Treating Overactive Bladder With Medications Or Injections

 Treating Overactive Bladder With Medications Or Injections

Do you live with symptoms of Overactive Bladder (OAB)? The urgent, frequent need to go to the bathroom? If so, you’re not alone. Nearly 33 million Americans live with Overactive Bladder. And while it may not seem like a big deal to some, to those who live with the condition it can be frustrating and embarrassing – especially when those symptoms cause you to have an accident.  

Throughout our series on OAB this month, we’ve been talking about different ways to manage OAB symptoms. You can try simple things like altering your diet, and adding in different types of exercise, but if you don’t see improvements with those steps, medication may be a good option for you.

How medication works to treat OAB 

Overactive bladder is caused when the bladder muscles involuntarily contract. This makes you feel like you have to go to the bathroom, even if you just went, and can sometimes even cause leakage if you’re not able to make it in time. There are a few different types of medication to treat Overactive Bladder.

Anticholinergic drugs work by blocking the signal to your bladder that causes the contractions that create that urgent need to go RIGHT NOW! With the signal blocked the need to release urine is reduced so those many, urgent trips to the bathroom are lessened as well.

Beta-3 adrenergic drugs work by relaxing the smooth muscle that surrounds the bladder, which increases the bladder’s ability to hold more urine, meaning less trips to the bathroom. 

Both of these types of medications have been shown to effectively treat Overactive Bladder, but some people can experience side effects, such as dry mouth, blurry vision, or constipation.  Some of the medications also interact with other types of meds, so be sure to tell your doctor everything you’re taking.

Botox® injections for OAB

Botox® injections are also an option for treating Overactive Bladder.  Injecting Botox, or onabotulinumtoxinA, into the bladder muscle blocks the nerve signal that triggers OAB, reducing the urgent need to urinate and the number of times you need to empty your bladder each day. A small percentage of people using botox have found the need to use a catheter if they experience urinary retention, and repeat injections may need to be performed.

For a list of the specific types of medications to treat OAB, click here.

If you’re living with symptoms of Overactive Bladder, like frequency and urgency, watch the below video about managing OAB with Medications, our 4th video in a series about treating Overactive Bladder.  Then talk with your doctor to see if medications may be an option for you.

Patient Perspective: Overcoming Overactive Bladder

 Overcoming Overactive Bladder

When I was in my early forties, I suddenly found myself rushing to the bathroom constantly. The urge would strike without warning causing me to sprint there lest I want to have an accident everywhere. It wasn’t too big of a deal when I was at home – I was typically able to make it to a bathroom, but when I was in an unfamiliar place, I’d feel panicked until I knew where every toilet in the place was, just in case I needed to make a mad dash to one.

I had been at stay at home mom for the last several years, caring for my youngest daughter, but when she finally started school, I decided it was time to return to the working world. But first, I resolved to get my bladder under control – I didn’t want to be rushing from meeting to meeting with important clients with the fear of peeing my pants.

I visited my doctor and found out that I had Overactive Bladder. It’s where your bladder has sudden spasms that cause you to feel the need to empty it – even if you just went. He prescribed a medication, which helped a lot and made me feel more confident as I returned to work. I’m now exploring a procedure involving nerve stimulation that is supposed to be even more effective and won’t require me to take medications every day. 

I’m so happy I got this treated before returning to work, and wish I would have done it sooner! It would have made heading to the park with my daughter much less daunting! Don’t wait to see a doctor if you have OAB. Turns out there are lots of things that you can do to treat this common (but not normal!) problem.

 

Jane F.

Portland, OR

                                     

Products To Help Manage Your Overactive Bladder

 Bladder Control Products

One of the most frustrating and embarrassing things about Overactive Bladder (OAB)– that urgent, frequent need to use the bathroom –is the potential of leaks. Not everyone with OAB experiences leaks, but when they do happen, they can be awkward and uncomfortable, to say the least. That’s why that it’s important to find a product that can help protect you in these instances. And for many people, adult absorbent products are a first line of defense. 

If you’ve never wandered down the aisle of a grocery store looking for the perfect adult absorbent, you’re in for a surprise. The category is vast and it can be confusing to find the product that work best for you. So how do you find the right one? Three words: form, fit and function.

Form.

The first thing to think about is form. There are many different styles to accommodate different lifestyle so think about what’s important to you. Are you a very active person or are you less mobile? Do you prefer pull-ups or tab closures? Are you looking for something to help control odor? There are so many features to choose from so take the time to think about what you need and want in a product. 

Fit.

Once you’ve determined the product features you’re after, be sure to consider the fit of a product. A product that’s too small, or too big, won’t contain leaks.  Be sure to take your measurements and follow the manufacturers sizing recommendations. If you’re still having trouble, an online retailer can be a huge help. They often have product specialists that you can call for free consultation. Based on your needs and size, they can usually recommend a product that will work well for you.

Function.

Finally, consider how you’re going to use the product. Do you tend to leak more during the day or at night? Do you leak a lot, or just a little? Are you looking for something that you can reuse, or that you can toss when you’re done with it.  Think about how you’re using the product and use that to help you choose a product.

Need some help finding the perfect product? Try our new product finder tool! 

