Incontinence can be an inconvenient and frustrating condition that really affects the life of a senior. Severe symptoms can prevent them from living their lives how they want and even keep them from their favorite activities.
The causes of incontinence are not well known. Sometimes it can be triggered by an infection, or it can be a side effect of a medication. Other times seniors begin experiencing it with no warning or explanation at all.
The good news is that there are several elderly incontinence treatments available today, from natural training and lifestyle changes to medication and surgery. Most medical professionals recommend starting with non-invasive treatments before moving on to more involved courses of action.
As always, consult your doctor before beginning any type of new treatment. Here are a few of the most effective elderly incontinence treatments.
Believe it or not, simple lifestyle changes can be an effective treatment for incontinence. Sometimes it can take some trial and error to find out which foods or habits make a difference, but sticking with these changes can lead to effective and permanent results.
Refine Your Diet
Some foods and drinks like spicy foods, carbonated drinks, and high-acid foods are thought to make incontinence worse. Pay attention to your incontinence after you’ve had these foods.
If you notice symptoms are worse, try cutting back on these foods. You may want to try cutting out one food group at a time to narrow down exactly what is causing your symptoms to worsen.
Cut Back on Alcohol and Caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine can make symptoms of incontinence worse and may even be to blame for the onset of the condition in the first place. It may seem like a drastic lifestyle change to cut out alcohol and caffeine, but committing to this lifestyle change is one of the most effective elderly incontinence treatments.
Change What You Drink and How Much
Excessive fluid intake is a big contributing factor to incontinence. Monitor how much fluid you are taking in, and carefully cut back over the course of days or weeks depending on the advice of your doctor.
You should also consider adding more cranberry juice to your daily fluid intake. The acidic balance in cranberry juice is often effective in improving bladder function.
The body is incredibly resilient, and it can learn new things no matter how old you are. Bladder control training is a common elderly incontinence treatment because it is natural and doesn’t require medications or other medical interventions. There are several ways to train your bladder.
Sometimes bladder urges and leaks happen in a pattern — you just have to recognize it. Time tracking involves charting urination and leaking over a period of days or weeks to look for a pattern.
Once a pattern appears, you can ensure you are using the bathroom at the right times to avoid leaks. Creating a consistent schedule also helps to control urge and train the pelvic muscles.
Biofeedback is something humans do all the time without realizing it, but it can be done intentionally to help seniors manage incontinence symptoms. There are several signals that seniors can learn to look for, which can then be connected to action to train the body over time.
Pelvic Muscle Exercises
Pelvic muscles are a critical part of controlling incontinence, as you use these muscles to stop urinating. As seniors age, these muscles can become weaker and/or harder to control at will.
Making these muscles stronger can make it easier to hold your bladder longer and can lessen urge incontinence. A doctor or physical therapist can give exact directions on the best way to exercise these muscles. These exercises can be done from anywhere and may be recommended several times a day.
While natural treatments are always preferable, sometimes lifestyle changes and training just aren’t enough to treat incontinence. There are several other medical alternatives that may be recommended by your doctor.
There are several drugs on the market that can help relieve incontinence. Some of them stop unwanted bladder contractions and others help relax or tighten muscles. While medication can be an effective elderly incontinence treatment, some medications have side effects that you should discuss thoroughly with your doctor.
Doctors can inject an implant that helps close the urethra and reduce stress incontinence. This is an easy, outpatient procedure, but it may have to be repeated regularly as the body will try to get rid of the implant.
A pessary is a small patch insert that can be placed inside the body to help relieve stress incontinence. The placement of the patch can be more invasive than some implants, but it is a more permanent and sometimes effective solution to relieve symptoms.
Sometimes incontinence is caused by a fundamental change in the body, such as a blockage or a change in the position of the bladder. Unfortunately, no amount of lifestyle change or training will be sufficient to resolve these underlying issues, and surgery may be appropriate.
Surgery can resolve blockages or even move the bladder and secure it, which can permanently relieve symptoms of incontinence.
Incontinence Is Manageable and Treatable
Seniors struggling with incontinence can often feel like it is a condition they will simply have to live with. However, not making an effort to relieve symptoms can sometimes make incontinence worse over time.
Learning to manage incontinence or finding a treatment that works is not an overnight cure, but it can be done with perseverance and help from your doctor.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.