. Keep a set of extra clothing handy in case of accidental leakage.

      Hygiene products This is one of the most important aspects that caregivers should take note of. The skin should be thoroughly cleaned and pat dry in case of any leakage. Do this to avoid the development of any type of skin infections.

      Incontinence is a problem that is not pleasant for older adults. Having patience, love and care can make their lives comfortable. And allow them to cope with the problem in a better and respectable manner.

      About the author

      Tena Scallan is a passionate healthcare professional, business owner and published author with over 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry. Tena has dedicated her life’s work to working in hospitals, running her own in-home caregiving agency and providing coaching and guidance for family caregivers. Tena firmly believes that both home and lifestyle can be preserved by in-home compassionate caregiving in the face of aging or illness. Be sure to visit Tena's site which offers additional resources, stories, and other tools to help caregivers.