Using Intermittent Catheterization To Manage OAB

Catheters are not for everyone, but may be an option for some people with overactive bladder. Catheters work by inserting a tube through the urethra into the bladder. Your urine is then drained from your bladder. When performing intermittent catheterization, the tube is removed once your bladder has been drained, until the next time you need it. 

Intermittent catheterization may seem complicated and scary to some people at first, but the benefits to it may be worth it.  The process completely drains your bladder, so there’s less of a risk of leaking or getting a bladder or kidney infection. You also have less risk of a distended bladder due to storing excess urine for too long in the bladder.  

Intermittent Catheterization is a good option for those who have sever bladder conditions that may lead to kidney infections or are unable to completely empty their bladder. Talk to your doctor about this option to see if you might be a good candidate for intermittent catheterization.

Want to learn more about finding the right absorbent product, or intermittent catheterization? Watch the 3rd video in our OAB series, Using Products To Manage Your Overactive Bladder.

How To Manage Leaks During And After Pregnancy

 How To Manage Leaks During And After Pregnancy

You're expecting and you couldn't be happier! There's literally a mini-you baking in the oven and you feel proud, excited, and even nervous about it. However, now the phrase, "you're expecting", has taken on a new meaning. Sure, you're expecting a baby, but you also may begin to throw up at random times, crave things you've never desired before, and even leak a little after a sneeze. Nobody told you that you should be expecting all of that!

You're able to get past the sleepless nights and aches and pains, but these leaks, they're not your thing. However, this too shall pass. In the meantime, you can implement a few techniques and products to make it a little more bearable.

What's Up With These Leaks?

A woman's body goes through A LOT while carrying a baby! The uncomfortable experiences are the body's way of adapting for the baby and preparing for childbirth. I mean, we've got to expect a little discomfort with a baby growing and organs shifting to make room for it, right?

Stressed Out Sphincter

You can thank your expanding uterus for putting pressure on the bladder and making you spritz when you walk, talk, laugh and sneeze. This extra pressure on your bladder is known as stress incontinence and this happens when the bladder sphincter doesn't function well enough to hold in urine.

Hormones Going Haywire

Hormones play a big part too. Relaxin is a hormone that relaxes your muscles in preparation for labor. Progesterone is also released to soften your ligaments. The result? A pelvic floor that's looser and softer, which leads to less control of your bladder.

Bladder Spazzes and Spritz

Are you frequenting the ladies room more often than usual? Then you might have an overactive bladder. This happens when the bladder starts uncontrollably spazzing out and it's a common condition for pregnant women.

Can I Do Anything About It?

The short answer is yes, you can do something about it. However, what you do about it might not actually stop the leaks. It's one of those things that you can't 100 percent control. However, there are things you can do to help manage it during your pregnancy.

Kegel exercises are helpful before, during and after pregnancy. Doing just a few sets of 20-30 Kegel exercises a day can help whip your pelvic floor muscles into shape. Keep in mind, a stronger pelvic floor can better support your uterus and bladder, which could mean fewer leaks.  Plus, they'll come in handy when it's time to give birth! However, before you decide to implement anything new, like Kegel exercises, be sure to consult with your doctor first.

You're probably tempted to cut back on your water intake but that's not a good idea. Ensure you're getting the recommended amount of water each day. Otherwise, you could wind up with dehydration or an unpleasant UTI.

Could your diet be irritating your bladder? It's certainly possible. Ditch the soda pops, coffee (sorry!), tomatoes, and citrus stuff.

Products Can Help You, Too

One way to keep your leaks to yourself is by using pads, but not just any kind of pads. If you're tempted to grab one of your menstrual pads that have been stashed away for a while, please don't. They might look like they can get the job done but they won't. Menstrual pads are great for absorbing menstrual flow but not the rapid output of urine. Instead, look into bladder control pads. They're much more comfortable and offer better protection. Bladder control pads are designed to control odor, keep you dry, and let you remain discreet about your leaks.

Using a Product is Okay

A lot of women are embarrassed about bladder leakage and don't discuss options with friends or their doctor. Others feel like a few leaks aren't that big of a deal. No matter how you feel about it, you don't have to just deal with it. Doing a few Kegels and wearing a bladder control pad as a backup is a great strategy for managing leaks.

Growing a human being inside of you is going to cause a lot of physical and hormonal changes that you may or may not expect. However, one thing you can expect is to have options to make those pesky leaks a little more bearable!

What are you currently doing about leaks? Tell us about it in the comments!


This Post was brought to you by Lily Bird

Lily Bird is for all women with leaky laughs and dribble dilemmas. We squeeze when we sneeze and drip when we jump. And we think it's high time we stop saying sorry for the spritz. We provide a hassle-free monthly subscription service for bladder leak products as well as free tips and tricks for women to take control of leaks via The Chirp.

Treating Overactive Bladder With Behavioral Modifications

 Treating Overactive Bladder With Behavioral Modifications

Overactive bladder can be very disruptive to a person’s life. Constantly rushing to the bathroom, feeling like you need to go every time you start to do the dishes, and the occasional leakage that comes with OAB can cause frustration and embarrassment.  

But did you know there are many simple behavioral changes you can make that can help you manage OAB, some of which may not even require a trip to the doctor? Read before for some new ideas to help you manage your OAB and prevent leaks. 

