Urinary incontinence is a common problem among elderly individuals. While it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, it doesn’t have to be that way. Understanding the types of incontinence and how they affect an individual can help family members or caregivers provide better care for older adults.
With that in mind, let us look at some of the most common types of incontinence among the elderly population.
Is incontinence just a part of ageing? While it can happen to anyone, incontinence is more common among the elderly. More specifically, urgency incontinence or the sudden urge to urinate and an involuntary loss of urine occur later in life. Bladder inflammation, prostate enlargement, bladder stones, or overactive bladder syndrome can cause urinary urgency incontinence. It is important to note that urinary urgency incontinence does not necessarily mean frequent urination. Rather, it means there is an urgent need to go when you don’t feel like you can wait any longer.
Urinary frequency incontinence
Another type of incontinence seen in seniors is urinary frequency incontinence or overactive bladder. This type is characterised by frequent urination, with small amounts of urine released each time. Urinary frequency incontinence often happens during activities such as walking or talking and may even occur during sleep. Some causes of urinary frequency incontinence include drinking large amounts of fluids before bedtime, medications that cause excessive urination, bladder cancer, and age-related changes in metabolism.
Stress incontinence occurs when physical activity puts pressure on the bladder muscles causing urine leakage unexpectedly. Weakened pelvic floor muscles can cause this type of incontinence due to pregnancy or childbirth, as well as age-related changes in muscle tone and strength. It’s important to note that stress incontinence isn’t always limited to physical activities. Emotional stressors such as laughing or sneezing can also trigger leakage if the pelvic floor muscles are weak enough.
Overflow incontinence occurs when an individual has difficulty completely emptying their bladder, resulting in frequent leakage throughout the day and night due to overflow from a full bladder. Common causes include weak bladder muscles due to age-related changes and nerve damage from stroke or spinal cord injury. This can prevent proper communication between the brain and bladder muscles leading to incomplete emptying and urine retention.
Functional incontinence occurs when an individual has difficulty accessing a toilet due to physical disabilities such as arthritis or impaired mobility from stroke or other neurological disorders, making it difficult for them to reach a restroom within a reasonable amount of time. This results in unexpected leakage before they can get there. Other causes include mental impairments such as dementia or cognitive impairment, which makes it challenging for them to remember how best to use public restrooms safely and hygienically.
Understanding what type of urinary incontinence your elderly loved one may have will help determine appropriate treatment options available, so they do not have to suffer unnecessarily with this condition any more than they already do. Knowing these different types of urinary will ultimately ensure your loved one lives the best life possible.