Incontinence and the Elderly

Did you know that urinary incontinence is associated with increased falls risks, increased rates of hospitalization, and increased rates of institutionalization later in life? Urinary incontinence is preventable and treatable, but if we don’t know how or when to seek care, the effects of quality of life for older adults are massive.

45% of adults experiencing difficulty with bladder control do not seek care for their symptoms because they assume the symptoms are a normal part of aging. Incontinence is common, but it is not normal. Estimates show that 50% of people over 60 years old experience urinary incontinence, that number increasing with age. Furthermore, those estimates rise to 77% of those in nursing facilities. Urinary incontinence is associated with increased anxiety and social isolation, as well as decreased self confidence.  In older adults, specifically, it is also associated with a faster rate of functional decline, increased rate of falls, frailty and depression.

These symptoms negatively impact their ability to stay active and live independently, and it’s a dangerous combination. Hip fractures are a serious outcome of falls for older adults. In those 60 years and older, hip fractures double mortality rates in 12 months, however much like incontinence, falls are preventable.

Discuss your bladder health with your medical doctors. Seek help if you have difficulty controlling your bladder when you cough or sneeze, when you exercise, or if you have a strong, inexplicable urge that makes it difficult to stop the flow of urine. Urinary incontinence is not a normal part of aging, and preventing or treating these symptoms will help you lead a longer, healthier and happier life.


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