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Managing Incontinence In The Elderly

What Is Incontinence?

Incontinence is the loss of bowel or bladder control, and can be a difficult subject to broach as it can be sensitive and embarrassing. It is generally experienced by elderly people; amongst people over the age of 65 in the UK, an estimated 25% have bladder issues and 10% face bowel problems. Yet often little is done to help people live with incontinence from day to day, meaning it can often have a bigger impact on a person’s life than it needs to.

What Causes Incontinence In The Elderly?

There are a number of possible reasons as to why an individual might experience a loss of bowel or bladder control. If you or an elderly loved one is experiencing incontinence, your first move should be to contact your GP to determine what might be causing it. There are several medical conditions which can initiate or exacerbate incontinence, including urinary tract infections, MS, prolapse, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, weakened pelvic muscles and prostrate problems.

People with types of dementia are also susceptible to incontinence, especially as their condition develops. However, it shouldn’t be assumed that the two are linked, and a medical professional or specialist dementia carer should be consulted in case of potential infection.

How Can You Help An Older Person Manage Their Incontinence?

It’s not always easy to help an elderly person manage their incontinence, because it’s often a topic that people try to avoid discussing. However, it’s important that you do address the issue and have a sensitive but firm conversation about finding ways to help manage what can be a crippling condition.

Start by contacting your loved one’s GP to establish the cause of the problem. Your GP may refer you to an NHS Continence Clinic for support, and you can also contact the Bladder and Bowel Foundation for assistance – although this is unavailable in some areas, and isn’t always a free service.

If you’re taking responsibility for your loved one’s care, you’ll need to make sure they’re kept properly hydrated throughout the day. People with bladder control problems often drink less water to counter their issues; an elderly person should drink around 1.5-2 litres of fluid every day, and you need to ensure they’re consuming enough. Also make sure their diet contains lots of fibre, as this helps minimise the risk of constipation.


There are many products available for helping people living with incontinence, both through the NHS and privately.

Bed pads and underwear come in disposable and washable varieties – it’s worth noting that some people find one to be more comfortable than the other, so consider doing a ‘trial run’ before deciding whether to go disposable or washable. Washable products are likely to be a more cost-effective option in the long run, but ultimately your loved one’s comfort is the primary goal.

Incontinence pants are also a useful product in many instances. They come in multiple shapes and sizes and are designed to be worn like regular underwear, but offer the security of highly absorbent built-in pads to provide discretion and protection. Incontinence pads are particularly popular among more active people who might experience a loss of bowel or bladder control whilst on the move.

You might also wish to consider waterproof covers for chairs, and specialist skincare products such as wipes and creams. And, in extreme instances, your loved one might be required to have a catheter, which will be inserted and removed by qualified healthcare professionals and carers.

Care Options

Asking a loved one for support with incontinence can often be difficult. Fortunately, care providers such as Helping Hands can offer trained, professional carers who are able to provide discreet, sensitive incontinence care.

There’s absolutely no shame in needing a hand with personal hygiene and medication, and our carers will make sure you feel comfortable and secure. A little bit of assistance can go a long way in boosting your self confidence and giving you a much better quality of life, rather than living in a constant state of worry.

Arrange Elderly Incontinence Care With Helping Hands Today

At Helping Hands, all of our private carers receive full training in areas personal care, including continence care. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your loved one with incontinence or elderly care, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly customer support team today – they’re available to talk to seven days a week, and are always more than happy to assist with any queries you may have. Alternatively, you can contact us via our website to arrange a call back at your convenience.