“When you gotta go, you gotta go” has been an
age old saying. These days, with our knowledge of medicine, we have
developed medications and treatments for “the urge.”
Not all urges need to be treated with
medication, but in some cases it helps. Behavioral training can
benefit any individual who feels they are making too many trips to
Our bladders hold varying amounts of liquid at
different times of the day, and depending on our age and muscle
control, we may find that we may not make it in time to empty out
what we’ve taken in. If frequency of urination is the issue, the
first step is to determine if we are drinking more than our bladder
can reasonably hold.
In Florida or any other state with a hot
climate, drinking fluids is essential. As humans, we must stay
hydrated so our body’s many systems work effectively. When the body
puts out approximately the same amount of fluid being taken in, we
have a normal balance.
When a loved one’s system is compromised by
various illnesses, fluid balance takes on an additional meaning.
The elderly patient who retains fluid and must
take diuretics will naturally make more trips to the bathroom.
Diabetics may drink more water than their counterparts of the same
age group who do not have a blood sugar disorder.
Likewise, certain drinks will create a need for
a visit to the restroom sooner. Caffeinated drinks, even those with
low caffeine content, will “open up” the kidneys. Many soft drinks
contain caffeine in various amounts, and even some brands of bottled
water are caffeinated. Label reading is important, and so is
portion control when a loved one insists on having a favorite soda.
Keeping a small log of which fluids, a ballpark
amount, and number of trips to the bathroom within the one to two
hours following consumption can help give caregivers a general idea
of what is causing the perceived overactivity. It could be the
caffeine, or the amount of liquid taken in. Sometimes people will
sip at a drink for a much longer period than seems “normal”, and it
can be stressful to monitor. Instead of hurrying up your loved one,
note the time when the drink is finished, and go from there. If a
trip to the restroom is in order before the last sip, take a general
note of how much they’ve had, and compare it to the time since the
last bathroom trip.
WHEN NOT TO FOLLOW THE URGE
At any age, we can condition ourselves and our
bladders to be emptied frequently. While it’s a good idea to void
the bladder often enough to prevent bladder irritation, having a
loved one on an hourly schedule may increase urges. It can also
condition both caregiver and loved one that any twinge is sufficient
to visit the rest room.
When someone is memory impaired, just as a
caregiver has worked to train the loved one to frequent bathroom
visits by suggesting the bathroom (or going together), the reverse
is true. Waiting five or even ten minutes longer before a bathroom
trip may help with revising frequent urges.