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Incontinence Stories From Experts & Real People | NAFC BHealth Blog

Log in daily to learn tips about #incontinence, #bladder leakage, overcoming symptoms, and first hand accounts from experts and patients.

 

Bladder Control Loss And Travel

Sarah Jenkins

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For the more than 25 million Americans with bladder control loss, leaving their comfort zone can be a daunting thought. Even short trips can cause anxiety, let alone long road trips or air travel. It doesn’t have to be this way. With preparation and the right know-how, the anxious and uncomfortable feelings can be eliminated.

Imagine forgoing a golfing trip with your buddies or missing your favorite niece’s graduation because you will be in a situation where there may not be restrooms in sight. This is what many people with urinary incontinence and overactive bladder do. There are steps to take before your trip so that you are prepared for these situations.

As with most things, preparation is key. Think about how you will be traveling and make a plan for what to do in certain situations. If you’re traveling by airplane, get an aisle seat. And be sure to go to the bathroom before the drink cart heads down the aisle. If you’re traveling by car, you can use online tools and apps to find rest stops along your driving routes. Not every car on a passenger train has a restroom; perhaps you need to consider upgrading to business class or ask the reservation clerk for a seat closest to the toilet. And public toilets are often lacking supplies. Always have hand sanitizer, wipes, and pocket tissue handy. Which brings us to our second tip...

Pack management tools. Absorbent products are lifesavers when traveling and can help prevent embarrassing leaks. Make sure to choose products that fit your needs – look at the form, fi and function of a product when evaluating your options. Visit the absorbent product section of NAFC’s website for more information.

You should also pay attention to what you are eating and drinking. Diet can have a profound effect on your voiding patterns. Stay away from caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners. These are known bladder irritants. And make sure you drink plenty of water. Many people who have bladder control problems reduce the amount of liquids they drink in the hope that they will need to urinate less often. While consuming less water may mean fewer trips to the bathroom, the smaller amount of urine may be more highly concentrated and, thus, irritating to the bladder. Highly concentrated (dark yellow, strong-smelling) urine may cause you to go to the bathroom more frequently, and it encourages growth of bacteria.

Finally, consider talking to your doctor about medication to control your bladder. Be aware that you will need to begin to take these medications weeks before your trip for them to begin to take effect when you need them to. It is also helpful to get acclimated to the effects of a new medication, such as dry mouth or constipation, so that you can find ways to manage these side effects before going out of town.

Do not let your bladder control your life. If you are experiencing bladder control loss and you haven’t spoken to your doctor or healthcare provider about it you need to do so now. Help is available for everyone. More and more new treatments are successfully used for all types of incontinence. Improvement begins with you and continues through active participation in your treatment program.


NAFC  is a small non-profit that operates with all the expenses of a large organization. Please help us continue our mission by making a donation. Even a small gift can make a difference and will help ensure we are able to keep this FREE resource alive and help more people learn to live a Life Without Leaks. PLEASE DONATE TODAY!

Ask The Expert: How Do I Talk With My Husband About His Incontinence?

Sarah Jenkins

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Question:  My husband of 47 years has recently started experiencing incontinent episodes. He’s a very proud man and doesn’t want to admit them to me, but it’s starting to become a problem due to the increased laundry, smell and his overall depressed attitude about it. How can I get him to open up and talk with me about it?

 

Answer:

This is a common problem in marriages, especially pertaining to men. Most men don’t want to admit they have a problem with bladder control. They feel ashamed, and hate the idea of wearing protection. He may never come out and admit it to you on his own, so here are some tips to broach the subject with him:

1. Make him feel comfortable.

As you’ve already figured out, incontinence is a very uncomfortable subject for your husband. Make him feel at ease and approach him about his bladder leakage in a way that is not threatening or accusatory. Find some neutral territory and talk to him at a time when he feels good. Don’t try to broach this subject right after he’s had an accident.  That will only make him feel more embarrassed and ashamed.

