Incontinence / Dementia & Incontinence Treatment |
by Sandra Ray, Staff Writer
Dementia is a devastating disease
that affects approximately 24 million people
worldwide; its most common form, Alzheimerís
disease, affects more than 4.5 million people in the
U.S. according to the Alzheimerís Association. The
disease slowly robs individuals of their memory,
cognitive functioning, and eventually renders the
person almost completely dependent upon others for
their daily care. Though the causes are not
completely understood, caregivers feel the strain of
the disease daily as they help those affected with
dementia to navigate the simplest of tasks such as
getting dressed or eating meals.
Urinary and fecal incontinence can
also be present in those who are affected with
dementia. Though this loss in bodily functioning may
be inevitable, it can be uncomfortable and
embarrassing to the patient and the caregiver.
Incontinence can be caused by a variety of issues,
and it may help to understand some of those causes
to help the household cope with it. The National
Association for Continence (www.nafc.org) relates
that most people wait an average of seven years
before seeking treatment. This delay in seeking help
often exacerbates an already stressful situation for
both patients and caregivers.
In its simplest form, urinary
incontinence is when someone does not have complete
control over when he or she urinates. It may appear
due to several reasons, and to make certain which
one it is, the patient should be examined by a
physician as soon as possible.
Stress Incontinence - women who have
had a baby or two may understand this type of
incontinence the best. A forceful sneeze or cough
may cause urine leakage since the muscles in the
pelvic region can be loosened by childbirth.
Normally Kegel exercises (tightening and releasing
the pelvic muscles several times per day) can
provide some strengthening, although it may not work for all women.
Urge Incontinence - the urge to
urinate may develop suddenly, resulting in urine
leakage. Many people who have this type of
incontinence are not given ample warning to get
to the bathroom in time before leakage occurs.
It is fairly common in the elderly, although it
can be a sign of a bladder or kidney infection.
If an infection is causing the incontinence,
antibiotics can generally clear up the condition
within a short period of time.
Overflow Incontinence - this type of
incontinence is more common in men than women
and results from an overfull bladder that does
not empty effectively. It results in urine
leaking on almost a continual basis. A blockage
in the urinary tract system is generally the
cause, like an enlarged prostate or other
obstruction. A physical exam is a must for this
type of incontinence in order to accurately
diagnose and treat the condition.