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Thorough assessment, care and respect are key to managing incontinence.


Proper care and support can drastically reduce the distress that incontinence can cause a person.

Did you know more than 5 million Australians have some form of incontinence and those affected range from young children to older adults?  Understandably, most people find the idea of discussing bladder or bowel control problems awkward.   However, when an issue is stigmatised and not accepted as a part of our humanity, it can create negative outcomes that otherwise could be avoided.

In the case of continence, if the issue is a ‘no-go’ subject within our community, we allow room for underlying illnesses to remain untreated.  It also means the problem may be incorrectly managed due to a lack of information about the symptoms being experienced by an individual.

Care begins with undertaking an assessment.  Assessments can be undertaken by Continence specialists who will work with other health care partners, and the persons support network to ensure any continence problems are dealt with discretely, respectfully, efficiently. 

Like all physiological conditions, before incontinence can be accepted, a thorough assessment needs to be undertaken.  Many conditions including diabetes, arthritis, prostate problems, constipation, and dementia can impact bladder and bowel function.  There are many things to be considered before an accurate diagnosis related to continence is accepted.   Without this thorough assessment, older adults can often be provided inappropriate care and less than optimal treatment options with the issue being accepted as ‘normal’ for their stage of life. 

Medication management and diet can assist to reduce the risk of constipation therefore reducing the instance of urinary incontinence. Or a specific management plan may be implemented to promote continence needs such as specific toileting regimes.   It is important that management plans and the care needs are reassessed and reviewed regularly to ensure the treatment continues to meet the need and is effective.

Inappropriate care and treatment can result in distress for the person dealing with continence issues and for their loved ones.   We must remember that while our older community members may require additional support and care, they deserve to be involved in any decision-making process and be provided with the best of dignified treatment methods and care options that they are comfortable with.

If you would like more information regarding continence care, you can call the Continence Foundation of Australia’s Helpline on 1 800 33 00 66.

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