2. Show him that you are understanding and want to help him with his bladder leakage.

Before you talk with him, do a little research on incontinence and learn what may be causing the issue. Did he just have prostate surgery? Is there something else that has changed recently that could be contributing to his accidents? Read about the causes, and the many different treatment options and management strategies for bladder leakage. Show him that there are ways to manage the condition and that he doesn’t have to just live with it. Let him know that you care about him and want to help. Show him that you are a team so that he doesn’t feel so alone.

3. Encourage him to seek treatment for his incontinence.

Incontinence can often be a symptom of an underlying condition. Let your husband know that you want him to talk with a doctor to make sure that there is nothing serious going on, and to help him get the problem under control. He may be resistant to speaking with his doctor, but press on (slowly). The sooner he confronts his incontinence with a professional, the sooner he can begin treatment and start feeling like himself again. (Find a specialist in your area with our Specialist Locator.)

4. Be his advocate for care.

Because your husband is so embarrassed about his incontinence, you may need to be his voice when seeking out treatment options. Help him research incontinence so that you both can learn more about it. Write out questions that he can bring with him to the doctors office to ensure he doesn’t forget anything important. Be sure to voice any concerns over treatment options. And help him stay the course on his path to treatment.

5. Introduce him to the NAFC message boards.

The NAFC message boards are a great place for your husband to explore and ask questions – anonymously! There are many people on the boards who may be experiencing the same things he is who he can talk to. Plus, with so many people dealing with incontinence in the same spot, there are lots of learnings and tips he may be able to pull from to help his own situation. (As an aside, the message boards may also be a great spot for you to do some research too.  Talk with other caregivers to get some ideas. Or ask other men living with incontinence how you might be able to best approach your husband about the topic.)

It’s never easy talking about incontinence to a loved one – especially men. But by being a caring and supportive spouse, you’ll show your husband that you are in his corner, and that you are there to help. Good luck!


NAFC  is a small non-profit that operates with all the expenses of a large organization. Please help us continue our mission by making a donation. Even a small gift can make a difference and will help ensure we are able to keep this FREE resource alive and help more people learn to live a Life Without Leaks. PLEASE DONATE TODAY!

Patient Perspective: Why I Finally Decided To Get Help

Sarah Jenkins

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I was 12 years old when I used to watch my Mother hide her incontinence.  We’d be out somewhere and she’d commonly run off toward the bathroom, her spare pants hidden in her purse. Or, we’d be at home, washing dishes together after dinner and she would stop, mid-sentence, to race to the toilet, always returning in a different pair of pants. I knew better not to ask her about it – it was one of those things that she just wouldn’t open up about, and I could tell she didn’t want anyone else to know – especially my father.

Years later, when I became a mother and started experiencing leaks myself I began my own charade of pretending everything was normal. I, like my mother, didn’t want anyone to know I couldn’t control my bladder. “Who would understand?”, I thought. “It’s just a part of becoming older and a result of having children.” After all, that’s what I was always conditioned to believe.  And so, I lived most of my years as a mother hiding my problem from my family, my friends, and my doctor.

It wasn’t until I became a Grandmother that the reality hit me. I was staying with my daughter, helping her care for her new baby girl, my first grandchild. I watched as she, a brand new mother still recovering from childbirth struggled with bladder control issues in those first few days. I saw how she tried to hide her accidents from me, and for the first time, I felt truly ashamed – not because I suffered from incontinence, but because my pride had kept me from opening up to others about my problem, and in a way, continued this needless cycle of denial and hiding. I decided at that moment that it would stop – for my daughter, my granddaughter and for myself.  I spoke openly with my daughter that day about my struggles with incontinence throughout my life, and how I couldn’t bear to see her waste her precious time with her new little girl worrying about something that now seemed so trivial. I let her know that I knew this was a common problem, but was certain there were things that could be done for her if it didn’t improve in the course of her post-partum recovery. And, I made a commitment, to her and to myself, that I would seek treatment too. I was done hiding, and done being ashamed.