Diet

You may not be able to function without your morning cup of coffee, or that sugary mid afternoon snack, but did you know that certain types of food, such as caffeine and sugar can actually irritate your bladder and trigger OAB symptoms?  While not every known bladder trigger may be a trigger for you specifically (everyone’s different after all!), it’s worth it to start noting what you’re eating and drinking when you start experiencing symptoms.  Try keeping a bladder diary to track your food and drink intake, and see how it may be coinciding with your OAB.  And download our list of bladder irritants to hang on your fridge as a reminder of foods to watch out for.   

Exercise

Maintaining a healthy weight helps not only your waisteline – it’s good for your bladder too!  Being overweight can contribute to leaks so get out there and get moving. It doesn’t have to be strenuous – walking for 30 minutes a day can do wonder for your physical and mental well-being.  And a light weight routine can help you build muscle mass that will keep you strong and healthy. 

And don’t forget about your pelvic floor!  Maintaining a healthy pelvic floor is imperative to your bladder health.  If you struggle with OAB, and especially if that includes any amount of leakage, we recommend that you see a physical therapist to get an evaluation of your pelvic floor. Pelvic floors that are too weak, or too tight, can lead to urine leakage and its important to know how to both strengthen and relax your pelvic floor for optimal pelvic floor health. If you need help finding a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor health, use our specialist finder tool to find one in your area.

Bladder Retraining

Did you know you can actually retrain your bladder to hold urine for longer increments of time?  With a little practice, retraining your bladder can let you go for longer stints without needing to empty it.  Try our step by step guide here.

If you struggle with Overactive Bladder, watch the second video in our Overactive Bladder video series: Managing OAB With Behavioral Modifications. 



 

 

 

Living With Overactive Bladder (OAB)

 Living With Overactive Bladder

Do you find yourself constantly running to the bathroom, even if you’ve just been? Do you feel a sudden urge to go to the bathroom when you hear running water? Do you feel like you can barely make it to the bathroom in time without leaking? If so, you may have a condition called Overactive Bladder.

Overactive Bladder, or OAB, is the intense urge to use the bathroom. It usually comes on strong, sometimes out of nowhere, and in many cases, happens several times a day. Symptoms of OAB can also include leakage if you’re not able to make it to the bathroom in time.  And while OAB occurs more commonly in women, it’s not just a “woman’s condition”. Men can have OAB too.

Overactive bladder happens when your bladder muscles contract involuntarily, which causes an urgent need to urinate. This can occur even when your bladder is not very full, keeping you rushing to the bathroom even though you may have just been.

Many things may contribute to OAB – certain conditions such as diabetes, MS or a stroke, medications you might be taking, what you eat and drink, or an enlarged prostate in men. 

There are many treatment options available for Overactive Bladder – some you may have never heard of before. Take some time to learn about these options throughout the month with our OAB video series.

OAB is a medical condition that deserves attention.  Frequency and urgency – the hallmark symptoms of OAB – can really affect a person’s quality of life and limit their day-to-day activities.  If you think you may suffer from Overactive Bladder, learn more about it by watching this video – the first in our Overactive Bladder series.

November Is National Bladder Health Awareness Month!

Each year, NAFC takes part in National Bladder Health Awareness Month. It’s a time to speak out about bladder health conditions, such as incontinence, and is a chance for us to urge everyone to take notice of their bladder health and do something to improve it.  Over 25 million Americans live with incontinence each day, but it’s a condition that too often get’s swept under the rug and left out of pertinent doctor/patient discussions due to embarrassment or acceptance. 

The truth is, this is a hard subject for most. Let’s face it; incontinence is not something most people want to talk about around the dinner table. In fact, most women wait at least 7 years before even speaking with a doctor about incontinence. 

People hide incontinence from their friends, family and even their significant other.  Incontinence limits people’s lives and how they interact with each other – fear of having an accident takes precedent over time with friends, family and even work.  It’s a taboo subject, but we believe we can change that. And you can help.

This month, take charge of your bladder health and incontinence by taking some actionable steps to manage your condition.

Start Managing Your Condition

Start by downloading our Getting Started Guide, a step-by-step manual designed to help you start managing incontinence even before visiting a doctor.   

Help Raise Awareness Within Your Immediate Circle Of Friends

If we all started speaking up a little more about incontinence, it wouldn’t be such a taboo issue.  Do your part to raise awareness of bladder health and incontinence by clicking the share links on each image and sharing these facts on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

“Visit nafc.org to learn management tips and tricks on how to have a happy, healthy bladder!

 Visit NAFC.org To Learn More About How To Have A Happy Healthy Bladder! #BHealth

Learn the steps to take to manage your incontinence symptoms at nafc.org.

Exercise is good for your body, and your bladder. Learn more about how to improve incontinence symptoms with diet and exercise at nafc.org.

 Exercise is good for your body, and your bladder. Learn more about how to improve incontinence symptoms with diet and exercise at nafc.org. #BHealth

Incontinence can be hard to deal with. But we can help. Learn more at nafc.org.

Need some help managing your incontinence, but don't know where to turn? Visit nafc.org to find a specialist in your area! #BHealth

 Need some help managing your incontinence, but don't know where to turn? Visit nafc.org to find a specialist in your area! #BHealth

Many foods can irritate the bladder, including caffeine. Learn about other bladder irritants at nafc.org.

