Older women with urge incontinence may be more likely
to fall and fracture a bone compared to women who are not urge
incontinent, according to a new study. Although slip and falls are common
health concerns for older women, their risk of falling increases if they
also have urge incontinence.
The study conducted by researchers at the University of California, San
Francisco discovered, women who feel a strong need to urinate and have
urine leakage before getting to the bathroom, increase their risk of
falling by 26% and their risk of fracturing a bone by 34%. Researchers
studied more than 6,000 women aged 72 and older, with frequent urinary
incontinence. The study was published in the July issue of the Journal of
the American Geriatrics Society.
Urge incontinence is a common condition for older women occurring in up to
40% of women over the age of 60. Falls are also a frequent problem in the
elderly population. In fact, falls affect one out of three people ages 65
and older each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
They rate as the most widely seen cause of injuries and hospital
admissions for trauma. In addition, falling and fracturing a bone can
change someoneís life forever. About half of older adults who are
hospitalized with a hip fracture, are unable to live independently again.
A person with urge incontinence may feel an overwhelming compulsion to
empty their bladder, if it contains urine. This increases the likelihood
of someone rushing and then tripping on her way to the bathroom. It can be
an especially dangerous situation during the night, if there arenít any
lights illuminating the way. A person canít avoid tripping over
something they canít see. In fact, six out of ten fatal falls happen to
older people in the safety of their home.
The findings suggest that identification and treatment of urge
incontinence may actively prevent the risk of falls and fractures. Often
times, women neglect to speak with physicians about the problem of
incontinence and therefore, may not seek treatment, because they are too
embarrassed. Some invasive, new treatments for urinary incontinence
include: biofeedback, FemSoft Inserts, Neocontrol, tension-free
transvaginal tape(TVT) and the prescription medication, Ditropan.
Perhaps the conclusion of this recent study will prompt women, neglecting
to communicate with their doctors about their incontinence, to speak up
and in turn, receive one of the many treatment options available. Based on
the study, women with incontinence may have more to fear then public
embarrassment; they could potentially fracture a bone, putting them in an
even more precarious situation.