We as women have come so far over the course of my life – rising in ranks in the corporate world, making an immense impact to society, accomplishing amazing things. Why do we continue to let something like incontinence make us feel so ashamed that we don’t ever even seek a solution to the problem?

I wish my mother would have opened up with me about incontinence. Maybe I wouldn’t have felt so alone and isolated all of these years. But, I’m grateful that I’m finally breaking the cycle of shame and doing something positive for the two women that I love most in the world. At least it’s a start. I hope, if you’re reading this, you’ll decide to join me.

Sandy L., Morristown, NJ

Want to share your own story? Enter it here! You may remain anonymous and your story may help inspire others dealing with incontinence issues to seek help! 


NAFC  is a small non-profit that operates with all the expenses of a large organization. Please help us continue our mission by making a donation. Even a small gift can make a difference and will help ensure we are able to keep this FREE resource alive and help more people learn to live a Life Without Leaks. PLEASE DONATE TODAY!

Ask The Expert: How Do I Avoid Leaks When Visiting Loved Ones?

Sarah Jenkins

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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 incontinence and will be visiting my daughter for 3 weeks this holiday season. I’m terrified I’ll have an accident at her house. Do you have any precautions I can take to avoid leaks and the accompanying embarrassment?

Answer: This is a common concern and is a great topic to discuss around the holidays. There are many things you can do to avoid leaks, as well as a few things you can have at the ready in case a leak does happen at your loved one’s home.  

As always, preparation is key, and will help give you some peace of mind knowing that you have the proper products in place to prevent leaks. Be sure to bring plenty of supplies with you: absorbent products for day and night, extra changes of clothes (black is a great color choice since it goes with everything and hides leaks well), and extra medication, if you’re on it. After all, when traveling during the winter season, anything is possible and delayed or canceled flights can leave you unprepared – pack extras so that you have enough to last you for a few extra days just in case. If you have trouble at night, bring your own waterproof pad (or two) to protect the bedding. Don’t forget about any other supplies you may need – skin protectants or cleansers, detergents for doing a load of laundry, disposable plastic bags to hold used or wet products, and an odor neutralizing spray to hide any unwanted odors.

An extra bag can help you transport and hide your supplies, as well as serve as a place to store used products or clothes that you can dispose of when convenient for you.  And if you’re a woman, upgrade your purse to a tote bag that can hold extra supplies you may need when you’re out and about.

Finally, the holidays can be a time of indulgence, so watch what you’re eating and drinking. Skip the coffee and alcohol, limit spicy foods and sweets, and avoid any foods that you know irritate your bladder. 

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!

What Exactly Does NAFC Do?....A Lot.

Sarah Jenkins

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As a visitor to this blog and website, you probably know that NAFC exists to help those with incontinence. In fact, our mission is pretty clear:  The National Association For Continence is a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with incontinence, voiding dysfunction, and related pelvic floor disorders. Our purpose is to be the leading source for public education and advocacy about the causes, prevention, diagnosis, treatments, and management alternatives for incontinence. 

Simply put, we don’t think anyone should have to live with bladder leaks. NAFC strives to de-stigmatize incontinence, promote preventative measures, and motivate individuals to seek treatment.

But have you ever wondered how we do all this? Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the ways we’re working every day to support our mission:

We’re providing high-quality information that you can trust.

NAFC creates and publishes (with the help of qualified healthcare professionals) information about all types of bladder and bowel health conditions and makes it all available through our website, NAFC.org, for anyone and everyone to learn from. We offer free brochures, tools to help you manage your condition, regularly updated stories and blogs from patients living with incontinence and experts on the condition, and even a way to find a doctor near you. We offer Healthcare Professionals tools for their office, free courses they can use in their community to educate patients, and up to date information about incontinence and the incontinence market. Above all else, we want people to be educated about their condition and to know the options available to them.

We’re raising awareness.  

