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Seniors and Bladder Incontinence

Bladder control is a common problem among seniors, and it can’t almost always be treated or cured, but it can be managed. Also, bladder incontinence as a bladder control problem isn’t a disease, but a symptom of other problems in the body. A bladder control problem is one that allows urine to escape involuntarily. The problem with incontinence or lack of bladder control is that it can have a negative effect on the life of a senior. It can affect feelings of well-being as well cause social embarrassment too.

There are a number of options which can help to restore the quality of life here, but first, the types of incontinence:

Types of incontinence

There are four types of incontinence which causes seniors problems. They are stress, urge, overflow and functional. These may occur in a combination or just alone. Below are the explanations of the difference between the types of bladder incontinence issues:

  • Stress incontinence: This type occurs when there is increased pressure on the bladder. A small amount of urine will leak when a person laughs, sneezes, coughs or lifts something heavy. It’s more common in senior women because childbirth when younger causes these muscles to relax with age. It will sometimes occur in men who have had prostate surgery.
  • Urge incontinence: This is caused when a person can’t reach the toilet in time when the urge to urinate hits. This accounts for about 60-70 % of seniors with incontinence problems.
  • Overflow incontinence: This occurs about 15-20% of the time in seniors who have urinary incontinence. The senior has an obstruction in the bladder, and it will cause the bladder to overfill. Usually there isn’t a sensation that the bladder is full so when the bladder has a contraction the urine is released.
  • Functional incontinence: This happens in about 25% of incontinence situations in institutions. The person has a hard time moving from one place to another. In addition, the person may have a vision or physical problem which may cause an issue with reaching the bathroom in time. This type of incontinence can also occur at home.

Causes of incontinence

There are different causes of incontinence, and these are not always caused by aging. Some of the causes are diseases such as muscular sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and diabetes to name a few. Other causes can be weakened pelvic floor muscles, a stroke or the side effects of surgery or injuries. Also, certain medications can cause sudden incontinence such as a diuretic. In addition, constipation, bladder infections, and drinking a large amount of fluids can contribute to incontinence.

Treatment options for incontinence

There are treatments for incontinence which can help. These treatments include doing Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Bladder retraining is another option as well as changes in the diet. In addition, modifying surroundings so that the person has an easier time reaching the toilet as well as wearing easy to remove clothing can be done. There are also surgical solutions such as bladder suspension, artificial sphincter placement and collagen injections.

If bladder control problems are an issue, there are treatments options which may help. Incontinence, in most cases, can be treated, managed or cured.

How to Prevent Seniors from Wandering

When a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, the possibility of your family member wandering off is a very real one. The Alzheimer’s Association says that 6 put of 10 people who have this disease can exhibit the tendency to wander. In addition, wandering behavior just isn’t on foot, but it can happen if the person is also driving. The bad news is that if a wanderer isn’t found within a 24-hour period, the outcome can be a serious injury or even death. So, why does a person wander, how is it prevented, and what do you do if your loved one does wander off?

What causes wandering behavior?

It’s believed that there are three primary reasons that cause wandering in seniors. Any one of these reasons can set off the behavior:

  • If the person is confused: If a person has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, this person can become disoriented and confused easily about where they are. This person can even become lost within their own home. Additionally, Sundowner’s Syndrome can be an offshoot of dementia. This is when your loved one with this condition’s confusion and disorientation becomes worse as the sun goes down and after. So changes in the sunlight can then cause wandering.
  • Feelings of compulsion: These feelings can prompt the urge where Alzheimer’s sufferers feel as if they should be somewhere else. It may not even be clear to the person affected either where that is, just that they must leave and that it’s an irresistible urge that’s difficult to ignore.
  • The person wants to go home: When people have this type of issue, even though they may have been in the same home for years, that home is not where they want to be. It could be a childhood home that they’re yearning for then. This type of behavior is especially dangerous because the people affected will do anything possible to get to where they want or think they should be.

How to prevent wandering behavior?

