Deciding Which Treatment is Right for an Elderly Loved One With Incontinence

Dianna Malkowski, Physician Assistant, The CareGiver Partnership
There are basically three major components in treating incontinence, behavioral training, pharmacological, and surgical. Each of treatment type has both benefits and risks, and should be considered carefully. Caregivers and their elderly loved ones must carefully consider many factors before making a decision.
  • Behavioral training
    This is best for mild to moderate cases of incontinence. This type of treatment requires that the senior, is able to participate fully in the treatment, and take some responsibility. This also does not work for stress incontinence that generally has a physical cause. This is most helpful for overactive bladder syndrome. This type of retraining, involves adjusting your bathroom habits. You go to the bathroom on a set schedule (even if you have no urge to urinate), and then gradually increase the time between bathroom visits. This allows the bladder to fill more fully and gives the patient, more control over the urge to urinate. Exercises to improve bladder control and biofeedback also fall under this category. Kegels are the most common pelvic muscle exercise. This is an exercise where the patient uses the same muscles they would use to stop a stream of urine. They contract and hold the muscles for a few seconds. This is done 10 times, during a session. It should then be repeated at last 2 more times throughout the day. Biofeedback is a behavior therapy that is used to help train pelvic floor muscles. Sensors are placed, near the muscles that are being monitored. The sensors then transmit exertion levels to a computer, which displays the levels on the screen. This immediate feedback helps some people master Kegel exercises faster, because they can see whether they're using the correct muscles. Biofeedback can be done with a health care provider, or with a home device. The idea is that once you have had enough feedback, you can confidently do the exercises on your own without the equipment.
  • Pharmacological treatment
    There is certain drugs that can be used to treat incontinence. The senior must able to take these drugs, without the possibility of drug interaction, with other medication, and risk of complications for existing health concerns. It should be noted that there can be side-effects from these drugs, and some have only limited success in treating incontinence. The caregiver and senior should have a consultation, with a healthcare professional, to determine if this is the right treatment for the incontinence.
  • Surgical treatment
    There is also a number of surgical treatments that can be used to deal with incontinence. Caregivers should keep in mind, that this is usually a last resort, when all other types of treatment have failed to produce positive results. Surgery for incontinence is usually only done for severe cases. The type of surgery that will be done is most often specific, to the type of incontinence. Caregivers and seniors must understand that this carries, not only general surgical risk, but also risks that are specific to the type of surgery. A healthcare professional will have to evaluate the age, health status and diagnosis of incontinence, for each individual, to determine whether this is the right treatment.
Incontinence is an issue that involves a large number of caregivers and seniors. If you are part of this group you may find this a frustrating and challenging issue to deal with. understands this and has created a site to help consumers find the information and products they need to deal with incontinence, in the easiest possible way. Just click on to get started. If you have questions of a medical nature you can click on which is a page that allows customers of The CareGiver Partnership to ask questions of a Board Certified Physician Assistant and Mayo Clinic trained nutritionist.

Founder of The CareGiver Partnership
About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visit to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.


Post a Comment