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Dementia and Incontinence Treatment
By Sandra Ray, Staff Writer

(Page 1 of 4)

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.

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Urinary Incontinence

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.

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