Caring for a family member who has wandering issues can be difficult for the caregiver. If the wandering problem is serious enough, then the senior can’t be left alone. So below are some suggestions to help prevent wandering behavior:

  • If you loved one is a wanderer, introduce the senior to neighbors who can be trusted within a block radius. If the loved one escapes then, the neighbors can help to keep an eye out for him or her.
  • You can enroll your senior in the local “Silver Alert” directory or something similar. This is similar to the “Amber Alert” only it’s for seniors instead of children.
  • To keep your loved one from wandering at night, install hard to reach locks on doors and windows may also need bars installed.
  • Hire an at home caregiver to help with care and provide extra supervision.

If your loved one wanders off

If your loved one does wander off, call the authorities. The sooner your loved one is found, the better. There are also services which charge a monthly fee that provide technology for enrolled seniors which will pinpoint exactly where that person is should wandering occur. This type of company will work with law enforcement to have your loved one returned safely.

When your loved one has wandering issues, keeping the person safe is your main priority.

Mobility Problems in Seniors

One of the problems seniors face as they age deals with mobility. Mobility problems are common among older adults and can cause social, physical and psychological problems. This is because being mobile is essential to get through a day. People need mobility to see friends, get across a room, to be able to use the bathroom or go to the kitchen to get make a meal. Losing mobility can force people to become dependent upon other people which causes problems with how they see themselves as part of society.

Some of the reasons for the loss of mobility in seniors are listed below:

  • Osteoarthritis: For people older than 65, this bone disease is the leading cause of mobility problems. Osteoarthritis can limit mobility severely, and more than half the seniors in this age group are affected by it. Treatments for this can be dealt with both physical and occupational therapy, as well as the taking of medication for pain.
  • Falls and injuries: When a senior falls, it can reveal a mobility problem that has been undetected until then. Or a fall can then lead to mobility issues for a senior. So, seniors need to make sure that their homes are hazard proof. Removing or tacking down throw rugs as well as reducing clutter can cut the risks of falls. Also, when a senior falls and is recovering at home, 24-hour care is a necessity to make sure that there is a fast as well as safe recovery.
  • Natural changes: As people age, there are changes in bones, muscles and joints which can affect gait and posture. This can lead to mobility issues in some seniors. For some seniors, osteoporosis can decrease bone mass also leading to problems. However, if a senior doesn’t have osteoporosis, by remaining active this will help slow the natural deterioration everyone has as they age. Low impact exercises can help to keep mobility issues at bay too.
  • Cognitive conditions: Dementia or Alzheimer’s can cause mobility issues also. By treating the disease’s symptoms, it’s possible that some mobility may be restored while giving back the sense of independence and self-esteem to those affected.

 

Checking for mobility issues

Mobility issues aren’t always the first thing on the list of priorities that a doctor may check for. There are so many other health issues which may be of primary concern such as lung or heart problems. However, mobility is an important issue also because it can make the difference between living at home or having to move to a facility for a senior. Also, having mobility problems checked for is not difficult. All a doctor has to do is to have the senior stand up from the chair that they’re sitting in. Then the doctor should have the senior walk 10 feet, then walk back to the chair and sit back down. The goal is to see if the person walks faster than a yard per second. If the senior walks a yard per second, then the gait is normal. If the walk is slower than this, then there is a problem with the senior’s gait.

In addition, two questions should be asked of the senior. Do you have difficulty walking up a flight of 10 steps or walking one quarter of a mile? This is question number one. A quarter of a mile is about a medium mall’s upper level. Question number two is asking the senior whether they have modified how they walk up steps or walk one quarter of a mile. If so, the questions then is whether this is because of physical or health reasons?

If a senior has mobility problems, physical therapy to help improve balance as well as strength training may be suggested. Canes, wheelchairs, scooters and walkers can also offer a chance for better mobility. Losing mobility is a very real issue, but it can be treated or prevented.

 

References:

http://www.centennialhomecareassistance.com/reasons-for-decreased-mobility/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/two-questions-can-reveal-mobility-problems-in-seniors-201309186682

Loneliness and Senior Health

Being alone can affect a senior’s health in many ways. If a senior is isolated socially as well as being alone, the effect on mortality can be doubled per age group also. One reason may be that people who live alone or don’t have much social contact have no one to turn to if acute health symptoms develop. No one would know then that isolated seniors were sick or unable to care for themselves.