 Learn the steps to take to manage your incontinence symptoms at nafc.org. #BHealth

Up To 45% Of Women Have Incontinence. And while it might be common, it's not normal. Learn more and get help at nafc.org.

 Incontinence can be hard to deal with. But we can help. Learn more at nafc.org. #BHealth

Even when you have incontinence, it's important to stay hydrated. Learn more bladder health tips at nafc.org.

 Many foods can irritate the bladder, including caffeine. Learn about other bladder irritants at nafc.org. #BHealth

Did you know that over 33 million Americans have Overactive Bladder? Learn more about it and how to treat it at nafc.org.

 Up To 45% Of Women Have Incontinence. And while it might be common, it's not normal. Learn more and get help at nafc.org. #BHealth
 Even when you have incontinence, it's important to stay hydrated. Learn more bladder health tips at nafc.org. #BHealth
 Did you know that over 33 million Americans have Overactive Bladder? Learn more about it and how to treat it at nafc.org. #BHealth

Follow Along With Us This Month 

We’re shining a spotlight on Overactive Bladder and will be rolling out a new series of videos on the many ways to treat OAB.  Check in with us here on the BHealth Blog throughout the month to watch the videos and learn about management options for this widespread condition.

 

Make A Donation To NAFC

NAFC has served the public for over 25 years as a non-profit dedicated to educating, empowering, and supporting people living with bladder and bowel conditions.  Help us continue this mission by making a donation to NAFC – every cent counts and even a little can help us continue providing services to the over 1 million people who visit our site each year.   

Your contribution matters and can make a real difference.  It’s how we’re able to continue creating free courses for your local communities. It’s how we’re able to advocate for patients in home and at assisted care facilities for quality incontinence supplies. It’s how we provide thousands of free educational brochures to patients looking for help. And it’s how we are able to increase the awareness of the impact of incontinence on those it touches.

Please consider a donation to NAFC this November in honor of Bladder Health Awarenss Month.

Thanks for all you do to support us! Now get out there, start taking some action, and make some noise! 

5 Home Remedies For UTIs

 5 Home Remedies For Urinary Tract Infections - Image Of Cranberries

We get it. UTI’s are annoying and frustrating, especially if they’re recurrent.  The last thing you want to do is take time out of your busy day to visit your doctor for an antibiotic.

While antibiotics are the fastest and most recommended way to treat a UTI, there are some home remedies you can try to treat the condition. 

Below are 5 things you can try to treat a UTI on your own.

  1. Drink Lots Of Water. Drinking lots of water, and emptying your bladder when you need to, will help you flush harmful bacteria from your system. You may be hesitant to drink water due to the burning sensation you may have when peeing, but trust us on this – getting in your recommended 8 glasses a day will do you a world of good.

  2. Try Unsweetened Cranberry Juice. While the research is a bit unclear, cranberries have been used as prevention of UTI for generations. Studies have shown that cranberries actually make it harder for the bacteria that causes UTIs to stick to the urinary tract walls. So, while not really a remedy, if you frequently get UTIs, it might be worth drinking a couple of glasses of unsweetened cranberry juice, or snacking on the actual fruit (whole or dried).

  3. Don’t “Hold It”. We all get busy, but holding off going to the bathroom gives any bacteria that may already be in your bladder the chance to grow and multiply, potentially resulting in an infection (or keeping one that you already have alive and well). Drink lots of water and when you have to go, go.

  4. Try taking a probiotic. Introducing a probiotic to your system may help to replenish naturally occurring bacteria that live in the vagina, which can help fight off the bad bacteria that causes a UTI and restore the balance.

  5. Eat garlic. It turns out that garlic doesn’t just ward off vampires. A recent study showed that garlic extract may be effective in reducing the bacteria that causes UTIs.

Have you tried any of the above, or other home treatments to treat your UTI? Tell us about them in the comments below!

How To Get Rid Of A Bladder Infection Fast

 How to get rid of a bladder infection fast.

If you’re reading this post, you’re likely in the midst of a bladder infection or urinary tract infection (UTI) and are in some serious need of relief now!  We get it – UTIs are no fun – they can be really painful, leave you rushing to the bathroom nonstop, and can even lead to leaks. So it’s no wonder you’re researching quick cures for bladder infections. 

The best thing you can do for fast relief from a bladder infection is to is see your doctor, and get an antibiotic. 

Antibiotics kill the bacteria that causes bladder infections and are the best way to stop a UTI in its tracks. They typically work pretty quickly, although be sure to take your medication for the full course, even if you’re feeling better sooner than that.  So, if you’ve been experiencing a UTI for more than a couple of days, make an appointment with your doctor now to get treatment.

In the meantime, there are a few things you can do for a little relief.

  1. Drink water – lots of it. Getting in the recommended eight glasses of water per day can help flush the bacteria out of your bladder and make you heal a bit faster.  Limit your caffeine or sugary drinks though, as they can irritate you bladder.
  2. When you gotta go, go. Holding your urine when you really have to go gives time for the bacteria in your system to multiply, making it harder to get rid of. 
  3. Talk to your doctor about over the counter pain relievers. While these won’t cure a UTI, they may help give you a bit of relief while you’re waiting for the antibiotics to treat the infection. 
  4. Rest.  Getting enough rest gives your body the energy it needs to be able to fight off an infection. Make sure you are getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  5. Wear loose clothing.  Not only will this be more comfortable for you during this time, but it might also prevent bacteria growth. Bacteria grow the quickest in moist, warm environments so ditch the skinny jeans for a week or so and opt for loose trousers, skirts or dresses. 

