What is Urinary Incontinence?
The body stores urine in the bladder. While urinating, the muscles in the bladder contract to allow urine to pass into a tube called the urethra. The muscles surrounding the urethra relax simultaneously to let the urine pass out of the body. When these muscles do not work properly, urine leaks out. The condition in which a person leaks urine by accident is known as urinary incontinence. Incontinence specifically occurs when the muscles relax without any warning. While urinary incontinence can happen to anyone, it is more common in older people, especially women. Incontinence can often be cured or controlled. Read on to know all about urinary incontinence treatment for elderly.
Causes of Urinary Incontinence
Vaginal infection or irritation, urinary tract infection, constipation, and certain medicines can cause urinary incontinence, which lasts for a short time. When urinary incontinence persists for a longer duration, it may be caused by weak or overactive bladder muscles, weak pelvic floor muscles, arthritis, pelvic organ prolapse, or nerve damage resulting from conditions like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and diabetes. Most urinary incontinence in men is caused by problems related to prostate gland like enlarged prostate gland and prostatitis.
Treatment for Urinary Incontinence in the Elderly
Many treatments for urinary incontinence are available today. The choice of treatment depends on the type of bladder control problem the elderly patient has, the severity of the problem, and the lifestyle which best suits the individual.
Non-Medical Treatment for Urinary Incontinence in the Elderly
Bladder Control Training: Bladder control training is the simplest and safest treatment for urinary incontinence in elderly, which can help to greatly improve bladder control.
Kegel Exercises: Pelvic muscle exercise, also known as Kegel exercises, helps to strengthen the muscles which are used to stop urination, and improve the ability of the bladder to hold urine for longer period of time. Kegel exercises are also great urinary incontinence treatment for elderly people.
Biofeedback: Biofeedback is another technique used to manage urinary incontinence in the elderly. It can be very helpful when learning pelvic muscle exercises. Biofeedback uses sensors to make one aware of signals from their body and can help the elderly regain control over the muscles in their bladder and urethra. Timed voiding can help one control their bladder too and is a good urinary incontinence treatment for elderly.
Timed Voiding: In timed voiding, a person urinates on a set schedule, like once in every hour. The time between bathroom trips can be gradually extended. When timed voiding is combined with regular pelvic muscle exercises and biofeedback, one can control urge and overflow incontinence a lot more effectively and efficiently in the elderly.
Lifestyle Modifications: Lifestyle changes can also help with treating incontinence in the elderly. Quitting smoking, losing weight, avoiding consumption of alcohol, reducing the intake of caffeine, avoiding lifting heavy weights, and preventing constipation are some lifestyle changes which can help the elderly manage their problem of incontinence, more effectively. By drinking water instead of other drinks and limiting their fluid intake before bedtime, elderly incontinence patients can further ease their condition.
Medical Treatment for Urinary Incontinence in the Elderly
Along with bladder control training, one can also manage incontinence in elderly with:
- Medicines which can help to empty the bladder more fully during urination.
- Prescriptive drugs, which can tighten the muscles and reduce urine leakage.
- Estrogen vaginal cream, which can help to relieve stress or urge incontinence in women. A small dose of estrogen cream can be applied directly to the urethral tissue and vaginal walls to control the problem of urinary incontinence in the elderly.
- A substance which can thicken the area around the urethra can also be injected to close the bladder opening and reduce stress incontinence in elderly women.
- A medical device, like a urethral insert, can be used by women to relieve unwanted leakage.
- A pessary is a stiff ring which is inserted into the vagina to help prevent leakage in women suffering from a prolapsed bladder or vagina which is causing the urinary incontinence.
- Nerve stimulation, that sends mild electric current to the nerves surrounding the bladder which help control urination, can also be used as an urinary incontinence treatment for elderly.
- Surgery can also be conducted to improve or cure urinary incontinence in elderly who have a dislodged bladder or blockage due to an enlarged prostate.
Even post treatment, some elderly people still leak urine, occasionally. There are bladder control products and other solutions, like furniture pads, adult diapers, urine deodorizing pills, and special skin cleansers which can make leaking urine a little less bothersome for the elderly individuals, as well as their near ones.