 

Illnesses linked to loneliness and isolation

Loneliness is one of the major factors which can cause depression in seniors. It can also cause high blood pressure by increasing the systolic pressure as well as being linked to long term illnesses too. Other illnesses which can be linked can range from arthritis, chronic lung disease and impaired mobility as well as depression as stated. In addition, social isolation may be a major predictor for the senior needing long-term care sooner. Here, the senior may not be taking care of medical issues and unhealthy behavior. This can result in risky health behaviors such as lack of exercise and poor diet.

 

Other contributing factors

There are also other contributing factors to loneliness and social isolation. When a senior loses a spouse, the person can lose the social circle which were part of being a couple. Friends who were part of that circle may stop calling, or stopping by, and therefore lose touch with the bereaved senior. Too, where a senior lives can cause isolation issues. If the senior can no longer drive and public transportation isn’t available, then the senior can no longer go to places of social interaction additionally.

 

Ways a senior can prevent loneliness and isolation

Some suggestions for seniors to become more socially involved to prevent loneliness and social isolation are listed below:

  • Seniors can become more social-media savvy. By using email, Facebook and other medias; they can keep in contact with friends and family. The social media also can help the senior keep active through sites which interest them such as music and hobby sites.
  • Join a senior center where there are like-minded people. There are exercise programs, craft programs and other activities to make new friends and enjoy social interaction with this.
  • Find activities where transportation is provided such as by bus trips that will go to senior events and outdoor venues. Trips to parks, movies, day trips and other fun things to do that will help to curb loneliness and give a chance to make new acquaintances may be able to be done by the help of groups and programs available for seniors that will drive seniors too.
  • Join a place of worship, or volunteer at a hospital or even a pet shelter. Volunteers are needed at all these places to continue to keep the programs that are in place viable. It will give the senior a purpose that is useful and much needed additionally.

 

By following the suggestions above, the impact of loneliness and social isolation on senior health can be alleviated.

Depression In Seniors

Depression can be a common occurrence in seniors, and the causes of it can be one of many reasons. It can stem from a side effect from medications or the beginnings of dementia. It can be from the senior feeling lonely or abandoned by friends or family. It could also be from insomnia issues. If it is depression, then seeing a doctor for treatment will help with concentration and help reviving memory and energy levels. If it’s a type of dementia causing depression, some types of depression with dementia can be halted, slowed or even reversed.

 

Face to face contact is important

If your loved one is suffering from depression, it’s important to limit the time the person is alone. Making sure your senior is visited, or at least keeps in touch through the phone or email is important. Also, face time on a computer with family and friends is helpful in making senior loved ones feel involved. In addition, having seniors join a senior center, be volunteers or making sure that they have transportation to have lunch with a friend or friends is helpful. Social interaction is an important prevention method for depression reoccurrences.

 

More tips for your loved one

If your senior is capable of caring for a pet, consider his or her adoption of a pet for company as an option. Many shelters have dogs and cats who are also seniors and looking to spend their golden years with a loving owner. Additionally, walking a dog is a great way for seniors to get out and meet people and other pet owners. Cats are less maintenance and can be great loving companions too.

Also, make sure that your senior is eating healthy because when a person is depressed, sometimes eating healthy is the last thing on the mind. Your loved one could just be grabbing whatever is handy and eating it, or even not eating at all. By making sure your senior is eating correctly, however, this can go a long way in helping to ward off depression to begin with. Additionally, by taking care of their bodies by eating properly seniors will feel better in the long run. This is because when a person doesn’t eat, it can make the depression worse by causing fatigue and irritability.

 

Sleeping and alcohol use

Sometimes an older person has trouble sleeping at night. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but simply that as people age how they sleep may change. Disturbed sleep on the other hand is when the person wakes up tired everyday no matter how much sleep has been gotten. Because a good night’s sleep helps with concentration and memory, lack of sleep causes the opposite.  Seniors seeing a doctor is important when this is happening.

In addition, if the senior uses too much alcohol which may be done to deal with an emotional or physical pain, it can make the symptoms of depression worsen the longer it’s used. Alcohol also interacts with different medications in negative ways.

If your senior is depressed, getting professional help and finding the root of the issue is important. It could be a life situation, a medical problem or loneliness. Once the cause is found, the cure is usually not far behind.