How Older Adults Suffer from Urinary Incontinence

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As we age, our bodies endure a lot, and sometimes that means an older adult may experience urinary incontinence. It’s a common challenge for many older adults getting hospice‌ ‌care‌ in Burbank, Glendale, or Pasadena. A 2014 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mentions that 51% of people over the age of 65 and living at home have bladder or bowel incontinence. Those figures increase further for patients in hospice‌ and assisted living facilities. 

What’s Urinary Incontinence?

The nursing team providing ‌care‌ for Glendale, Burbank, or Pasadena hospice patients ‌tells us that urinary incontinence refers to the loss of bladder control. This is usually a common and often embarrassing problem. The harshness of this condition ranges from leaking urine every now and then when you cough or sneeze to having the impulse to urinate that’s so unforeseen and strong you don’t get to a toilet in time. 

Although urinary incontinence usually happens as people get older, it isn’t an unavoidable result of aging. If urinary incontinence disturbs your daily activities, don’t be reluctant to see your doctor or tell the staff providing hospice care. For many people, simple changes in lifestyle and diet or even medical care can treat symptoms of urinary incontinence. 

What Are The Symptoms?

Some Burbank, Pasadena, or Glendale hospice patients experience small leaks of urine. On the other hand, others may lose small to moderate quantities of urine more frequently. 

Kinds of urinary incontinence include:

Types of urinary incontinence include:

  • Stress incontinence. When pressure is put on the bladder urine leaks. These pressures could be anything such as sneezing, coughing, exercising, laughing, or lifting something heavy.
  • Urge incontinence. An abrupt, intense urge to urinate accompanied by an involuntary loss of urine. You may need to urinate frequently, even throughout the night. Urge incontinence may come about by a minor condition, such as an infection, or a more severe condition like a neurological disorder or diabetes.
  • Overflow incontinence. You experience recurrent or constant dribbling of urine because your bladder that doesn’t empty completely.
  • Functional incontinence. A physical or mental impairment can stop you from getting to the toilet in time. For instance, if you have severe arthritis, you aren’t capable of unbuttoning your trousers fast enough.
  • Mixed incontinence. You experience more than one type of urinary incontinence — usually, this means a combination of stress incontinence and urge incontinence.

What Causes Urinary Incontinence?

Urinary incontinence can happen because of everyday habits, underlying medical conditions, or physical issues. Your doctor should give you a thorough evaluation to determine the causes of your incontinence.

Temporary urinary incontinence

Some drinks, foods, and medications behave as diuretics — stimulating your bladder and boosting your urine volume. They include:

  • Alcohol
  • Carbonated beverages and sparkling water
  • Caffeine
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Chocolate
  • Foods that are high in sugar or acid, particularly citrus fruits
  • Chili peppers
  • Blood pressure and heart medications, sedatives, and muscle relaxants
  • Large doses of vitamin C

Additionally, urinary incontinence may be caused by an easily treatable medical condition, such as:

  • Urinary tract infection. Infections can irritate the bladder, resulting in strong urges to urinate and incontinence.
  • Constipation. The rectum is situated near the bladder and shares many of the same nerves. When stools in the rectum become hard and impacted, it can cause these nerves to be overactive and magnify urinary frequency.

Persistent urinary incontinence

Again, urinary incontinence can be an ongoing condition caused by underlying physical issues or changes, including:

  • Pregnancy. Hormonal changes and the increased weight of the fetus can result in stress incontinence.
  • Childbirth. Vaginal delivery can weaken muscles required for bladder control and damage bladder nerves and supportive tissue, resulting in a dropped (prolapsed) pelvic floor. With prolapse, the bladder, rectum, uterus, or small intestine can get pushed down from the normal position and protrude into the vagina. Such protrusions may be linked with incontinence.
  • Changes with age. When bladder muscles age, it can decrease the bladder’s capacity to store urine. Also, involuntary bladder contractions occur more often as you age.
  • Menopause. After menopause, women produce less estrogen, a hormone that helps maintain the lining of the bladder and urethra. When these tissues start to deteriorate, it can exacerbate incontinence.
  • Enlarged prostate. Particularly in older men, incontinence often arises from enlargement of the prostate gland, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia.
  • Prostate cancer. Stress incontinence or urge incontinence can be linked with untreated prostate cancer in men. However, often, incontinence is a side effect of treatments for prostate cancer.
  • Obstruction. A tumor within your urinary tract can block the normal flow of urine, resulting in overflow incontinence. Urinary stones — hard, stonelike masses that form in the bladder — sometimes cause urine leakage.
  • Neurological disorders. Parkinson’s disease, dementia, Multiple sclerosis, a stroke, a spinal injury, or a brain tumor, can interfere with nerve signals responsible for bladder control, causing urinary incontinence.

How To Manage Urinary Incontinence In Older Adults 

Although urinary continence is common, in many situations, it is treatable. Options for caring for urinary incontinence include surgery, medication, behavioral therapy, and diet modifications. 

For individuals who carry on suffering from urinary incontinence, it is crucial to plan ahead to avoid any accidents and complications. 

Planning bathroom visits before a person feel the urge to urinate can be very helpful for individuals with neurological disorders or mobility issues. It can be good to get used to double voiding during these visits. When it comes to double voiding, a person urinates, waits a few minutes, and then attempts to urinate again, encouraging the person to drain the bladder completely.

When an accident does happen, always ensure to gently clean the body with mild soap and pat the skin dry to prevent any skin rashes. 

Necessary Incontinence Products

When managing urinary incontinence in older adults, like those in Burbank hospice, you should have the right supplies. Some helpful products include:

  • Absorbent pads and liners
  • Incontinence briefs
  • Mild soap
  • Absorbent bed pads
  • Barrier cream to protect the skin
  • Disposable wipes

Incontinence is prevalent in people going through a serious illness. Palliative and or hospice care can help provide extra care and support while connecting the person with local resources and hospice provides incontinence products, depending on the patient’s condition. If you need more information on urinary incontinence in older adults, do not hesitate to contact Faith & Hope Hospice and Palliative Care.