Alzheimer’s Disease and Incontinence

March 18, 2008 by  
Filed under ALZHEIMER'S

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Yesterday, we talked about the fact that incontinence and Alzheimer’s disease are companions.

Today, I want us to investigate incontinence a little deeper. We’ll look at types of incontinence and some differences between men and women. Hopefully, we’ll help you to be able to ask the right questions and/or figure out if your loved one’s incontinence is temporary and due to some underlying medical issue, or if it’s the incontinence brought on as Alzheimer’s disease progresses.

Women are more likely than men to be incontinent. Chalk that up to pregnancy, the resulting childbirth, menopause, and the structure of the female urinary tract.

There are also several different types of incontinence. I’ll go through them quickly, just to give you an idea.

Stress–Leakage generally caused by coughing, exercising, laughing, sneezing. or some physical pressure on the internal abdominal area.

Urge–Urination begins at the same time the urge to go is felt. The bladder contracts for seemingly no reason. Can be brought on by the sound of water or even by the washing of impacted person’s hands.

Overflow–Usually caused by a physiological issue that causes the bladder to be full most of the time.

Functional–Caused by brain function issues, such as inability to carry out the steps necessary to go to to the bathroom when the urge is felt. Inability to translate the feeling into urge to use the bathroom, and/or deterioration of brain function.

A urologist or gynecologist can help to make the proper diagnosis. In the early stages, simply adjusting liquid intake or prompting affected person to use the bathroom may be helpful. You do want to rule out physiological issues if your loved one is in the earlier stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Even something as simple as a urinary tract infection can cause urinary incontinence.

Now, here’s the tricky part, getting your loved one to ACT NOW before it gets unsanitary and embarrassing for all involved. There is no easy way to approach the subject, but the smarter way is earlier rather than later. If you start talking about it while your loved one can still communicate fairly logically, it will be easier. If the affected one understands that she has Alzheimer’s disease, then that may take away a little of the resistance.

Explain that incontinence doesn’t make her any less of a person (mom, grandmother, sister, wife), it’s just an inconvenient part of Battling Alzheimer’s disease. Often, by the time the affected person is incontinent, he or she is in the later stages of the disease and it may just be a matter of selecting the best products and using them without the need for explanation or coaxing on your part.

Even still, you’ll need some information and guidance as to the products, how to use them properly and how to manage the process  so that it is clean and healthy for you and your loved one. That’s what we’ll talk about in the upcoming posts.

Until then, remember … Like I said in the post, “You gotta do what you gotta do….dealing with Incontinence.”  Everyone poops!

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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