While not unusual, age-related incontinence in seniors is a challenging condition to manage, impacting daily life in lots of ways and frequently leading to reduced self-confidence and assurance together with the limiting of enjoyable activities.
Nevertheless, it is essential to know that urinary incontinence is not something that must simply be accepted as a standard part of aging. Figuring out the explanation for the problem can lead to an effective treatment option. Contributing factors to bladder control problems include:
- A urinary tract or vaginal infection
- Weakened or overactive bladder muscles
- Pelvic organ prolapse or weakened pelvic floor muscles
- Nerve damage from conditions such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, or MS
- Enlarged prostate
- Health issues that make it more challenging to get to the restroom in time, such as arthritis
A senior experiencing problems with incontinence should visit with the physician to talk about symptoms, medications, and medical history. She or he may recommend blood and urine tests as well as testing to decide how effectively the bladder is emptying. Keeping a daily journal prior to the appointment can help, noting the times of each day when urinating and when leaking urine.
Once the cause for the incontinence has been established, treatment options may include:
- Oral medications which can tighten muscles or help the bladder empty fully
- An injected medication to the area surrounding the urethra
- A low-dose estrogen cream
- Nerve stimulation around the bladder
- A urethral insert or pessary in order to prevent leaking
- Surgery in the event that incontinence is the result of blockage or a modification of the bladder’s position
Additionally, some incontinence issues are often alleviated by trying:
- Kegel (pelvic muscle) exercises
- Timed urination, emptying the bladder on a set schedule
- Lifestyle changes, such as eliminating caffeine and alcohol, quitting smoking, and losing weight
Frequently, seniors with urinary incontinence incorrectly believe that they should restrict their fluid intake. It is imperative to maintain proper hydration and to understand that lower hydration levels lead to more concentrated urine, which in fact can make urinating more uncomfortable and increase issues with incontinence. Plain water is always the best option, but if the senior prefers, try adding flavoring such as a slice of cucumber, lemon or lime.
For a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, especially in the later stages, incontinence is especially common, and can be helped through:
- Making it easier to get to the toilet by ensuring pathways are clear and there is adequate lighting
- Eliminating coffee, soda, and tea from the older adult’s diet, as these increase urination (but ensuring your senior loved one drinks plenty of water)
- Taking regular, frequent bathroom breaks
- Choosing clothing that is easy to remove
- Experimenting with different types of incontinence care products to find one that is most comfortable
When families need trusted home and live-in care in Bristol, they turn to Live Free Home Health Care’s aging care experts. We are trained and experienced in incontinence care, and are here to help provide recommendations as well as in-home care to assist with personal care needs, discreetly and always with the utmost respect. Contact us at 603-217-0149 to request a free in-home consultation and for additional information about our top-rated Bristol home care. For information on each of the communities we serve, please visit our Service Area page.