Urinary Incontinence in Later Life: Causes, Prevention & Coping

Urinary incontinence is often ignored as an embarrassing accident but it's much more than that. It often results in loss of freedom and that may lead to social withdrawal and eventually, depression. This is why it shouldn't be taken lightly. It is estimated that a significant part of the older population is affected by urinary incontinence. Also, more women suffer from it than men.

This blog post will explore urinary incontinence, its types and causes, how to care for someone with incontinence, and other related issues. 

What is Urinary Incontinence?

One of the many terms used for this condition is overactive bladder and that is exactly what it is. Leaking urine by accident is known as urinary incontinence. It's not that uncommon and can happen to anyone but is particularly common in older people and among older people, the proportion of women suffering from incontinence is much higher as compared to men. Bladder control issues can affect anyone and for a variety of reasons including constipation, infections, irritations, use of certain medications, and other such things.

However, the good news is that it can be controlled or stopped. If you or one of your loved ones is experiencing urinary incontinence, you should know that there are ways to reverse it and manage it. Don't think of this condition as something permanent or unmanageable. There are several aids available to allow you to manage incontinence successfully.

What Happens to the Urinary System with Aging?

Your urinary system consists of a number of organs that include the urethra, ureters, kidneys, bladder, and pelvic floor muscles. The urethra is the organ that connects the bladder to the outside world. The urethra opening and closing are controlled by sphincters and nerves controlling the bladder muscles. In broad terms, your legs and brain also form part of the urinary system as your brain decides when it's time for you to visit the loo and that is when your legs take you there.

In the older population, some of the muscle fibres in the urinary system are replaced by stiffer tissue which leads to a decline in the neurological response of responses that control urinary function. This decline in neurological responses and stiffer muscle fibres in the urinary system combined with some age-associated conditions such as diabetes, cognitive impairment, mobility limitations, congestive heart failure, obesity, and other things can also worsen incontinence. In short, certain functions of the body become less controllable with age and that may lead to incontinence.

Urinary Incontinence

Causes of Incontinence in Aging Adults

Incontinence can be triggered by various causes. In short, there are different types of urinary incontinence. Some of the common types include:

Functional incontinence — This is the type of incontinence where people are unable to get to the toilet in time due to other disorders. They don't have any problems with bladder control.

Overflow incontinence — This is the type where a small amount of leakage is always happening due to a full bladder.

Urge incontinence — This is the type where people are not able to hold it long enough in the bladder to be able to reach the toilet in time.

Stress incontinence — As the name implies, this happens due to stress. Typically, it happens when there is additional pressure on the bladder such as when lifting heavy objects, laughing, sneezing or during exercise. It mostly affects younger and middle-aged women.

As far as the causes of incontinence are concerned, it could happen due to a variety of reasons some of which are listed below:

  • Urinary tract infection
  • Use of certain medications
  • Some psychological disorders
  • Excessive output of urine and hyperglycemia or other such conditions
  • Mobility restrictions
  • Delirium
  • Constipation
  • Heart issues, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease
  • Diabetes, spinal cord injury
  • Menopause

How to Care for Someone with Incontinence

If you plan to care for someone with incontinence, these tips might be of some help:

  • Get them to talk to a health professional to determine the cause of the incontinence.
  • Encourage them to make changes to their diet within reason.
  • Encourage them to perform pelvic floor exercises that help in strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor and other parts of the urinary system.
  • Encourage them to take bladder training
  • Encourage them to use timed toileting
  • Managed continence with the help of high-quality mobility aids

Final Thoughts

Urinary incontinence can affect anyone but it affects a significant part of the older population, especially women. If it's not brought under control, it could lead to serious mental health issues. The first step in the treatment should be the diagnosis of the cause(s). Many of the causes are reversible. If the condition cannot be reversed, there are several solutions available to manage incontinence with the use of certain products such as pads or diapers.

Buy the Best Mobility Aids at Get About Mobility

Urinary incontinence affects millions of people and is common in older adults. If not actively managed, it has the potential to severely impact the quality of life. Thankfully, many of the underlying causes are completely reversible and even if the cause isn't reversible, there are ways to manage continence with the help of mobility aids available for sale at Get About Mobility.

Get About Mobility offers over 1,000 products for sale with Australia wide delivery. Our large range of aged care and disability equipment is aimed at helping you become more independent and enhance your quality of life.

Please call us today on 1300 168 902 or leave an enquiry and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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