Incontinence ISN’T a normal part of aging
Incontinence is a major challenge for older adults and caregivers. But your senior isn’t alone; this is a problem for many people. A New York Times article reported that 37 million older adults who live independently have some type of incontinence.
The article also emphasizes that incontinence in seniors is treatable – it’s not a normal part of aging. Unfortunately, most people don’t discuss it, even with their doctor. This is usually because of shame or thinking that it’s a normal part of aging they have to accept.
Incontinence decreases quality of life for seniors and caregivers
“This is a huge issue that can have just as much impact on seniors’ quality of life as diabetes and even stroke,” said Dr. Alayne Markland, an associate professor of geriatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Untreated incontinence can cause older adults to stop participating in social activities and isolating themselves out of embarrassment or fear of an accident. Studies have shown that seniors who are socially isolated tend to have greater risk of death and die earlier. They also have poorer quality of life while they’re alive.
Caring for a senior with incontinence can quickly turn a challenging job into an unmanageable one. For caregivers, the added stress and physical demands can be a major reason to move older adults into assisted living – even if they wish they could keep them at home.
Treating incontinence or better managing the symptoms can significantly help your older adult (and you) improve quality of life.
Incontinence CAN be treated
“In most cases, clinicians working with patients are able to improve symptoms or even resolve the problem,” said Dr. Tomas Griebling, a professor of urology at the University of Kansas. Treatments range from physical therapy to simple lifestyle changes to drug therapy to a variety of other medical treatments.
The bottom line is that if your older adult has incontinence, it’s important to discuss it with their doctor, find the real cause of the problem, and work to improve the situation.
Simple at-home treatment for incontinence
Just like exercise helps the body stay in shape, one way to improve incontinence symptoms is with kegel exercises. Doing these regularly helps your senior’s pelvic muscles stay in shape and improves or prevents incontinence. Men benefit from kegels too!
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: SeniorCare Clinic