Functional Incontinence

What is Functional Incontinence?

Functional incontinence is the inability to reach the toilet in time because of the difficulties caused by physical or mental illness. The loss of urine can vary, from small leakages to full emptying of the bladder (or bowel if faecal incontinence is experienced).

Causes of Functional Incontinence?

There are a number of causes of functional incontinence. Functional incontinence is more common in the elderly as many of these causes are such as confusion, dementia, poor eyesight, impaired mobility and poor dexterity are those which affect people increasingly with age.

Functional incontinence might also be caused by an unwillingness to use the toilet due to depression or anxiety.

Functional incontinence might also occasionally occur where there is no apparent medical problem. For example a person may recognise the need to urinate but are unable to do so because there is no toilet or suitable alternative nearby or access to a toilet is restricted or prohibited and the person reaches a stage where they are no longer able to refrain from urination or defecating and an involuntary movement takes place. Excessive alcohol consumption may also cause episodes of incontinence.

Treatment of Functional Incontinence

If functional incontinence is causes by a lack of mobility or dexterity it is important to aid the person with a regular toileting plan. Small steps such as ensuring a bed is at the correct height to help standing, and placing a bed/chair in a place where toilet access is straightforward may also assist.

If the condition is cause is confusion, dementia or poor eyesight then clearly signposting where the toilet is in addition may also assist.

If travelling outside the home then knowing the location of toilet stops on route will also be useful.