Follow the steps above for quick relief from UTIs.  

7 Tell-Tale Signs You Have A Bladder Infection

 7 Signs You Have A Bladder Infection Or UTI.

If you’ve suffered from bladder infections in the past, you likely know the symptoms when you spot them. After all, a UTI is an unpleasant experience and not easily forgettable. But if you’re experiencing one for the first time, it may be hard to know what your symptoms mean. 

Below are 7 signs that you may be suffering from a bladder infection or a UTI.  Of course, any of these may occur on their own, but a UTI is more likely when you experience a combination of any of the below. 

7 Signs That You May Be Suffering From A Bladder Infection Or UTI

A painful burning sensation.

A strong burning sensation when you’re urinating is one of the most common signs of having a bladder infection. It happens when bacteria, (most often E. coli) gets into your urethra.

Needing to go. A lot. 

Many women with UTIs experience the need to go to the bathroom often – even if they just went.  These bathroom trips typically don’t produce much urine.

An overwhelming need to urinate fast. 

If you’re rushing to the bathroom often, with the intense need to urinate NOW, it may be a sign of a urinary tract infection.  This typically is accompanied by painful urination.

Abdominal pain.

Pain, pressure or tenderness in your abdomen and pubic area is common with a bladder infection.  If the pain moves to your lower back, it could be an indication that the infection has spread to your kidneys. 

Cloudy, or Bloody Urine.

Cloudy colored urine is common in urinary tract infections, and if you see blood in the urine, it may be a sign of a leakage of red-blood cells from your kidneys. Both are signs of a UTI or bladder infection.

Strong Smelling Urine. 

This may be one of the first indications that you’re developing a UTI.  You can thank the bacteria that are causing the infection for producing a strong ammonia smell, or a sweet or off-smelling urine. 

Fever.  

While less common, and certainly not an indicator on it’s own, if you’ve developed any of the above symptoms, and also have a fever, it’s time to get checked out by a doctor (if you haven’t already).  A UTI is considered more serious the farther up the urinary tract is goes, and fever (and sometimes chills, or even nausea or vomiting) can be an indication that it’s reached the kidneys.  If this happens, call your doctor right away.

If you’re experiencing any combination of the symptoms above, see a doctor right away. Bladder infections are often treated with antibiotics and the sooner you start them, the sooner you’ll find relief. 

 

 

 

Ask The Expert: Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?

 NAFC Ask The Expert Logo

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question:  I’ve been feeling a really burning sensation when I pee the past few days. What’s happening?

Answer: While a burning sensation can be caused by many things such as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or a kidney infection you likely have a UTI, or a bladder infection.  UTIs are very common, and are typically caused by bacteria that get into the urinary tract through the urethra.

UTI’s are more common in women, but can occur in men too. Symptoms may include not only a burning sensation, but frequent urges to urinate, abdominal pain, fever, and cloudy, bloody, or strong-smelling urine.

UTIs are generally treated with antibiotics, which can ease symptoms pretty quickly, although prevention is key.  Be sure to always drink plenty of water, eat a healthy diet, don’t hold in your urine, urinate after sex, and keep your vaginal area clean.  Make sure you’re wiping from front to back to avoid introducing new bacteria into your vaginal area. 

It also helps to keep stress to a minimum – while stress doesn’t necessarily cause a UTI, when you’re highly stressed, your immune system doesn’t work quite as well and can lead to you developing illnesses or infections.  Practice some stress-reducing activities, such as exercise or meditation.

UTIs can be painful and inconvenient, but with quick attention, they don’t have to keep you down.  Talk to your doctor for treatment, and then practice some of the steps above to prevent them from happening in the future. 

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Have a question you'd like answered? Contact us!

Finding Your People: A Guide To Online Communities For Caregivers

 A Guide To Online Communities For Caregivers

Caring for someone else’s needs is a lot of work, and at times, a thankless job – even when it’s for someone you love. Learning the ins and outs of the various conditions your loved one may be suffering from, figuring out how to navigate Medicare and hospital paperwork, managing the physical toll, and even the financial strain is enough to make anyone second guess why they took on the job in the first place.

But finding a community of people you can lean on can be a real lifesaver. A great community can connect you with others who have experienced what you’re going through. You’ll find people who can answer the questions you may be dealing with, and those you can just vent to about the rough time you’ve been having lately. They can share tips and resources, knowledge and compassion. 

Living in such an online world makes it easier than ever to find a group you can lean on. Message boards and forums are a great place to connect with a lot of people like you, and to get and share a lot of information in one place. 

So what are you waiting for? Here are some great groups to check out. Most of these allow you to poke around a bit without posting anything, which is a great way to learn a lot and also get a feel for the community.  When you’re ready, share your own voice and start reaping the rewards that come with having a large group of caring people to lean on.

Online Communities For Caregivers:

Agingcare.com

 

Caregiver Action

 

The National Association For Continence Message Boards

 

The Caregiver Space

 

Caring.com

 

The Caregiver Space

 

Know of some other great forums for caregivers to connect? Share them in the comments!