Our high quality content means nothing if we’re not able to get it to the people who need us. We are a small organization, with even smaller budgets. But despite that, we’ve managed to reach quite a large number of people with our message. In the past 12 months, we’ve had nearly 1 million people visit our website. Our efforts in social media and online advertising have had over 10 million impressions.  On a monthly basis we send our newsletter, filled with tips, management tools, and news on incontinence to over 10,000 people. And our awareness campaign this past year has helped show millions that a “Life Without Leaks” is a very real possibility.

We’re providing community.  

NAFC’s message boards are filled with nearly 2,000 active users and were visited 30,000 times in the past year.  Our message boards have become a safe haven for those looking for advice from others going through similar things, or for those who just need to talk to someone who understands. Our goal when creating the message boards was to build an open, safe place where people can speak freely about their condition with no judgment. And judging by the number of people participating, we think we’ve done that. NAFC also maintains an active social media presence on Facebook and Twitter to help foster community and interact with those looking for information on incontinence.

We’re advocates for quality standards.

Did you know that not all absorbent products are created equally? NAFC has long been an advocate for quality standards across adult absorbent products to ensure products are made with safe materials, are created with multiple sizing options and absorbency levels in mind, and are effective in keeping moisture away from the skin to prevent irritation.  We’ve published standards for disposable absorbent products and have created a Task Force that had been working to make it easier for states to adopt these standards. Learn more about our efforts here.

NAFC works tirelessly everyday to bring you quality information and to provide a community where you can learn and connect with others. And we’re fighting every day to ensure you have quality products to help you manage your condition. But we need your help to continue. All of our hard work also comes with expenses: website and server upkeep and maintenance, the development of new educational content, tools and programs, and the staff to support all of our advocacy and awareness efforts.

Will you help us this season by making a donation to NAFC? Our continued success depends on you. And with over 25 million people in the US living with incontinence, we still have a long way to go. If NAFC has made even a small difference in your life, please consider making a tax-deductible donation today.

We’re proud to serve you and to be bringing awareness to this condition that so often causes shame, embarrassment, and a reduced quality of life. Help us continue by making a donation today!

Want To Make A Difference For NAFC This Holiday Season? Here's How To Give Back.

Sarah Jenkins

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Another year will soon come to a close and we hope that we’ve made enough of a difference in helping you managing your incontinence that you’ll consider giving something back. NAFC is a small non-profit with all the expenses of a large organization: website upkeep and maintenance, staff, and the development of continued educational tools and programs for those touched by incontinence. While only a small amount of those who visit our website or read this blog typically give to NAFC, if everyone donated even a small amount, it would be enough to help us reach our goals and continue our mission of raising awareness of and de-stigmatizing. If you’d like to give back to us in some way, but aren’t sure how, read the suggestions below:

  1. Make A Donation. The most straightforward way to help us is to make a donation to NAFC. Your donation will go toward developing new programs and tools, keeping our information up to date, and advocating for quality standards for absorbent products.  Donate today
  2. Start Your Own Fundraiser To Raise Money For NAFC On Facebook. We know it’s not always possible to give, but you can still make a difference by creating your own fundraiser for NAFC on Facebook. It’s easy! Here’s how to do it!
  3. Make A Difference When You Shop For Holiday Gifts! Support our cause during the holiday season by shopping through AmazonSmile or GoodShop and selecting the National Association For Continence as your non-profit recipient. (Tip: You can do this all year long – not just during the holiday season!)
  4.  Become A Professional Member Of NAFC If You’re A Healthcare Professional. Membership comes with great benefits including a new member kit, invitations to participate in round table discussions, opportunities to be featured on our blog or in our newsletter, and the knowledge that you are helping support an organization that is much needed by your patients. Learn more about membership and join us today!  
  5. Buy Your Whole Office A Corporate Membership! Looking for the perfect holiday gift for your office? Become a Corporate Member of NAFC! Corporate members receive all the benefits of a normal membership, at a discounted rate. Learn more about our Corporate Membership offering here and sign up today!

We’re proud to support those with incontinence through education, community and advocacy.  We hope that this year you’ll include us in your giving plans so that we can continue our mission of helping everyone learn to live a Life Without Leaks!

