Bladder control and being able to put off a trip to the washroom is something that most younger people find to be a non-issue, but for seniors dealing with Urinary Incontinence, these can be significant problems.
In older age, some seniors begin to deal with a more overactive bladder and they find themselves less able to control urination. Whether it be as a result of a small, everyday issue or as a symptom of a larger health concern, addressing problems related to Urinary Incontinence is important for seniors’ overall health and wellbeing.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
Urinary Incontinence is, in essence, an inability to hold urine in the bladder as a result of having less control. Urinary Incontinence can impact seniors lives in different ways depending on how it manifests:
- Functional Incontinence: This form of Urinary Incontinence is less about an inability to control the bladder and more about mobility issues or other hurdles that seniors may face. Functional Incontinence is the term used to describe situations in which seniors have normal bladder control but may be unable to get themselves to the washroom in time as a result of mobility issues or other similar obstacles.
- Overflow Incontinence: When small amounts of urine leaks from the bladder because it is constantly full of urine. Overflow Incontinence often impacts men who have an enlarged prostate, and can also come along with conditions such as Diabetes.
- Stress Incontinence: Cases in which leaks are caused by stress or pressure being put upon the bladder are referred to as Stress Incontinence. This can happen with certain movements, coughing, laughing, exercise, or exertion that impacts the bladder.
- Urge Incontinence: Some seniors may find themselves suddenly struck, seemingly out of the blue, with a strong urge to urinate and they are unable to reach the washroom on time. Urge Incontinence can be a symptom of health problems such as Diabetes, MS, Parkinson’s and other conditions.
Managing Urinary Incontinence
Depending on the form of Incontinence that is creating problems for seniors, there are different strategies and courses of action that can help to manage and treat the issue.
The first step should always be to consult with a medical professional who can talk things through, make suggestions, and explore any underlying causes or larger health concerns that may be at play. Once a doctor has diagnosed the issue, they can make prescriptions and recommendations for action to help deal with the problem, and there are also some strategies that seniors and caregivers can implement in their daily routines to help make things more manageable.
- Lifestyle: There are a variety of lifestyle factors that come into play to amplify the issues caused by Urinary Incontinence. Working to get rid of unhealthy habits such as smoking, alcohol, and excess caffeine can help lessen the symptoms, as can managing other lifestyle factors such as weight, exercise, and patterns of consumption.
- Exercises: There are specific exercises that are designed to help strengthen the muscles involved in bladder control, and seniors and their caregivers can research and seek guidance into how they can start doing these exercises at home.
- Plan: If urination has become something that can create problems, one way to take back some control is to plan to empty the bladder before it can leak. Seniors can plan to use the bathroom on a schedule to avoid allowing their bladders to get too full. Encouraging seniors to use the washroom once every hour can be a good place to start and adjustments can be made to meet individual needs and patterns as required.
Talking about Urinary Incontinence can feel uncomfortable for many seniors, but if it is causing stress, discomfort, and other problems on a consistent basis, addressing the issue is important. Meeting with a healthcare professional to discuss the concerns and making a plan to take back some control and spend less time worrying about Incontinence can help seniors to feel more confident and independent.