Urinary incontinence is a bladder control problem that affects people of all ages, not just the elderly. One of the great misconceptions about incontinence is that it is a natural and expected part of aging. But that’s not true; just because you’re elderly doesn’t mean you have to accept the loss of bladder control as a normal part of getting older. Effective treatments are available for sufferers of incontinence, no matter what age you are.
Incontinence symptoms vary from occasional minor leakage to the complete accidental loss of control of an evacuation of the bladder. The majority of urinary incontinence issues arise from either weakened or over-active bladder muscles. Stress incontinence results from weak muscles meeting a sudden burst of pressure. A sudden sneeze, a violent cough or even a belly laugh can trigger an unwanted and sudden release of urine.
Another common type of incontinence is “overactive bladder,” or OAB. In OAB the nerves of the bladder send false signals making you feel an urgent need to urinate eve when there is very little liquid present.
Aging and Bladder Problems
Older adults have other reasons for bladder discharge problems. The very elderly are often immobile and not able t heed the call of nature in time. Others suffer from conditions that produce fluid overload.
Congestive heart problems or the use of diuretics can produce too much urine for a weakened bladder to hold. Incontinence can also be caused by cognitive impairment. Senior citizens often suffer from forms of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease which can cause behavioral problems. These situations are less about bladder control and more about more severe medical conditions.
The important thing to realize about bladder problems is that they have many causes and many possible treatments. Too many older adults see bladder control issues as a sign of incompetence and impending death. They try to hide the problem rather than seeking treatment.
Rather than risking a potentially embarrassing discharge in public they withdraw from life. This reclusive life leads to further isolation, feelings of despair and can even develop into depression. Senior safety and well being requires an active social life, so don’t let incontinence stop you from living. Treatments to reduce or even eliminate incontinence are many and varied.
Some treatments may include dietary changes or even altering prescription medications. Most severe cases may require therapy (like bladder control exercises, floor exercises, meal and beverage timing) medications and absorbency products. There are a number of surgical procedures that may be effective but because the risks and costs associated with any surgery, these are usually the last resort.
Prostate problems and nerve damage (from accidents or even the side effects of surgery) can also create incontinence. Realize that millions suffer from incontinence and it is nothing to be ashamed of. You don’t have to self-manage the problem in secrecy. Your doctor may be able to help free you of the problem, but not if you keep it to yourself.
Elder Care Issues
If you are a caregiver to a person who suffers from bladder control problems, talk to your family physician and get your loved one a complete evaluation. Adult diapers are not the only way to manage the problem and they certainly won’t cure it. The solution to your particular problem will take a good deal of investigation and experimentation. Some elder care givers have had great success by changing the physical environment; just adding a commode to the bedroom or giving the patient easy to remove clothing can fix the problem.
Others required a change in medication; still others required a change in home health care worker. Sometimes patients are embarrassed by health care workers of the opposite sex, other times it’s the reverse. Investigate experiment and persevere knowing that a good number of incontinence problems are manageable if not completely preventable.
Despite what many people think incontinence is not a problem that comes with age. It is indeed more prominent in elderly people due to certain health factors that we only experience as we get older. Incontinence, Bladder Weakness, Leaking Bladder, what ever you want to call it, it’s nothing to be ashamed off and in many cases it is treatable.
Caring for a loved one can be both an intensely difficult but at the same time rewarding experience. You may learn things about yourself you may never have realised, such as your ability to be patient and your capacity for love and compassion.
With caring comes great responsibilities be it on a professional or personal level. One of the biggest issues carers face when looking after older people is incontinence.
Changing diapers, wet bed sheets etc, is not a pleasant task to do on a daily basis but it has to done in order to provide a better quality of life for those with bladder weaknesses. Nowadays incontinence products have evolved and they not only provide more protection and discretion to the wearer but they are also easier to handle, hence disposable incontinence products.
Disposable incontinence products range from disposable diapers through to bed sheets or bed protections and can be bought at any pharmacy, drug store or even online.
Many adults who experience incontinence often feel embarrassed about their condition. Any carer who works closely with incontinent adults can help improve their daily life by making them feel better about their condition. There are a many ways that to help the person you care for feel better about bladder weakness.
The first thing to do is to let them know it is a common condition experienced by many people of their age. Did you know that Incontinence and Bladder problems affect about 6 million people in the UK?
Knowing that there are others experiencing the same problems and they are not alone often makes them feel better about themselves.
Nothing to be ashamed of
Carers can significantly reduce the emotional concerns over bladder weakness/ incontinence by helping their loved ones feel less ashamed and being sensitive to their concerns.
Build up their confidence
Keeping initial outings short can help to build their confidence in how continence can be managed away from the home. After a few trips to nearby destinations, they will feel more comfortable about travelling further and for longer periods.
Caring for elderly incontinent people requires huge amounts of comprehension and patience but with a lot of understanding you can help them feel better about incontinence and get back to doing the things they enjoy.
The psychosocial implications of incontinence are huge; often resulting in people becoming afraid to leave their home because they are worried that they will not be able to find a toilet and are fearful of being incontinent. This in turn, can lead to loss of mobility and depression. Incontinence is also known to be a cause of falls in older people.
Understanding the complex nature of incontinence in older people – and how to undertake a comprehensive and holistic assessment to identify the root of their incontinence – is one of the biggest challenges amongst doctors, nurses and carers.
Back in October Nursingtimes.net, the website of leading weekly magazine for nurses in the UK, published a detailed guide to assessing bladder function and urinary incontinence in older people.
The guide provides an overview of the causes of urinary incontinence in older people and the psychological factors that need to be taken into account when assessing and treating the condition within elderly sufferers.
Proving that a holistic assessment by a well-trained nurse or carer with a good understanding of the complex nature of incontinence in older people can result in a cure or improvement of their incontinence.