Call for Consultation:(650) 722-2766
According to WebMD, over 50% of older Americans struggle with bladder and/or bowel incontinence. This is a highly prevalent health issue that many believe is a normal part of aging. Although it is common in older adults, it can occur at any age and should not simply be accepted as a normal part of aging.
Incontinence is not alway addressed for many reasons: It can be uncomfortable to admit you suffer from it. You may assume it’s just old age. If you’ve chosen to live with incontinence, or you’ve assumed your aging loved one will always struggle with this, there may actually be treatment options. It’s important to discuss any changes with your medical care providers.
We may experience urinary and/or bowel regularity concerns long before old age. Imagine if a parent gave up and assumed their child would always be a bed-wetter. Even though it may take work, no parent simply gives up and assumes their child will just always wear diapers. Pregnancy and childbirth is also an example of a life-stage that may bring some incontinence and/or changes in bowel and bladder habits. Women are typically encouraged to drink more water, do specific exercises to strengthen their pelvic muscles, etc because these changes, although very real, should not become permanent. If you have ever undergone a medical procedure that requires anesthesia or pain medication, you might have experienced constipation or other bowel changes as a side effect. Again, although these are expected side-effects, they should not become long-term.
These are just a few instances that could fall under the category of incontinence. The difference in these versus age-related incontinence is that we usually recognize these changes right away and look for solutions because we recognize that they aren’t normal. When old-age isn’t a factor we are less likely to accept bladder and/or bowel incontinence. Let’s maintain high standards as we age. Bladder and bowel incontinence is not shameful. It is an indicator that some part of our body is not functioning optimally, whether that be due to a physical issue or a mental issue.
For an individual who struggles simply because they are physically slower due to Parkinson’s disease, arthritis or other ailments, practicing a regular schedule of visiting the toilet can be helpful. At home keep pathways to the bathroom clear and well-lit. Wear undergarments and clothing that are easy to get on and off. Offer such garments for aging loved ones. Even an individual suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia will benefit from a routine that allows regular scheduled trips to the restroom. Physical therapy is a great option for individuals who have noticed loss of bowel and bladder control but have no underlying disease or illness as a factor. Other options include medications and medical devices, behavioral therapy, and fluid and diet management.
None of this is possible though if you don’t address your incontinence. Talk to you doctor about it. Ask for help from caregivers, loved ones, and other medical providers. Your lifestyle might not be the same as when you were young but it is not all or nothing. You can choose a better outcome for your life, and the lives of your aging loved ones.
DISCLAIMER: This article contains information that is intended to help the readers be better informed regarding exercise and health care. It is presented as general advice on health care. Always consult your doctor for your individual needs. Before beginning any new exercise program it is recommended that you seek medical advice from your personal physician. This article is not intended to be a substitute for the medical advice of a licensed physician. The reader should consult with their doctor in any matters relating to his/her health.