Helping aging parents deal with possible incontinence

While incontinence is not a normal part of aging, it is more common in older people. If your parents are aging, learning about incontinence could help you help your parents should they experience a loss of bladder control in their later years. And since incontinence can be easily and effectively managed, it shouldn't become a barrier to them to have an active life.

What are the signs?

Your mother or father may notice that she or he is getting up more than once or twice in the night to urinate. They may mention it because it becomes problematic and is affecting their sleep. There may be bedwetting during the night, or wetting their underclothes. You may also notice, or your parents may mention, that they have to rush to get to the toilet in time. This typically becomes more frequent over time so that they may be going to the toilet more than once every two hours during the day.

What are some of the things that can cause incontinence in seniors?

If your parent has suffered a stroke, or has a neurological disease such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, incontinence is likely as the disease worsens. Diabetes can also affect bladder control because it weakens bladder muscles. Arthritis is an indirect and common cause because it can make it hard to get to the toilet in time. Arthritis in the hands and fingers can make opening buttons and pulling zippers difficult. Urinary tract infections, which are more common in seniors, can also cause incontinence. And some medications can cause loss of bladder control. For women who have been through menopause, lower levels of estrogen can make bladder symptoms worse.

How can you help?

Talking to your health care professional is a good place to start. There is a wide range of treatments available to manage incontinence, including absorbent products (which absorb urine and odour), exercises, lifestyle changes, medical devices, medications, and surgery. To learn more about treatment options for incontinence, speak to your doctor. Finding the right treatment can help your parents stay active and enjoy life.

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