This is apparent in large proportion of elderly individuals who gets admitted to hospital for treatment and the incidence is rather high among the females than among males. Although this symptom would not affect the physical health of a person if managed appropriately, it can severely disrupt the life style and the psychological well being of an elderly person or in any person for that matter.
When considering the causes for urinary incontinence among elderly individuals, age related pelvic floor weakness, anatomical susceptibility as in the females, surgical interventions which would make the sphincter mechanisms and constrictor muscles weak, persistent chronic coughs, constipation which would require lot of staining, neurological abnormalities, inappropriate use of medications such as diuretics or ‘water pills’ and urinary tract infections can be identified being common. Thus, in order to avoid incontinence in this age group, the underlying risk factors needs to be recognized and appropriate measures should be adapted for risk reduction.
Among the measures that can be taken to reduce the risks of occurring incontinence, following can be highlighted,
- Do pelvic floor exercises well in advance to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor which would prevent leakage of urine by maintaining the tonicity of the sphincter mechanism. Kegel Exercises would be one such method that can be adapted which would be rather useful in elderly individuals.
- Avoid smoking, heavy alcohol intake as well as consuming excessive amounts of caffeine as they have shown to be influencing the ability to control passage of urine.
- Avoid being constipated with inclusion of adequate amounts of vegetables, fruits and a fair amount of water to the daily consumption.
- Make use of exercises other than pelvic floor exercises to promote bowel movements as well as to improve overall fitness.
- Obtain treatment to avoid chronic or persisting coughs, to correct blood sugar levels in diabetes as well as to reduce the size of a prostate which may give rise to overflow incontinence in a later time.
- Take professional advice in revising the drugs that is being taken by an elderly individual to avoid inappropriate use of drugs which might lead to incontinence, increased frequency of passing urine and sometimes constipation.
- Lessening the risk of developing a stroke would also contribute towards preventing an elderly person from developing incontinence as it is a major contributor for incontinence among elderly individuals.
Although these measures can have a useful effect in many instances, there may be a possibility of some elderly individuals persistently being incontinent and are unable to take measures to improve the condition. In such instances, depending on the circumstances, appropriate measures are needed to reduce the discomforts in such persons at all times.