Various organs and tissues work together in the urinary system, similar to a complex machine. And like any machine, these parts are subject to wear and tear over time.
Your kidneys, which lie on each side of your spine, are the core of the system, filtering about 150 quarts of blood daily. As we age, our kidneys can filter less and less blood in a day. Loss of kidney function can make it more difficult for the body to remove necessary waste. In addition, narrowing of the arteries that supply the kidneys can lead to a type of high blood pressure called renal hypertension.
The bladder is a small bag that stores urine before passing it from the body. A normal bladder can hold 1.5 to 2 cups of urine. The bladder empties through specially designed tubes — ureters in men and the urethra in women.
Problems associated with either the tubes or the bladder can cause difficulty retaining and voiding urine. For example, over time, the bladder may not:
Urine that remains in the bladder after incomplete emptying is a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to infections in senior men and women. However, older women have an increased risk of UTIs due to physical factors and estrogen loss, which lowers the ability to inhibit bacterial growth.
If you notice any signs of a UTI, such as burning, urgency or pelvic pain, talk to your doctor or a team member at ViewPointe as soon as possible. Occasionally, UTIs can cause confusion, disorientation and fatigue in elderly individuals.
While many senior adults have no issues with incontinence, it’s found more frequently among the older population for various reasons. For example, many conditions that occur more often in seniors increase the chances of incontinence, such as a previous stroke or hysterectomy, obesity or impaired mobility. Urinary incontinence can take many forms, from occasional dribbles to heavier accidents.
Certain medications can trigger urination incontinence, while other causes of urinary incontinence vary between men and women due to the different structures involved.
Estrogen loss after menopause can make the bladder and urethra walls thinner. In addition, the urethra may shorten, making it more susceptible to infections. Childbirth and its related stressors may leave muscles in the pelvic area weak and the organs unsupported.
The prostate gland encircles the ureters as they carry urine from the body. It can become enlarged as a man ages, resulting in a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia. BPH affects up to 90% of men over the age of 80. The pressure of the enlarged prostate gland can cause urinary complications, including frequency, urgency, stream force and incontinence. However, not all men with BPH have urinary symptoms.
The most important takeaway from the above information is that urinary incontinence can have many causes, and it’s not an inevitable part of aging. Therefore, it’s essential you communicate any concerns to your doctor. They may be able to come up with treatment options or lifestyle changes to help you prevent or decrease occurrences.
Depending on your symptoms and the underlying cause of your incontinence, you may be able to manage it with medication. For example, antibiotics can treat urinary tract infections, a common cause of urgency. Other medicines may help relax muscles in the prostate and bladder or calm an overactive bladder.
Pelvic floor exercises can help both men and women lessen urine leakage by strengthening the surrounding muscles. Ask your doctor or physical therapist to learn how to perform these exercises properly. Biofeedback therapy can help make sure you’re working the correct set of muscles.
Keeping your weight within healthy limits and avoiding or stopping smoking can also help lessen your risks of incontinence problems.
Fortunately, there are a number of products available to help seniors deal with bladder control issues. Depending on leakage levels, you can choose from pads, guards and underwear in assorted sizes and styles. Specially designed pads can help protect beds and chairs. Most medical supply companies or pharmacies will deliver directly to your community in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with discreetly packaged products.
Don’t let urinary incontinence or other urological issues get in the way of enjoying all the activities ViewPointe has to offer. Discuss treatment and support options with a medical professional or staff member.
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