5 facts seniors should know about urinary incontinence

As we get older, urinary incontinence (UI) becomes a reality for many seniors. This can be both inconvenient and embarrassing. Fortunately, urinary incontinence isn't an inevitable result of aging. For many seniors, simple lifestyle and dietary changes can help alleviate UI. If you or your loved one are concerned about urinary incontinence, read on to find out more about its causes, symptoms and treatments.
1. What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence refers to the loss of bladder control resulting in the involuntary leakage of urine. It’s a common yet uncomfortable problem for many people in their older years. UI ranges in severity from small to moderate leaks (especially when coughing or sneezing) to a sudden, strong urge to urinate that can’t be controlled long enough to reach the toilet.
2. Are there different types of urinary incontinence?

There are a number of different types of UI:

  • Stress incontinence is when urine leaks due to increased pressure on the bladder when coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting heavy objects.
  • Urge incontinence is a sudden intense need to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine. This may be coupled with the need to urinate often, including during the night.
  • Overflow incontinence is the frequent or constant leaking of urine due to a bladder that doesn't empty completely.
  • Functional incontinence is a result of a physical or mental impairment that prevents a person from reaching the toilet in time.
  • Mixed incontinence is a combination of types of urinary incontinence. This is most often a mix of stress and urge incontinence.
  • 3. Who is most likely to suffer from urinary incontinence?
    Some seniors are more likely to suffer from UI than others. For instance, women are more likely to have stress incontinence due to pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. Men who have prostate gland problems are also at risk of urge and overflow incontinence. Age is another obvious factor, as the bladder and urethra muscles become weaker over time. Being overweight adds extra pressure on the bladder and surrounding muscles, causing them to weaken and resulting in stress incontinence. Smokers experience a greater risk of incontinence too, while certain neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, dementia and multiple sclerosis are contributing factors. Lastly, a family history of UI can also be an indicator.
    4. What other factors contribute towards urinary incontinence?
    In addition to the demographic and health indicators listed above, there are a few other factors that may lead to temporary urinary incontinence. For instance, certain drinks, foods and medications such as caffeine, alcohol, sedatives and large doses of Vitamin C, may act as diuretics that stimulate the bladder and increase the volume of urine. Symptoms will lessen once the contributing factors have been removed.
    5. Is there a way to avoid urinary incontinence?
    Urinary incontinence isn't always preventable. But there are ways to reduce the risk. Maintaining a healthy weight and diet are important. Eating more fibre to avoid constipation, and avoiding diuretics such as caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods also help. Practicing pelvic floor exercises (known as Kegels), and quitting smoking are also recommended.
    At Totalcare, we offer eight all-inclusive retirement villages complete with everything residents need for a healthy lifestyle. Our dedicated dieticians prepare nutritionally balanced meals prepared according to the specific needs of seniors. Our nurses and care team understand the signs and symptoms of urinary incontinence and are equipped to manage them. Residents also have access to a doctor, occupational therapist and support services to administer any medical care required.
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    Urinary incontinence (UI) is common in older people. There are a number of reasons why seniors may develop urinary incontinence, and while there are no medicinal treatments for it, UI can be managed through some practical interventions. Read more here.