Online Resources For Caregivers

 Online Resources For Caregivers

Choosing to take on the role of Caregiver can be daunting. The paperwork alone is overwhelming, let alone the emotional, physical and financial toll it can take.  Where can you turn for help? Luckily, there are a number of great resources out there to help you navigate the various tasks of caregiving.  See below for a list of organizations that offer help and support.

Useful Online Resources For Caregivers

AARP Family Caregiving

AgingCare.com

AssistGuide Information Services

American Red Cross

ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center

Caregiver Action Network

ElderCare.com

Eldercare Locator

Family Caregiver Alliance

Medicare

National Alliance For Caregiving

National Clearinghouse for Long-term Care Information

Social Security Administration

State Health Insurance Assistance Program

Well Spouse Association

 

For a more complete list of resources, visit the Caregiver Action Network’s comprehensive list.  

The High Cost Of Caregiving

 The High Cost Of Caregiving

Marilyn remembers the day that she toured 3 nursing homes for her elderly mother. “Each one was very functional, but they seemed cold and lonely, institutional”, she said. “At the end of the day I just cried. I couldn’t put my mother in one of those places. And the cost was outrageous. Eventually, I decided to take her in myself.”

What Marilyn didn’t realize was even having her mother home with her would end up being a huge financial strain too.  The extra help she needed from regular nursing aid visits, the supplies – they all added up. “It really put a financial strain on my family”, said Marilyn.

Most family caregivers are unaware of the high cost of caring for a loved one at home. Calculating these costs in advance can help you know more of what to expect, and can help you evaluate if it’s truly something that will work for you.

Out Of Pocket Costs

Out of pocket costs for caregiving can be significant.  A study done by AARP estimated that on average, family caregivers spend roughly $7,000 per year on out of pocket costs related to caregiving. (1)  And if you’re caring for a loved one who lives far away, or one who lives with you in your home, expect to pay more. ($11,923 or $8,616, respectively).  (1)

This can be a huge financial strain on caregivers and their families. The AARP study estimated that caregivers spend on average nearly 20% of their income on caregiving activities. (1) And it’s not all just for medical care – household expenses, such as rent or mortgage payments, or home modifications, account for about 41% of spending.  (1) Medical expenses, such as assisted living, insurance, or other medical costs average around 25% of spending. (1)

Lost Wages And Career Advancement

Care for a family member yourself may feel like the best thing to do, but it will cost you in more ways than just out of pocket expenses. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, women who care for their parents lose an estimated $324,044 in lost wages, benefits, and retirement funds. (Men lose $283,716.) (2)

And caregiving can negatively affect work performance and career advancement: 61% of caregivers experience at least one change in their employment due to caregiving, such as cutting back work hours, taking a leave of absence, taking a demotion, receiving a warning about performance or attendance, arriving late, or even giving up working entirely. (2)

Reduced Savings

Unfortunately, caregiving for a loved one typically comes at a time when the caregivers also need to plan and save for their own retirement. The decision to stop working in order to care for a loved one can jeopardize their future financial security. (3) This is dangerous, since it’s estimated that a couple can expect to pay an average of $280,000 in health care costs alone throughout their retirement. (4)

Plan and Prepare

The best thing to do? Start planning early.  Set up a savings account now for yourself, so that you can be better prepared for the future. Next, talk with your loved one about what they’ve already done to plan for their own long-term care. You may qualify for tax breaks, or credits, or you may be able to utilize an employer FSA (flex spending account) to help cut some costs.

Talk with your employer about your situation too. More companies are starting to offer benefits to caregivers, such as helping to pay for backup care, or advisory services to help you navigate the many aspects of caregiving.

Even if your company doesn’t offer these formally, it’s still a good idea to have a discussion with them about your situation. There may be ways for you to work more flexible hours in order to manage the demands of caregiving, or even take some paid leave to assist with your loved one’s needs. Some big-name companies, such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Deloitte all offer different amounts of paid leave programs to care for loved ones.

In the end, making the decision to become a caregiver is a personal choice. The rewards of caregiving can be great, but it can also come at a high personal sacrifice – both financially and emotionally, for you and your family members.  Do your research, and be sure to have an honest and open discussion with everyone involved.


References:

1. Rainville, Chuck, Laura Skufca, and Laura Mehegan. Family Caregiving and Out-of-Pocket Costs: 2016 Report. Washington, DC: AARP Research, November 2016. https://doi.org/10.26419/res.00138.001

2. https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-statistics-work-and-caregiving

3. The MetLife Market Survey of Long-term Care Costs, 2011:  https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/livable-communities/old-learn/health/the-metlife-market-survey-of-nursing-home-assisted-living-adult-day-services-and-home-care-costs-2011-aarp.pdf

4. The Fidelity Retiree Health Care Cost Estimate, 2018. https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/plan-for-rising-health-care-costs

Ask The Expert: Should I Get Vaccinations If I Have IBD?

 Should I Get Vaccinations If I Have IBD?

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: I suffer from IBD and have always thought that vaccines would place me at a greater risk for developing an infection due to an already compromised auto-immune system. Is this true?

Answer: Many patients with IBD believe that they should not get certain vaccinations because they are concerned about side effects, and think that the vaccines won’t benefit them. But the truth is, IBD already is placing patients at a greater risk for developing vaccine-preventable illnesses. This is even more true if you are on an immunosuppressive therapy. This is why it’s important to talk to your doctor about vaccinations to ensure that you’re getting the protection you need. 

