Urinary incontinence or UI is a condition shared by over 50 percent of our aging population. This condition has a major impact on everyone who suffers from it. Adults of any age can have UI, which is the inability to control urine leakage, but it occurs more often in older adults. Women experience UI twice as much as men. Accidentally wetting yourself or wetting your bed once or twice is one thing. Still, it negatively affects the elderly’s quality of life emotionally, physically, and financially when it becomes an everyday occurrence.
The most common causes of UI
Contrary to popular belief, urinary incontinence is not normal. However, it can be a continuing condition or a temporary condition. Causes of UI in women are associated with thinning or drying of the vaginal wall or the urethra, a tube that urine flows through from the bladder. This usually happens after menopause in women over 50. UI in women can also occur when the pelvic muscles stretch after giving birth. It can start with a few droplets and progress to an uncontrollable urgency where the loss of control allows urine to flow freely.
The most common causes of urinary incontinence in men are associated with an enlarged prostate and prostate surgery. Like in women, urinary incontinence leakage after treatment for an enlarged prostate or removing a cancerous prostate can start as a dribble and progress to an all-out full flow. Another common cause of UI is obesity. Being overweight puts added pressure on the bladder, thus enabling it to control urine flow normally. Medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and Dementia are also causes of UI.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
There are five types of urinary incontinence. These five types include urge, overflow, functional, stress, and mixed incontinence.
- Urge incontinence occurs when the urge is instant, and the urine leakage is uncontrollable. With urge incontinence, the need to go is more frequent, especially throughout the night. This type of incontinence is found more often in people with diabetes, neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, or suffering from a urinary tract infection.
- Stress incontinence happens after a sneeze, a cough, or after exercising.
- Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder doesn’t completely void all urine. Urine dribbles, causing an extra urine flow.
- Functional incontinence happens when a physical condition like arthritis prevents you from making it to the toilet before urine begins to flow.
- Mixed incontinence is experiencing one or two of the above types.
Older adults living with one or more of this type of urinary incontinence are going through life-changing events. The majority of these sufferers go for long periods of time, never mentioning it to their doctors or loved ones. Their reluctance to discuss their condition prevents them from seeking treatment and affects their physical, emotional, and financial well-being, according to the National Association for Continence (NAFC).
How Urinary Incontinence Affects Patients’ Quality of Life
One way urinary incontinence affects the quality of life for those living with the condition is physical. In addition to the embarrassment of wetting yourself, your furniture, and your bed lining, there is an increased possibility of developing skin, bacterial or fungal infections. These infections can occur because of moisture left on the skin too long or bacteria growth. Accidental falls occur more often in older adults with urinary incontinence. The rush to get to the bathroom can result in an older person accidentally falling when tripping over furniture or rugs. Another physical change occurs when urinary incontinence sufferers avoid going out or eliminate exercising altogether because of embarrassing accidental leakage.
Refusing to go out, keeping their secret from others, or completely isolating themselves because of urinary incontinence leads to emotional changes. Men and women who eliminate social activities and eliminate spending time with friends and family develop anxiety and depression. Furthermore, people who care for individuals with urinary incontinence over time find themselves having psychological issues.
Finally, the financial problems are enormous. A study was done in 2000 by the National Association for Continence that estimated the cost of urinary incontinence was $19.5 billion overall, and individually, women spend on average $900 per year for things like incontinence production products, dry cleaning, medical treatments, and lost revenue due to missing work. This cost only goes up over time as the urinary incontinence continues.
There are practical solutions to help alleviate some of these problems. The very first thing to do is discuss with your doctor. Urinary incontinence is not a normal condition, and there are treatment options your doctor may offer. Another solution would be to join an online support group. This option may help you eliminate stress about your condition. To help reduce the financial burden, save money by purchasing reusable incontinence products. Although disposable incontinence products are helpful, the cost to purchase them over time becomes expensive. Furthermore, the impact that disposable incontinence products place on the environment is not worth it. Reusable incontinence underwear for men and reusable incontinence for women not only saves you money but is also very comfortable, affordable, and environmentally friendly.
Again, if you or your loved one develop a urinary incontinence problem, first discuss it with your doctor. Your doctor is the very best resource for help with the condition. Remain active. Do not allow the possibility of embarrassing wetness to prevent you from maintaining an active lifestyle. And finally, look into purchasing reusable and washable incontinence products designed to manage uncontrollable urinary leakage. TheElderExpo.com is a great place to start searching for these unique products.