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Taking care to manage your continence

Taking Care And Managing Your Continence Panel

Maintaining continence, both urinary and faecal, is essential for a healthy and independent life. However, as we age, managing continence can become more challenging.

Common scenarios and concerns

Lifestyle and equipment options to help you

Urinary incontinence: Difficulty controlling urination, leading to leaks.

This can lead to social isolation, anxiety, and skin irritation.

Lifestyle changes: Limit fluids before bed, manage bladder irritants (caffeine, alcohol). 

Pelvic floor exercises: Strengthen muscles to improve bladder control. 

Bladder training: Retrain your bladder to hold urine for longer. 

Absorbent products: Pads, liners, or adult diapers to manage leaks.

Faecal incontinence: Difficulty controlling bowel movements, leading to accidents.

This can lead to similar to urinary incontinence, but also potential for gut health issues and increased risk of infection.

Dietary changes: Increase fibre, manage fluids, and avoid constipation-causing foods. 

Pelvic floor exercises: Strengthen muscles to improve bowel control. 

Bowel training: Establish regular bowel habits. 

Absorbent products: Pads, liners, or adult diapers for managing leaks.

 

Understanding continence issues

  • Urinary incontinence: This is the involuntary loss of urine, ranging from occasional dribbling to complete bladder emptying. It can be caused by various factors, including weakened pelvic floor muscles, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and neurological conditions.
  • Faecal incontinence: This refers to the inability to control bowel movements, leading to involuntary stool leakage. It can be caused by constipation, weakened anal sphincter muscles, or digestive issues.

Maintaining continence and preventing concerns

While age can be a risk factor, several proactive strategies can help maintain continence:

  • Lifestyle changes
    • Limit fluid intake before bed: Drinking excessive fluids close to bedtime can overwhelm your bladder, leading to nighttime leaks.
    • Manage bladder irritants: Caffeine, alcohol, and acidic beverages can irritate the bladder and contribute to urgency and leakage.
    • Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight can put extra pressure on the bladder and pelvic floor muscles, contributing to incontinence.
    • Manage constipation: Constipation can lead to straining and weakening of the anal sphincter, increasing the risk of faecal incontinence. Ensure a high-fibre diet, adequate hydration, and regular physical activity to promote healthy bowel movements.
  • Pelvic floor exercises (Kegels): These exercises strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and bowel, improving control and reducing leakage.
  • Bladder training and bowel training: These techniques involve retraining your bladder and bowels to hold urine and stool for longer periods, gradually increasing intervals between bathroom visits.

Seeking professional help

If you experience persistent continence concerns, consulting a healthcare professional is crucial. They can diagnose the underlying cause, recommend specific treatment options, and provide guidance on managing your specific situation.

Equipment and aids to help you manage your continence

While not a substitute for addressing the root cause, absorbent products can provide comfort and manage leaks while undergoing treatment or managing ongoing challenges.

  • Pads and liners: Available in various absorbency levels, these are suitable for managing light leaks or spotting.
  • Adult diapers: Designed for moderate to heavy incontinence, they provide comprehensive leakage protection.
  • Catheters: In some cases, catheters may be used to drain urine from the bladder directly. This should only be done under medical supervision.

Things to remember

  • You're not alone. Continence issues are common, and effective treatments and solutions are available.
  • Seeking professional help is crucial for diagnosis, treatment, and guidance specific to your needs.
  • With proper management, you can maintain your independence and continue living a confident and fulfilling life.

Where to buy equipment and technology to help you manage your continence

Plymouth City Council, NHS Devon, and Livewell Southwest have jointly commissioned NRS Healthcare to deliver the Safe+Well service, and they have over 2,500 daily living aids that you can purchase by mail order, telephone, or online.

View the Plymouth Safe+Well website

NRS has a dedicated phone line with a trained team of specialists who can answer any questions you might have. Just call 0345 6461860.

Other places to buy equipment from:

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  • Free assessment tool: Select the area of difficulty that is relevant to you. You will then be asked a few questions to guide you towards helpful daily living aids. 
  • Free telephone advice line: Complete the online form, and we will contact you to arrange a convenient time to call.

 


 

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