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The Inconvenience of Incontinence

By Kristine Dwyer, Staff Writer

(Page 3 of 4)

Across the country, physical therapists, as well as occupational therapists and registered nurses, are now becoming specifically trained in exercise therapy and continence re-training programs. Once a cause for incontinence is determined, an individual program is devised. Patients meet with therapists, learn how their bladder works and what steps to take to retrain and manage their bladder health. The program lasts from four to twelve weeks. By using exercises supported by biofeedback methods (a therapy that uses measuring devices or sensors to help you learn to identify and control the bladder muscles), physical therapists and the like are now able to help patients of all ages.

Re-training and strengthening pelvic floor muscles can help patients improve their bladder control. Lifestyle changes such as relaxation, decreased caffeine consumption, monitored diet and fluid intake, knowledge of proper lifting techniques and daily exercise can also positively impact bladder health.

Therapists report that even the smallest changes or adjustments in one’s daily life can be very beneficial in treating incontinence. In addition, catching the problem early and seeking a physical therapy consultation are important steps toward treatment or management of incontinence issues.

Physical therapists report that the most difficult issues to conquer with patients are embarrassment, social isolation and the loss of independence that can result from bladder control problems. Patients often feel depressed and withdraw from social connections and opportunities. They fear losing bladder control and avoid spending time away from home. Hygienic considerations such as body odor and skin irritations, as well as having easy access to a bathroom, also impact one’s comfort level outside of the home environment. It is also worth noting that the person with incontinence may lose their ability to smell the odor of urine. This is a sensitive point for caregivers to realize as they are providing care and encouraging good personal hygiene.

Caregiving suggestions for oneself and the care receiver include: Monitor fluid intake; focus on adequate water intake vs. juices, carbonated drinks, caffeine and alcohol. Cut back on fluids in the evening hours.

Exercise together and promote daily weight bearing (standing) to maintain pelvic control muscles.

Use personal care absorbent products, bed and furniture pads and plastic sheets.

Make sure an adequate supply of pads/sheets is available to avoid additional strain and reduce laundering.


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