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The Challenges of Incontinence | Generations Home Care
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    A wooden figure sitting on the edge of toilet illustrating incontinence

    The bladder’s main function is to do two simple things: store and release urine. However, in order to do these two similar and very important tasks, all the parts need to be working together. The bladder muscles need to contract to force urine into the urethra. The muscles around the urethra then need to relax so that the urine can pass through. When any of those muscles aren’t working the way they should, the result is an involuntary release of urine. More commonly known as incontinence.

    Living with incontinence can seriously impact your life. Depression, stress, and social withdrawal are common among older people with loss of bladder control. Instead of shrinking away and trying to hide the problem or shrug it off as yet another complication of aging, take action and let someone know what you are dealing with. Incontinence is a common problem, with a quarter to a third of men and women reporting issues with bladder leakage in the United States.

    Causes and Types of Incontinence

    There is a wide range of causes for urinary incontinence. Unfortunately, many people wait to ask for a doctor’s help. As a result, these problems can go on, undiagnosed, much longer than necessary. Some causes of short-term incontinence are easily reversible, such as urinary tract infections, vaginal infections, and constipation. More long-lasting causes include weak bladder muscles, overactive bladder muscles, weak pelvic floor muscles, nerve damage, blockage due to an enlarged prostate, and pelvic organ prolapse.

    The main forms of urinary incontinence are:

    • Urge Incontinence is commonly referred to as an overactive bladder.
    • Stress Incontinence happens when the pressure of the abdominal muscles is greater than the muscles that close the bladder. An example is when coughing or sneezing results in leakage.
    • Overflow Incontinence evolves from a blockage or extremely weak contractions. The result is a bladder that never completely empties.
    • Functional Incontinence results from complications from disabilities such as arthritis or stroke. Reduced mobility and cognitive function make it difficult to access the restroom in time.

    If you live with one of the four common types of incontinence, you may feel yourself coping with a lot of potential embarrassment and stress. No one wants to be caught in public with bladder leakage, and it’s important to keep shame from preventing you from talking with a healthcare professional. While incontinence is not always reversible, doctors can help treat and control the symptoms. Particularly if seniors address them before they become more severe.

    The Physical and Mental Impacts of Incontinence

    The average time a person experiencing incontinence waits to seek help is six years. That’s a long time to suffer silently, and it is also a long time for the condition to worsen and lead to other health issues.

    For many people suffering from incontinence, an extra set of hands and a little encouragement from a caregiver is all it takes to ensure proper hygiene. Staying clean and dry helps eliminate over-exposure to moisture leading to skin infections such as incontinence dermatitis, and bacterial and fungal infections. The support of caregivers is especially crucial in preventing these easily avoidable problems for those unable to care completely for themselves. 

    Physical Impacts

    The loss of physical activity is another health concern relating to incontinence. Over 20% of women report a reduced level of physical activity because of urinary incontinence. That’s because it’s difficult to commit to regular exercise when you’re worried about wetting yourself or quickly accessing a bathroom. Women of all ages acknowledge that they can no longer do certain physical activities without fear of bladder leakage. An active lifestyle is one of the most critical factors in healthy aging. When this is taken away because of fear of bladder leakage, the consequence is an increased likelihood of osteoporosis, hypertension, and heart disease.

    Reducing physical activity can also contribute to an increased risk for falls. Urgent and frequent trips to the bathroom often result in not paying careful attention to your surroundings. To get to the restroom quickly, the chance of tripping or losing balance increases. If you happen to be dealing with mobility issues resulting from arthritis or neuropathy, the risk is even higher. 

    Mental Impacts

    Living with incontinence takes a mental toll on many people as well. The shame and embarrassment of being unable to control your bladder can lead to isolation as a way of trying to preserve dignity. However, eliminating physical and social activities increases depression and anxiety.

    With proper care in the form of medications, exercise, and products like adult diapers and pads, incontinence can be controlled so that it doesn’t control your life. Trusting in healthcare professionals and caretakers will help you find ways to cope with leakage on a day-to-day basis. 

    No one should feel like they can no longer do the things that bring them joy because of incontinence. Trying to hide or avoid the issue only results in increased health complications and a less vibrant life. Sometimes it helps to remember that you are not alone, which also means you do not need to carry this burden alone. 

    About Generations Home Care

    Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and more independent life.

    Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.

    Our Specialty Services Include:

    • Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
    • Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
    • Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
    • Veteran’s connection to care program.
    • Live-in services and couples care.

    If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.

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