November 2011 – Managing Incontinence

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You may have noticed a change of logo. We decided to let people know that it was about more than about mothers. Originally I chose the name because of my experience caregiving for my own mother. Many fathers felt left out and we didn’t want that. Now everything will be transitioning over the next year to the new logo in time for my upcoming book, Blueprint for Care, which will be released in 2012.

Managing Incontinence

Urinary Incontinence affects twice as many women as men but it is a life limiting condition when it happens. Many people become afraid to leave their home for fear of an embarrassing accident.

Incontinence is not considered a normal part of aging. . Often, family members may decide that it is too much of an issue for them and move their loved one to a senior residence. However, it is treatable.

Incontinence Is Not A Normal Part of Aging

Incontinence is not considered a normal part of aging and usually has an underlying medical cause. Many older adults are hesitant to tell their physicians unless asked directly. Incontinence can increase the risk of falls.

Studies have been done which indicate that those who have incontinence can be circumvented from having accidents by training to go immediately after eating each meal and upon arising in the morning. If the person finds that they are re-arranging their lives for their incontinence, then it is advised that the doctor be informed so that appropriate tests can be conducted to find the source of the issue.

There are many forms of incontinence. As women age, their pelvic floor muscles weaken. This can cause stress incontinence, where leakage can occur with a sneeze or the urgency may become more acute. This is how falls can occur…when they run to the bathroom and fall in the process. Urge incontinence is caused by bladder contractions which causes the bladder pressure to exceed the urethral pressure which controls the urine loss. Many times it is associated with central nervous system disorders such as Parkinson’s or stroke. Sometimes there is a mix of both types of incontinence. Finally, there is overflow incontinence where the bladder does not contract adequately or there is an obstruction due to enlarged prostate, pelvic organ prolapse or urethral stricture.

If the incontinence is not frequent, it may be controlled by light pads. Your doctor may suggest Kegel exercises which involve tightening the pelvic floor muscles repetitively to increase muscular control. However, if the cause is more difficult to control, there are products available that can be purchased locally or over the internet and delivered to your home. Some products come like an adult diaper; others more like a ‘brief’. There are different sizes and higher absorbency available for night wear. It is important that the person maintain cleanliness; keep dry and wear a cream barrier to keep skin from getting irritated. Some conditions may require surgery and medication. Your doctor will be the best person to advise you of what you require.

Incontinence can cause aggravation and embarrassment but it need not be life limiting. Find out what you can do to minimize the condition by contacting your physician and getting the appropriate tests. Then you will be free to think about what you want to do instead of your incontinence controlling what you are able to do.

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