The CDC released a first-of-its-kind study earlier this year, focused on the prevalence of incontinence issues among Americans 65 years of age and older, including those who live in residential care and nursing home facilities. What they found was surprising: More than half of the people who live in residential care communities and nursing homes suffer from either urinary or bowel incontinence, yet most never bother to seek out care for their conditions.
Just as concerning as the lack of care is the toll these untreated conditions are having on patientsâ€™ quality of life. According to the study, men and women who suffer from bladder or bowel incontinence carry â€œan emotional burden of shame and embarrassment in addition to the physical discomfort and disruption of their livesâ€ that occur as a result of their condition. Â
Often, men and women who live in nursing communities may feel isolated and alone, or they may have cognitive impairment that makes it difficult for them to communicate their symptoms to a caregiver. Certainly, there is some shame attached to having your bed sheets changed by an orderly or healthcare assistant, as helpful as they may be. And often, older men and women may not be aware of the significant advances in treatment that have occurred even within the past few years, advances that could help them reduce or even eliminate their symptoms through a simple procedure or medication.
If you have a relative or friend living in a nursing home or assisted care facility or receiving home healthcare services, you can help them lead happier, more comfortable lives by providing them with information about incontinence treatments, whether theyâ€™ve reported symptoms or not.
At the Incontinence Institute, we offer resources on our website including information about procedures that can be printed out and shared, and you can visit sites like www.augs.org, www.nafc.org and www.ABLinfo.org for more information to share. If you suffer from incontinence yourself, sharing your own experiences is a great jumping-off point that will help your loved one feel more confident about opening up to you.