The True Impact Of Incontinence

Sarah Jenkins

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A look at how incontinence Affects physical, mental and financial well-being.

Maria, a 52-year old mother of 3, first began experiencing bladder leaks in her mid-forties. It was an occasional problem, only occurring once or twice a month, and something she didn’t really think much about. “I just thought it was a part of growing older,” she said. However, as she began to edge closer to 50, the episodes began happening more frequently. “I’d be out walking the dog and have a sudden urge to use the restroom – and I found I couldn’t hold it in”, she said. As the leaks continued to increase, she began limiting her activities. “I tried to stay close to home just in case the urge came to go. When I’d go out, I located the nearest bathroom right away in case I needed to make a run for it.”  She didn’t reach out to her doctor, or even tell her family about her problem for a long time. “I was just so embarrassed. I’m a grown woman – I didn’t want people to know I peed my pants.” 

Maria’s not alone. One in 4 women over the age of 35 is affected by incontinence. (1) It can happen in men, but it occurs twice as much in women, due to things like pregnancy, childbirth and menopause.(2) Unfortunately, many of these people do not seek help for their condition– most people wait an average of 6 years before even talking with a doctor. (3) This is due, in large part, to embarrassment about having bladder leaks, and the misconception that incontinence is just a part of getting older.

But incontinence is not just a part of getting older. Yes, it’s common, but it shouldn’t be thought of as normal, especially considering the many available treatment options for patients. In fact, ignoring incontinence can be detrimental to your physical, mental and financial well being. Let’s take a look at how incontinence affects these three areas of life.

The Physical Impact Of Incontinence

While many people see incontinence as embarrassing, until you’ve experienced it yourself you may not realize the true physical impact that it can have on your life. Of course there’s the obvious problem of having to change clothes or bedding often, or running to the bathroom, but incontinence can impact your physical health in other ways too. Many people with regular incontinence suffer from skin infections, due to over-exposure to moisture. Incontinence dermatitis (also known as diaper rash) can occur frequently and bacterial or fungal infections can also develop easily when skin comes into contact with bacteria from waste products repeatedly.

Additionally, many people report reducing their physical activity when they have incontinence. For those who were once active, activities such as running or other high impact exercises are often avoided or stopped completely once the practice may lead to unexpected and involuntary leakage of urine.  In fact, over 20% of women have quit their physical activities due to urinary incontinence. (4) In a large Australian study, it was found that more than33.3% of women between the ages of 45 and 50 reported that they avoid athletic activities fearing an incontinence episode during exercise. This can be dangerous, as it can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle, which may contribute to other diseases, such as osteoporosis, hypertension, and coronary heart disease. (5)

Finally, incontinence presents a much greater risk for falls and fractures, especially in older adults. One study showed that weekly or more frequent urge incontinence independently increased the risk of falls by 26% and the risk of fractures by 34% in older adult women. (6) It is hypothesized that this occurs because older adults have a reduced capacity to divide their attention. Thus, an elderly person who is focused on needing to get to the restroom quickly may become unaware of the potential hazards that lie in their path to get to the bathroom, or may become inattentive to controlling their posture or body movements, which increases the risk of falling. Given that the CDC has reported that falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults, it is important to take measures to reduce anything that may contribute to them, including incontinence. (7)

The Mental Impact of Incontinence

While the physical impact of incontinence is substantial, the effect of incontinence on a person’s mental health can be truly devastating.  Many people with incontinence carry an emotional burden of shame and embarrassment in addition to the physical disruption on their lives. They learn to hide their problem from close friends and family, and even significant others for years. Most wait at least 6 years before even discussing the problem with a doctor. (3). They shy away from social activities for fear they will have an accident in public, and stop doing things they once took joy in. Slowly, their isolation and shame may lead to depression and anxiety. Even after accounting for other medical conditions and demographic differences, incontinence negatively impacts a person’s quality of life. (8-13). In fact, research has found an association between incontinence and declining mental health and an increased risk of the onset of psychological distress and depressive symptoms. (14) In one study, women with severe urinary incontinence had an 80% greater possibility of presenting deep depression while women with mild incontinence had a 40% greater possibility of presenting depression. (15) Another study showed when urinary incontinence is severe enough, the incidence of a stress disorder increased by 4 times. (16).  

