Adult Incontinence

Managing Incontinence at Home




Adult incontinence, the loss of bowel and bladder control, is not a normal sign of aging. Many people mistakenly believe that it is and that there is no help to either decrease episodes or eliminate them all together.

By understanding the common causes of incontinence, you will be able to see that incontinence is not a normal part of the aging process and can be effectively managed at home.


There is an increased risk of falls associated with incontinence, especially episodes that occur primarily at night. This condition is referred to as nocturia. Click on the link provided to review common causes and some management strategies to handle this unique issue.

Bladder incontinence is the most common. Approximately 25 million Americans suffer from adult incontinence. The majority of those are women, making up eighty percent of all incontinent adults.

Bowel incontinence, although not as common and can be associated with diarrhea , causes more difficulties for both the person and the caregiver.

The social costs (let alone the financial costs) of incontinence are high, with even those with mild symptoms reporting that incontinence affects their personal, sexual, interpersonal and relationship portions of their lives.

Most people who suffer from incontinence wait years before informing their doctor. Just because your loved one who suffers from adult incontinence is seeing a doctor, don't assume the subject has come up during routine appointments. Please encourage them to inform their doctors, or if they are unable, go to the doctor with them to discuss the subject.

There are a variety of ways to manage incontinence in the home. Some simple and relatively inexpensive options are:

A word of caution. The word "diaper" creates negative feelings for many adults. It is what it is .... but find another word to describe the product if you can. Our staff was always told to use the word "depends" or "briefs", even though the product we used wasn't always actual Depends. You may have an easier time bringing the subject up if you don't use the word "diaper".

Always remember the social implications of incontinence and adjust your choice of words to make social comfort a priority.

There are different types of adult incontinence and it is important to try and decipher what type, or combination of types, your loved one has. Simply doing that can make management much easier. Will a toileting schedule work? Is your loved one experiencing nocturia ( frequent episodes at night )? Would a condom catheter be a workable solution?

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) , bedsores, skin care and odor control are all important factors to consider if your loved one suffers from adult incontinence. Urinary tract infections, also known as bladder infections, can be both a cause and a complication of incontinence.

It is worth repeating a second (and even a third or fourth time), that your doctor must be aware of this issue. There are appropriate and critical tests that need to be run to determine if there is a treatable medical cause. Most are noninvasive, requiring only a sample of urine and/or stool. Make a note to remind yourself and if you haven't already, talk to your doctor. Once causes such as infection or structural issues are resolved, you can then move on to some of the management ideas here to make life easier for both your loved one and you.

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