For over 3.3 million Canadians who experience incontinence (bladder leakage) putting off a trip to the bathroom is not an option.
Urinary incontinence isn’t something your loved one should live with. Due to embarrassment, many people do not seek help and therefore are unaware of the many treatment options that are available.
Is urinary incontinence a normal part of aging?
Incontinence can happen at any age, however, it’s generally more common in seniors.
As you age, changes in the body can make incontinence more likely. It can be caused by aging, lifestyle choices, or a range of health conditions.
Elderly urinary incontinence can take on a few forms:
Not drinking enough water, childbirth, a health condition such as diabetes, may be the causes. Many people slow down their water intake, however, this can cause strong urine that irritates the bladder wanting to release more often.
Common urinary incontinence causes in women are prior pregnancies, childbirth, menopause, pelvic floor dysfunction.
For men, prostate problems are a common cause of urinary incontinence.
There are six common types of urinary incontinence:
Your loved one may feel embarrassed and avoid scheduling a doctor’s appointment. They may be using absorbent pads or protective underwear to help, but urinary incontinence is very treatable with medical assistance.
They may not be sure what kind of doctor to see. A primary care doctor, geriatrician, nurse practitioner, or urinary specialist are viable options. If your loved one feels comfortable with their primary care doctor, it’s generally good to start there. Women can also find a urogynecologist, while men can visit a urologist.
A patient may also be asked to bring a bladder diary to their first visit or create one before the second appointment.
Behavioural therapy is generally the first treatment for urinary incontinence in the elderly. This may involve:
If your elderly loved one suffers from urinary incontinence, self-care can help avoid complications such as skin rashes, urine odours, and accidents. For cleaning, use a mild soap. Petroleum jelly or cocoa butter can protect the skin. Make sure to pat the skin dry.
Having the right products on hand will provide you and your loved one some peace of mind in urgent moments and ease the stress of incontinence care.
Avoid falls – If they frequently run to the restroom, slip-and-fall accidents can happen more easily. Try to make the bathroom as accessible as possible at home. Use pads and protective garments or washable underwear until you find a successful solution.
If elderly incontinence is keeping your loved one isolated and unable to enjoy their favourite pastimes, talk to them about treatment options and encourage them to see a doctor. With the proper and appropriate treatment, your loved one could soon be enjoying life more fully.
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