Elder Care – Understanding the 5 Types of Urinary Incontinence

Are you or your elder frustrated with frequent wetting instances? Many folks think that urinary incontinence (the fancy name for wetting oneself) is a normal part of growing old. While this issue can be tied to some age related issues, in many cases, it can be avoided. Avoiding this situation if at all possible is important for many reasons.

First, many senior who experience this tend to withdraw from social interaction due to the embarrassment it causes. Many attempt to hide the problem and won’t even talk about it with their doctor. Urinary incontinence is one of the leading reasons for families placing their loved one into a long term care facility.

The good news is that urinary incontinence can be cured or at the very least improved in 75-80% of the cases. Even with this high rate of success, it’s estimated that roughly 60% of those affected people don’t actually seek medical help. These folks go through life suffering needlessly.

There are five types of urinary incontinence. Your doctor will be able to run tests to determine which type your elder is affected by and will help them take steps to eliminate or lessen the problem.

1. Temporary Incontinence

This is when the bladder control is lost suddenly, but inexplicably returns just as quickly. Constipation, changes in medication or a recent injury are all causes of this type.

2. Stress Incontinence

In this case, urine will leak out of the bladder when they laugh, sneeze, cough, get up from sitting position or lifts a heavy object. This is the most common type of incontinence and is almost always curable.

3. Urge Incontinence

Also known as overactive bladder. This condition is very common in women over the age of 75. In this scenario, the bladder contracts and releases urine involuntary and without warning. The elder will feel a significant urge to urinate and can’t make it to the bathroom in time. Causes can include infections, stroke and early stages of bladder cancer.

4. Overflow Incontinence

This is normally found in men with enlarged prostates. The prostate gland blocks the passageway for the urine, which makes it impossible to completely empty the bladder. Urine overflows from the bladder which causes dribbling and spotting on pants during the day. This can lead to a serious situation such as bladder and kidney infections. My dad had this situation which lead to a serious blood infection that almost cost him his life. Causes include weak bladder muscles, and nerve conditions.

5. Functional Incontinence

In this type, physical or mental disabilities prevent your elder from getting to the bathroom in time. In other cases, the elder’s brain may not get the message from the bladder that it’s full and that it’s time to head to the bathroom. Without the brain’s involvement, the bladder simply spills over. Causes can include stroke, dementia, a head injury or physical limitation, like arthritis.

When your elder is faced with the embarrassing situation of wetting themselves, get them to a doctor as soon as possible as they may be part of the 60% that can be cured of this malady.

Written by: Hal Robertson

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