PLYMOUTH — Urinary incontinence is an issue that more than half of seniors deal with, and it can affect health, social connections and self-esteem. Managing incontinence is critical for seniors that want to maintain their independence and quality of life while remaining in their home.

While incontinence is a highly prevalent issue, it’s important to remember that incontinence is treatable, and a physician can make recommendations based on the type of incontinence they diagnose.

Why does incontinence happen? During urination, muscles in the bladder tighten to move urine into a tube called the urethra, while the muscles around the urethra relax and let the urine pass out of the body. When the muscles in and around the bladder don’t work properly, urine can leak. Incontinence can occur for short periods of time due to urinary tract infections, constipation, or as a side effect of a medication.

How is incontinence diagnosed and treated? Depending on the severity of the problem, a doctor may recommend:

  • A urinalysis to rule out infection or blood in the urine
  • Blood tests to check on kidney function, calcium and glucose levels
  • A complete physical exam and thorough discussion of one's medical history
  • Medicine that calms muscles and nerves to treat an overactive bladder
  • Exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles

If other treatments fail, surgery may be suggested to improve bladder control.

How can incontinence be managed at home? There are a few lifestyle changes that can help manage incontinence:

  • Pelvic muscle exercises: Working the muscles that can stop urination can have a positive effect in reducing incontinence
  • Timed bathroom breaks: Going to the restroom on a schedule can help those with urge and overflow incontinence.
  • Fluid and diet management: Avoid food and drinks that irritate the bladder. It’s important for seniors to discuss their diet and fluid intake with the doctor before making any changes.
  • Behavioral changes: There are some habits that can make incontinence worse, including smoking, drinking alcohol, lifting objects that are too heavy and consuming caffeine.

If a loved one has specific care needs related to a health issue, like incontinence, Comfort Keepers can help. Caregivers can provide transportation to appointments, medication reminders, support for physician-recommended diet and exercise programs, and help monitor physical changes and symptoms. Comfort Keepers strives to elevate the human spirit through quality, compassionate, joyful care.

To learn more about in-home care services, call 603-536-6060 or visit www.comfortkeepers.com/plymouthnh.

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