Guidelines recommend vaccinating prior to starting immunosuppressive therapy, since the efficacy of the vaccine is higher in non-immunosuppressed IBD patients.

And while it is generally recommended that all adults with IBD receive non-live vaccines (in line with the national guidelines), certain live vaccines may not be recommended for some patients.

Talk to your doctor about the vaccines you need and determine a plan for getting up to date.

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Have a question you'd like answered? Contact us!

Home Remedies For IBS

 Home Remedies For IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also commonly known as IBS, can cause symptoms such as painful cramps, bloating, excessive gas, diarrhea, and even constipation. For some people, the impact of IBS on daily living can be extensive and can negatively affect quality of life. But there are things that you can do to treat IBS naturally. And since it’s a chronic condition, it’s a good idea to learn some methods for keeping it in check and managing the symptoms.

There is no cure for IBS, but knowing what your triggers are, and how to avoid them, can greatly reduce your symptoms. Read below for some ideas on how to manage your IBS symptoms without medication.

EXERCISE.

Working out can help keep your digestive system working properly. It’s also a great way to relieve stress and anxiety, two big contributors to IBS symptoms. Exercising can be as easy as taking a short walk around your neighborhood. The key here is consistency, so aim for a 30-minutes, 4-5 times per week.

DIET.

What you eat when you have IBS can make a huge difference. Many people find that certain foods will cause them more problems, so try to avoid these when you can:

  •          Dairy products
  •          Spicy Foods
  •          Citrus Fruits
  •          Sugar
  •          Caffeine (including chocolate)
  •          Alcohol
  •          Soda
  •          Fried Foods
  •          Beans
  •          Broccoli or cauliflower

WATCH HOW YOU EAT.

How you eat may be just as important as what you’re eating. Eating more slowly helps prevent you from swallowing too much air, which can cause excessive gas. And opting for smaller meals throughout your day can help you avoid overloading the digestive system, which can cause cramping and diarrhea.

MANAGING STRESS.

Stress can be a big contributor to IBS so learning effective ways to manage it can really help to alleviate symptoms. Exercise, as mentioned above can be a great stress reliever. You can also try practicing mindfulness, which has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress in many people. Talking with a friend or a counselor about stressful situations can also do wonders to help you calm your mind.

PROBIOTICS.

Probiotics are specific species and strains of bacteria that we eat which are thought to improve gut health. Its unknown exactly how these work, but by improving your “gut health”, you may also improve your IBS symptoms. Probiotics can be taken as supplements, and are also found in things like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and Kombucha.

GO EASY ON THE LAXATIVES.

Many people turn towards OTC laxatives to manage their IBS symptoms, but be careful – improper use of these products can sometimes make things worse. Always talk with your doctor about how to integrate them into your treatment plan before trying them on your own.

The most important thing you can do is to pay attention to your body and how you’re feeling. Notice how certain foods affect you and try your best to avoid them. Recognize when you’re feeling stressed out and find ways to calm your mind down. With a bit of practice, you’ll be on your way to fewer IBS symptoms, and a better ability to manage them.

Practicing Mindfulness To Ease IBS Symptoms

 Practicing Mindfulness To Ease IBS Symptoms

In today’s hectic and crazy world, it’s hard to even think about finding the time to just sit and practice mindfulness.  For many, it’s a hard concept to grasp, and as a practice, it can feel intimidating to start. But carving out even 5-10 minutes of each day for some quite time can do wonders for your stress and anxiety levels, and may even help with things like IBS symptoms, simply by calming your mind and being objectively aware of how you’re feeling.

BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS

Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years and is thought to have originated in Eastern cultures and religions.   Turns out that the ancient practitioners were on to something. Recent research has shown that mindfulness has many benefits, including the following: 

  • Reduced rumination
  • Reduced stress and decreased anxiety
  • Increased working memory capacity
  • Better ability to focus
  • Less emotional reactivity
  • Enhanced self-insight
  • Increased immune functioning
  • Improvements in well-being

WHAT TO EXPECT

Before you start practicing mindfulness, you need to know a bit about what to expect.  The main goal of mindfulness is to be able to pay attention to the present moment you’re in, without judgment. This sounds pretty easy, but once you get started you’ll see it’s much harder than it appears.

Your mind has a mind of it’s own and tends to drift toward all sorts of things except what’s happening to you right at this moment – that big work project coming up, the cupcakes you promised to make for your 3rd grader’s class this week, an upsetting conversation you had with a friend or family member, your growing to-do list, and on and on.

But not to fear – your wandering mind is completely normal and it just takes some practice pulling your thoughts back to the present moment once you realize they’ve drifted off. Once you’re able to this in practice, you’ll find you’re better able to do it in real life too, making you more present in your day-to-day activities.

