“I know where every bathroom is at the mall, and my wife rolls her eyes every time I have to visit one when we just arrived – even after I went before leaving the house! What can I expect? Most old guys are in the same boat!”
If you opened this article, you probably relate to the quote above, and you’re not unlike millions of other older adults.
Incontinence doesn’t always mean wetting yourself. It can involve urgent needs to use the toilet, frequent bathroom trips, or losing tiny amounts of urine with certain activities.
Incontinence is more than inconvenient; it can be life-altering, leading to early retirement or social withdrawal, depression, and loss of independent function. Important incontinence stats include:
- 1 in 3 older women and 1 in 12 older men have lower urinary tract symptoms that can include incontinence
- Urinary incontinence cost the US economy $66 billion in 2012
- 6-10% of nursing home admissions are due to urinary incontinence
- Only 22% of men with urinary incontinence seek help for the problem, as compared to 45% of women
For this reason, in geriatrics, we often ask our patients about incontinence.
A while back I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Adrian Wagg, a Geriatrician-Internist and international expert in urinary incontinence. You can listen to this interview, and find out how to download a transcript of it here. In this article, I’ll share some of his insights about the management of incontinence in older adults, and why it remains undertreated too often.
In particular, I’ll cover:
- How urinary function changes with age
- Types and causes of urinary incontinence in both men and women
- What to do if you’re experiencing urinary incontinence and want help
- How to help manage urinary incontinence in an older person you’re caring for