Elderly Incontinence Care
For many people, taking a trip to the bathroom is an activity that they can easily delay. However, for the 13 million Americans suffering from urinary incontinence, holding it isn’t an option. Incontinence can occur at any age but is common in older adults. The National Association for Continence recently stated that one in every five Americans over 40 years old suffers from urgency, overactive bladder or frequency symptoms. In nursing homes, over 50 percent of the elderly residents have urinary incontinence.
Incontinence is common especially when aging, but it’s not normal. Because it is common, people tend to accept it and keep quiet. In a recent research, it was discovered that more than half the total population of incontinent people don’t visit a health care provider. In case you or a loved one is suffering from incontinence, don’t feel embarrassed, you’re not alone. And it’s worth talking about with a professional because of how it can interfere with enjoying life, from travel and exercise to romance and social outings.
Causes of Incontinence
It can be caused by different factors, including medications, stress, forgetting the location of the bathroom, constipation, and some physical conditions. When a loved one is suffering from either dementia or Alzheimer and has recently started to lose control over their bladder, the first and most important thing to do is to determine some of the possible causes. Consider medication side effects and other obstacles.
Diagnosis of Urinary Incontinence
Your loved one might feel embarrassed by the accidents they are experiencing and avoid scheduling an appointment with a physician. Sometimes, its not clear what type of doctor should be seen: a nurse practitioner, a primary care physician, or a urology specialist. The best thing to know about visiting a physician is that elderly urinary incontinence is a treatable condition.
If your loved one feels more comfortable with their primary care doctor, it may be a good idea to start there. Men can find a urologist while women consult a urogynecologist; either can visit a geriatrician. Usually, you will find nurse practitioners that specialize in incontinence conditions.
Expect the Following at Your Doctors Visit
- A blood test to check the calcium and glucose levels and kidney function
- Urinalysis to check whether there is blood in the urine and to rule out infection
- A comprehensive physical exam, including pelvic and rectal exam for women and a urological examination for men
Treatment and Management
Treatment for elderly incontinence can include medications, behavioral therapy, medical devices, and surgery. Treatments can include scheduled bathroom trips, bladder training, pads, fluid and diet management, and pelvic floor muscles exercises (Kegels).
In some cases, there may be physical impediments to taking care of a loved one with incontinence. A person with certain health conditions may require a home attendant to assist during some hours. Keep in mind that an incontinent loved one may not always remain at home and alternative living can sometimes be the best solution.