While not unusual, urinary incontinence in the elderly is a challenging condition to cope with, impacting day-to-day life in many ways and frequently leading to reduced self-confidence and assurance as well as the curbing of enjoyable activities.
Yet it is important to know that bladder control problems are not something that must simply be accepted as a typical part of aging. Determining the reason behind the problem may lead to a successful treatment option. Contributing factors to bladder control problems include:
- A urinary tract or vaginal infection
- Overactive or weakened bladder muscles
- Pelvic organ prolapse or weakened pelvic floor muscles
- Nerve damage from conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, or MS
- Enlarged prostate
- Health conditions that make it harder to get to the restroom in time, such as arthritis
An older adult going through difficulties with incontinence should visit with the doctor to go over symptoms, medications, and health background. He or she may recommend blood and urine tests in addition to testing to figure out how effectively the bladder is emptying. Keeping a daily journal ahead of the appointment can be helpful, noting the time of each day when urinating and when leaking urine.
Once the reason behind the incontinence has been established, treatments can include:
- Oral medications that will tighten muscles or help the bladder empty fully
- An injected medication into the area surrounding the urethra
- A low-dose estrogen cream
- Nerve stimulation around the bladder
- A urethral insert or pessary in order to help prevent leaking
- Surgery if the incontinence is the result of blockage or a change in the bladder’s position
In addition, some incontinence issues are often relieved by trying:
- Kegel (pelvic muscle) exercises
- Timed urination, emptying the bladder on a set schedule
- Lifestyle changes, such as eliminating caffeine and alcohol, stopping smoking, and losing weight
Often, seniors with urinary incontinence incorrectly think that they need to restrict their fluid intake. It is imperative to maintain proper hydration and also to know that lower hydration levels lead to more concentrated urine, which actually could make urinating more uncomfortable and increase problems with incontinence. Plain water is always the smartest choice, but if the senior prefers, try adding flavoring such as a slice of cucumber, lemon or lime.
For a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, specifically in the later stages, incontinence is especially common, and can be helped through:
- Making it easier to access the restroom by making certain pathways are clear and there’s satisfactory lighting
- Cutting out coffee, soda, and tea from the senior’s diet, since these increase urination (but ensuring your loved one drinks a lot of water)
- Taking regular, frequent bathroom breaks
- Choosing clothing that is simple to remove
- Experimenting with various kinds of incontinence care products to find one that is most comfortable
As providers of the most trusted elder care in Algonquin & nearby areas, Inspired Home Care’s aging care professionals are trained and experienced in incontinence care, and are here to help provide recommendations in addition to in-home care to assist with personal care needs, discreetly and always with the utmost respect. Contact us online or give us a call at 847-787-7572 to ask about a no-cost in-home consultation and for more information on our top-rated elder care in Algonquin and throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.