Dealing with Incontinency

Home Health Care can be Ground Zero for Help with Incontinency

Incontinency is not a disease, rather a symptom of other associated problems

People receiving home health care are fortunate to be in the comfort and stress free surroundings that their home provides. They perform their activities of daily living in full view of their care providers, thereby giving the home health nurse the unique opportunity to observe and asses many functions of their patient in their normal daily routine. During this home care period, clinicians are able to address the problem of incontinency that may not be apparent in a hospital setting, or with out the home health evaluation. The elderly make up 86% of home bound patients, and, 80% of the elderly over age 65 deal with the problem of incontinence.

The inability to control the passage of urine is not a disease in and of itself, but often a symptom of other associated problems. Home health professionals have the advantage of a thorough knowledge of their patients and must be diligent in addressing this problem because incontinence may give clues to more significant problems such as spinal injuries, stress, depression or even prostrate cancer.

Home care nurses hold the key to gaining further insight to the elderly patient’s health which opens opportunities for a healthier and more independent lifestyle.

Home health care was the fastest growing category of spending between 2004 and 2007 as more and more elderly prefer care in the comfortable surroundings of their home, and costs of hospitals and nursing homes escalated. Eldercare is the majority of a home health care provider’s service. They not only have the opportunity, but the responsibility to investigate incontinency when evaluating their patients.

Incontinence is not the inevitable result of aging and in fact, 86% of those with incontinence issues who seek medical intervention can not only see improvement, but may also completely restore their ability of control.
Treatment varies depending on the specific cause, and could be significantly improved in elderly patients by things as simple as a change in diet or exercise.

There are Six Types of Incontinence:

  1. Stress – increase of pressure prompted by an activity or movement (exercise, laughing, sneezing, or coughing)
  2. Urge which occurs when the bladder contracts when it shouldn’t
  3. Mixed incontinence – involves both stress and urge.
  4. Overflow – when the quantity of urine produced exceeds the bladder’s holding capacity
  5. Reflex – when the person is unaware of the need to urinate which may be caused by a abnormal opening between the bladder and another structure.
  6. Surgeries which may destroy pertinent nerves or muscles.

While the impact of disorders of incontinence on men and women vary significantly, the causes are often the same. Home health care involving elderly care is on the rise and gives clinicians the opportunity to address and treat a problem that has plagued so many people who never knew there may be a cure.
Not only can the immediate problem be solved, but also, the patients’ chance of infection or related complications will be reduced which will result in an improvement of the patient’s independence.

Urinary Incontinence

What is incontinence?
Generally speaking, incontinence is the involuntary leaking of urine. Incontinence can affect people of all ages, but most prominently affects those over 65. Urinary incontinence is widely under-diagnosed and under-reported even though it affects up to 85% of seniors.

What causes incontinence?
There are four types of urinary incontinence. Each is diagnosed and treated differently. These types include stress, urge, mixed, overflow, and sometimes functional incontinence. The varying characteristics of each type make it difficult to identify the exact cause, as incontinence is usually a symptom of another issue.

Although we associate incontinence with older age, it can appear at any time. Usually the condition develops when bladder muscles are too weak or too active—young or old. It’s important to remember that there are circumstances aside from natural aging that cause incontinence. A woman can involuntarily leak urine after pelvic muscles stretch from childbirth. Prostate problems in men can cause incontinence. Diabetes, neurological disorders, and other diseases are also associated with incontinence. To determine the exact cause, it’s important to have a thorough physical exam with urinalysis as well as any other physician recommended ultrasounds and tests.

How is Incontinence Treated?
Depending on the type and severity, the condition may be treatable. There are a variety of products and techniques available. Treatment really boils down to your specific condition, overall health and what methods best suit your lifestyle. A doctor may recommend exercises, medication, medical equipment or in some cases surgery. Since most people experience either stress incontinence or urge incontinence, behavioral and lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise, can provide some relief.

AT Home Care understands that many people are overwhelmed by incontinence, and are either too confused or embarrassed to seek treatment. Fortunately, when our experienced and compassionate staff treats patients in their homes, there is a comfortable environment to discuss and handle incontinence. The AT Home Care team is dedicated to uncovering how and why a person struggles with incontinence. Our goal is to subtly approach the issue, and treat it in a way that allows patients to retain a sense of dignity.