HOW TO START

  1. Find a comfortable place to practice.  This doesn’t have to be a picturesque seat in the middle of a garden or waterfall. It can be a comfortable chair in your kitchen, a quite spot outside, or even your desk chair in your office. The main thing is to find a place that feels good to you. Be sure that your body posture is comfortable too, and that you’re in a position that you can remain in for the length of your practice.
  2. Start with 5-10 minutes. This feels like a small amount of time, but is a great place to start when you’re trying to fit this practice into your day. And when you’re just getting started, trust us when we say that even 5-10 minutes may feel like a long time to just sit still. As you continue with your practice, you can begin to extend your time.
  3. Concentrate on your breathing. No need to count your breaths or hold it for a specific amount of time. Just feel your breath as you inhale and exhale slowly and regularly.
  4. If you feel your mind start to wander (and you will), just acknowledge it and then pull your concentration back to your breath.
  5. Don’t judge yourself or your feelings.  This is hard work, and takes practice to be able to continually be present and not focus on the things that are happening in our lives.
  6. Practice makes perfect. Or at least it makes you better. With continued practice of mindfulness meditation, you’ll become much better at staying focused throughout and that will bleed into other areas of your life as well. We know it’s hard to sit still for a set time each day, but stay with it. The benefits are well worth it.

Need a little help getting started? Check out this guide to find some apps that can help you stay focused and guide you through your meditation practice.

GARDEN STATE UROLOGY NAMED A CENTER OF EXCELLENCE BY NAFC

Urology group recognized for exemplary care, dedication to patients

WHIPPANY, NJ – JUNE 2018 Garden State Urology, part of Atlantic Medical Group, was recently designated a Center of Excellence by the National Association for Continence.

Garden State Urology is a cooperative urology group that provides residents in northwestern New Jersey with a modern, integrated, comprehensive health care experience for all urologic issues. It is the first full-service community-based urology practice to receive the NAFC’s Center of Excellence designation.

Formed in 2008, Garden State Urology includes 14 locations, with a team of about 150 employees, including 23 board-certified physicians. GSU is part of Atlantic Medical Group, which is Atlantic Health System’s multispecialty physician network that provides high-quality, comprehensive medical care throughout northern and central New Jersey and northeast Pennsylvania.

The Center of Excellence designation was largely driven by the achievements in treating overactive bladder, male and female incontinence and pelvic prolapse (dropped bladder) by David Chaikin, M.D., and Michael Ingber, M.D., who are both board certified in Urology and Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (Urogynecology).

The physicians use a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and treating female and male continence issues. This includes:

  • The latest surgical techniques such as Botox injections or neurostimulation for overactive bladder
  • Minimally-invasive vaginal surgery for pelvic organ prolapse
  • Robotic surgery using the da Vinci surgical system
  • Minimally-invasive procedures such as sling surgery for stress incontinence
  • Non-surgical approaches such as in-office pelvic muscle rehabilitation
  • Vaginal rejuvenation to prevent urinary tract infections and painful intercourse in women, using the Mona Lisa Touch laser system or Votiva radiofrequency system
  • The practice is also one of the few in the region that use video urodynamic testing, a process in which the bladder is filled to reproduce symptoms that are then captured by x-ray. This procedure helps physicians to make more accurate diagnoses, leading to better outcomes.

GSU also offers a personal nurse navigator for patients who are suffering with overactive bladder symptoms, at no additional cost. The nurse navigator connects with patients regularly to help them understand their diagnosis, coordinate communication with their physician, and facilitate treatments, including appointments and diagnostic testing.

“Our patients’ needs are at the center of everything we do, from the most advanced tools and treatments to addressing their concerns and getting them back to normal function” said Dr. Chaikin, vice president of Garden State Urology. “The Center of Excellence designation will help highlight our commitment to those in our communities seeking high-quality urologic services.”

NAFC's Centers of Excellence (COE) program was established to recognize centers and facilities that excel in providing bladder and bowel health care to patients, and to assist consumers dealing with pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence issues in searching for an expert. The COE designation is based on evidence of training, clinical experience, resources, and patient satisfaction statistics that meet established standards. These rigorous standards ensure that each center that is designated a COE is truly exceptional at providing care for patients with pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence.

Garden State Urology’s commitment to the highest standards of care is evident in the patient-centric philosophy and impressive clinical outcomes of their team of board-certified physicians, many of whom have been named by Castle-Connolly as Top Doctors and recognized regionally by U.S. News & World Report as Best in urology,” said Steven G. Gregg, Ph.D., executive director for the National Association for Continence. “It is a great honor to recognize an organization like Garden State Urology, which relentlessly seeks to improve the quality of care to provide an excellent experience for their patients.”

About NAFC

National Association for Continence is a national, private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with incontinence, voiding dysfunction and related pelvic floor disorders. NAFC's purpose is to be the leading source for public education and advocacy about the causes, prevention, diagnosis, treatments and management alternatives for incontinence. More information is available online at www.NAFC.org.

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System, headquartered in Morristown, N.J., is an integrated health care delivery system powered by a workforce of over 16,000 team members and 4,796 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities. The system is comprised of over 400 sites of care, including six hospitals: Morristown Medical Center, Overlook Medical Center, Newton Medical Center, Chilton Medical Center, Hackettstown Medical Center and Goryeb Children’s Hospital.

It also includes Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network representing 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ. This network includes more than 900 physicians and providers within the Atlantic Medical Group, as well as members of the Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners which work to enhance patient care delivery.

Atlantic Health System also supports communities through Atlantic Rehabilitation and Atlantic Home Care and Hospice. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health. Atlantic Health System is a founding member of AllSpire Health Partners, a consortium of five leading health care organizations from the New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania region.

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