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Dementia and Incontinence Treatment

by Sandra Ray, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 4)

Functional Incontinence - in this type of incontinence loss of bladder control is caused by other conditions. For example, the person who is arthritic and does not move well may develop incontinence due to their inability to get to the bathroom in time. As dementia develops over time, this type of incontinence may be more prevalent and possibly more frustrating to treat since the cause is a symptom of the underlying disease and not easily attributed to an infection or other issue.

Bowel Incontinence

This type of incontinence causes a great deal of distress for many persons with dementia and their caregivers. Bowel incontinence can be partial when only a small amount of liquid waste leaks before toileting. Complete incontinence results when the person is unable to control any aspect of the bowel movement.

Seeking Treatment

In order to understand why someone has developed incontinence, a medical exam is definitely in order. Since there may be special complications due to dementia, it is best to start with the patient’s primary physician since he or she is most familiar with the patient and their health history. He may order a visit to a urologist, a specialist in urinary conditions for men and women. It is important to remember, however, that a urologist is a surgeon and may not focus on non-surgical solutions, like the ones that will be discussed later.

When visiting the doctor, bring a description of how incontinence is affecting the patient’s life, including an overview of their daily routine. Some doctors recommend keeping a continence diary to provide a four or five day “snapshot” of what is happening at home. Be prepared to answer questions like the ones suggested by the National Association for Continence. The questions below are only a few from their suggestions.

  1. How much water does the patient drink every day?
  2. What foods is the patient eating?
  3. Does the patient have any control over urination?
  4. Is the problem better or worse during the daytime or at night?
  5. Is it linked to a physical condition (inability to move quickly, for example)?
  6. When did the incontinence first appear?
  7. Is the patient upset by their incontinence?
  8. How many episodes does the patient have and in what time period?
  9. Does the patient understand the signal or urge to urinate or are they unaware of the need?
  10. Is there a burning or painful sensation when the patient needs to urinate?

 

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