Millions suffer from urinary incontinence (urine leakage). Often people feel as if their bladders control their lives. But this doesn't have to be your story. Bladder control issues are treatable and you can take steps to help control your bladder. What is urinary incontinence? Men and women of all ages can have difficulty controlling their bladders. Urinary incontinence occurs when the muscles in the bladder that control the flow of urine contract or relax involuntarily. Is there more than one type of urinary incontinence? Yes, there are three main types: Stress incontinence is when the bladder leaks small amounts of urine as a result of physical stress or pressure on the muscles supporting the bladder caused by coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting or any sudden physical exercise such as running or jumping. Urge incontinence is the inability to control a strong urge to go without advance warning, limiting the time needed to get to the bathroom. Overflow incontinence occurs when the bladder does not empty properly. As a result, over time, large quantities of urine are stored, causing the bladder to overflow (this is more common in men and is often the result of an enlarged prostate blocking the bladder opening). Are there any tests that can determine the cause and type of incontinence? Your doctor may have you track your fluid intake and output in a Bladder Diary. A urinalysis can be checked for infection, traces of blood, or other abnormalities. Blood tests can look for chemicals or substances that may relate to contributing causes. Other testing may be an ultrasound, cystogram or post voiding residual measurement. How is urinary incontinence treated? Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles or restrain the bladder to hold on for longer. Medication can relieve and control the troublesome symptoms. If there is an infection an antibiotic is used. Surgery can repair weakened muscles or remove blockage. Special products such as pants, pads, collection devices, and chair and bed protection may be needed if the problem cannot be controlled. How do you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles? To make your pelvic floor muscles stronger, alternate between squeezing and relaxing them. Following the steps below may help: Squeeze your muscles for one second and hold. Relax your muscles for two seconds. Each time you squeeze and relax, it counts as one set. Complete five sets. When you can do the exercises easily, increase to doing them 10 times per day. When that gets easy, try to squeeze and hold the muscles for three seconds and then relax the muscles for three seconds. As your pelvic muscles get stronger, you can progress to longer squeezes for about 10 seconds. Be sure to relax between squeezes so that your muscles can rest before squeezing again. You should do these exercises in three different positions. Do 10 sets lying down, 10 sitting and 10 standing. It is important that you develop the habit of doing the exercises every day. You may want to exercise just after you get up in the morning and right before you go to bed at night. What can I do to help control incontinence? Watch your weight, practice pelvic floor muscle exercises, eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and fiber to prevent constipation. Most importantly, talk to your doctor regarding incontinence issues, don’t be embarrassed!
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of four adults aged 65 or older, fall each year. But less than half of those who fall talk to their healthcare provider about it. What’s more, among older adults, falls are the leading cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries. Senior Care Plus, a Medicare Advantage Plan by Hometown Health, and Renown Health Nurse Educator, Nicholas Mannering, worked together to provide a list with simple tips to help you prevent falls. 1. Exercise Exercise strengthens both your muscles and bones and improves balance which is a key factor to preventing falls. The stronger you are, the less likely you are to fall. And, if you do fall, you are less likely to be injured. 2. Vision Check Vision is an import part of fall prevention, have your eyes check by an eye doctor at least once a year. Update your vision prescription and replace your eyeglasses as needed. 3. Install Safety Equipment in Your Bathroom Installing grab bars in your home bathroom provides a way for you to help yourself in and out of challenging situations. It also provides support if you suddenly feel week or unstable. Having a grab bar to lean on or hold onto when you feel yourself falling or slipping can help prevent falls. Rubber mats eliminate slick surfaces that increase your risk of falling. 4. Helpful Items in Your Bedroom A light within reaching distance is an important item to have in your bedroom. One reason adults fall is because they wander through a dark room, often to get to the bathroom at night, and can’t see where they are walking. Having a light within reach that is quick and easy to turn on before walking around a room can make it safer and decrease your risk of falling. Having a bedroom that is organized and furnished in a way that is easy to navigate is also important. If your bedroom is cluttered and hard to walk around without tripping or running into things, it might be worth reorganizing the area to define a clear walking path. 5. Helpful Items in Your Living Room Similar to your bedroom, your living room should have a light that is easily accessible. Sofas with armrests are helpful for support when getting up and sitting down. Avoiding clutter in your walkways, rugs that are not secured down and unstable furniture are important to consider when preventing falls. 6. Actions to Avoid in Your Home There are other ways to fall besides slipping or tripping while walking. Never stand on chairs, boxes or other unstable items in your home. Walkways should be tidy and free of objects that you could trip on. Spills should be cleaned up right away to prevent slipping. 7. Wear Appropriate Footwear Wearing shoes with non-slip soles and closed toes can help prevent you from falling. Having shoes that fit properly, are made from hard rubber (like tennis shoes) and provide good support help prevent tripping and falling. Shoes with a collar that support the ankle and a well-padded tongue for the top of your foot can also help prevent injury to your feet. 8. Review Your Health & Medications at your Annual Health Check-Up It is important to review your health and medications with your healthcare provider so they can assess if you are at risk for falls. You should discuss your vision, heart health and blood pressure at your annual health check-up. These things can play a role in the risk of falling. Reviewing your current medications is also important. If medications are making you dizzy, talk to your provider about adjusting the dosage so you can feel more stable and balanced. When talking to your doctor about medications be sure to include your vitamins and supplements. Finally, Have your healthcare provider check your feet and discuss proper footwear yearly. 9. Avoid Smoking and Alcohol Balance is important in preventing falls. Alcohol consumption negatively affects balance and increases your risk for falls and fractures. It also increases your risk for cancer, liver damage, osteoporosis, high blood pressure and strokes. Smoking is connected to frailty in older adults. It prevents the development of muscle tissue and breaks down healthy muscle tissue due to the lack of oxygen in your body.