Understanding Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a challenge for many assisted living and residential care residents, but not all cases of urinary incontinence have the same cause and recommended treatment.  It is important that your care staff understand the different types of urinary incontinence and how to best intervene.

Here is a brief recap of the common types of urinary incontinence (adapted from “Urinary Incontinence” by the Mayo Clinic):

Stress incontinence
This is incontinence of urine when a resident exerts pressure, or stress, on the bladder by coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising or lifting something heavy. Stress incontinence occurs when the sphincter muscle of the bladder is weakened. In women, physical changes resulting from pregnancy, childbirth and menopause can cause stress incontinence. In men, removal of the prostate gland can lead to this type of incontinence.

Urge incontinence
This is a sudden, intense urge to urinate, followed by an involuntary loss of urine. Residents with urge incontinence may need to urinate often, including throughout the night.  Various medical conditions, including urinary tract infections and Parkinson’s disease can cause urge incontinence.

Overflow incontinence
Residents with overflow incontinence may feel as if they never completely empty their bladder, and experience frequent or constant dribble of urine.

Mixed incontinence
Mixed incontinence is when a resident experiences symptoms of more than one type of urinary incontinence.

Functional incontinence
When physical or mental impairments prevent a resident from making it to the toilet in time (or at all), this is functional incontinence.

For more information, including recommended treatments, visit the Mayo Clinic website at: Urinary incontinence – MayoClinic.com.  Of course, always follow the recommendations and instructions from the resident’s physician regarding treatment and care.

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