Renae Diggles

February 11, 2021

Managing Urinary Incontinence as You Age

Renae Diggles

February 11, 2021

Urinary incontinence is a health condition that affects many older people. Unfortunately, it’s a subject that isn’t readily discussed, and consequently, many people try to manage the condition without support. Fortunately, there is help available to help you manage urinary incontinence.

Urinary Incontinence Explained

Urinary incontinence occurs when you have accidental leakage of urine. It affects both men and women and is more common among older people. Its prevalence is greater increased among people living with co-morbidities (other chronic health conditions.)

Visit Your Doctor for Incontinence

It’s a good idea to visit your G.P. if you’re struggling to empty your bladder. Additionally, if you’re urinating more frequently than usual, a G.P. can start investigating the underlying cause. Treatments are available for many conditions, including diabetes and urinary tract infections. Also, if you’re urgently needing to urinate on a regular basis, you really should visit the doctor.  There could be an underlying cause that requires treatment, therefore, any changes in urination shouldn’t be left alone.

Continence Assessments

If you have urinary incontinence, initially you’d talk with your doctor. Although you might feel embarrassed to discuss such matters, there is support and treatments available. Your doctor can arrange for you to have a continence assessment with a continence nurse. the trained nurse will help you to form a continence management plan to meet your specific requirements.

Continence Assessment Explained

During a continence assessment, the nurse looks at your health history and discusses your current incontinence concerns. Matters for discussion include how frequently you pass urine. They will also want to know how much urine you’re passing at one time. Other issues to discuss include the odour of your urine, the colour of it, and if you experience any pain when you go to the bathroom. The nurse will also want to know if you feel the urge to urinate.

Medications also impact urinary frequency and urgency, therefore the nurse will want to see a  list of your current medications. That way, they can ascertain if any of your regular or short-term medications are affecting frequency, quantity, and urgency.  Furthermore, a continence nurse will ask about the volume of fluid you’re drinking each day and what’s in your basic daily diet too.

Finally, the nurse will want to know how you’re managing your incontinence currently. They’ll also speak with you about how this is affecting your daily life. While some of these questions are invasive, the purpose is to improve your health outcomes and aid in the management of urinary incontinence.

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Why Do You Have Urinary Incontinence?

There are several reasons that people experience urinary incontinence. Through continence assessments, investigations, and diagnoses, the treatment and management of urinary incontinence can begin.

A common investigation for incontinence is a basic urine test where you pee into a cup and the doctor or pathologist tests your urine to look for abnormalities. An ultrasound of the bladder is also a common procedure for investigating issues with urinating. It’s non-invasive and involves a doppler being placed on the lower abdomen where the bladder is positioned to register the quantity of urine that you’re currently holding in your bladder. You’ll usually have to measure the amount of urine that you’re passing, and the frequency too. These procedures are the first steps in diagnosis in order to put together an appropriate treatment plan.

Managing Incontinence

You don’t have to live with unmanaged urinary Incontinence as there are good treatments available. In some cases, incontinence is curable, but in other cases, there are treatment plans to improve outcomes and adequately manage symptoms.

The treatment plan for urinary incontinence strongly depends on what is causing it. There are things that you can do including pelvic floor exercises. The doctor could also put you on a bladder training program. In more challenging cases, there are medications that your doctor could prescribe to help manage your incontinence. Moreover, your current medications might exacerbate the symptoms, and require altering.

In some cases, managing incontinence might involve wearing incontinence underwear or pads. Fortunately, there’s been product improvement over the years, and are far more discreet and slim-lined than once before.

For some people, there’s a deeper underlying cause for urinary incontinence. In those cases, your G.P. will refer you to a Urologist for further investigations, diagnosis, and treatment. Rest assured that there’s usually a way to treat and manage incontinence with the assistance of a multidisciplinary team of health professionals.

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Getting Help

If you’re living with urinary incontinence go to your regular doctor first. They’ll help you to arrange an assessment with a continence nurse.

Alternatively, there’s a Continence helpline that you can call on 1800 330 066. The helpline has continence nurses who can provide advice to you. You could also take a look at The Continence Foundation of Australia which has a deal of helpful information on how to manage urinary incontinence.

Finally, if you’re worried about the cost of managing urinary incontinence, there’s government funding available for eligible people through the Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS). For those older Australians who receive a home care package, speak to your home care package coordinator about funding to manage incontinence. Through a home care package, you could have an assessment from a continence nurse. You could go on a continence management plan, and you could receive funding for the provision of continence aids in certain circumstances. Remember that help and support are available.


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