And the impact doesn’t stop there – sexual functioning also takes a hit. One study reported that 43% of participants with urinary incontinence felt that their urinary disorder had adversely affected sexual relations. (17) Premenopausal women with urinary incontinence have reported lower scores of desire, stimulation, lubrication of the vagina, orgasm and satisfaction. (18) Add to that the anxiety that many women feel that they may have an incontinent episode during sex, and it’s easy to see why many women with incontinence may avoid the act all together.

Unfortunately, the mental impact of incontinence doesn’t just affect the patient.  The physical and psychological toll of those caring for an incontinent loved one is also significant. Many caregivers have reported problems with role change, sleeping, finances, intimacy and social isolation (19). It’s been shown that incontinence adds to the psychological and physical burden of caregivers and can be a risk factor for nursing home placement, hospitalization and death. (14) In fact, urinary incontinence has been reported to be one of the leading causes of nursing home admissions. (20) Given the extreme guilt that often accompanies this decision, it’s no surprise that incontinence negatively affects caregivers as well as patients.

The Financial Impact of Incontinence.

As if the cost to a person’s mental and physical health weren’t enough, the economic impact that incontinence has also weighs heavily on patients and caregivers. Incontinence presents a significant financial burden to the individual and to society. In the US, the cost of bladder incontinence among adults was estimated at $19.5 billion in 2000. (14) And on an individual level, women with severe urinary incontinence pay $900 annually for incontinence care. (21) The expenses include costs for things like absorbent products, medications, doctor visits, and dry cleaning or laundry.  Unfortunately, incontinence gets worse with time if left untreated and costs only go up as we age. Women over 65 tend to spend more than twice as much on incontinence (7.6 billion annually) than younger women (3.6 billion annually).  (22)

And it’s not just the direct costs that contribute to the financial stress of incontinence. Up to 23% of women take time off work due to incontinence. (23) The combination of lost work, plus the funds needed to actually treat the condition can really add up to a financial drain on the pocketbook.

What Can Be Done.

While incontinence may not be a life-threatening condition, it’s clear that the physical, mental and financial burdens that are placed on a person with the condition severely affect overall quality of life. But, the good news is that there is a wealth of treatment options available to patients, which can ease many of these burdens. However, in order to get the treatment that so many need, we must first start by thinking about this condition differently. Doctors need to have a forthcoming discussion with their patients about incontinence, and patients need to be willing to speak up about the condition with their doctors. And, as a community, we all need to be more open about incontinence to erase the stigma that has held so closely to it for so many years. If you live with this condition, or know someone who does, we urge you to speak up, educate yourself, and get treatment. Because living with a condition that so severely impacts you physically, mentally and financially is no way to live.

As for Maria, she finally took action against her problem. After seeking help from her doctor – a full 7 years after she started experiencing leaks – she was put on a plan that included medication and physical therapy to address her bladder leakage. “I feel like I have a new lease on life. I wasted so many years hiding and feeling ashamed for something that I now see was so easily treatable. I just wish I had sought help sooner.”

Explore the resource at NAFC.org to learn how you can fight incontinence and learn to Live A Life Without Leaks.

References:

1. Stavros Charalambous . The impact of Urinary Incontinence On Quality Of Life. Review Article, June, 2009.– Argyrios Trantafylidis, Department of Urology, Ippokratio General Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece

2. NIH Website: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/bladder-control-problems-women

3. National Association For Continence. (2002). National stress urinary incontinence survey. Unpublished study. Charleston, SC: Author.

4. Nygaard I, Delancey JO, Arnsdorf L. Exercise and incontinence. Obstet Gynecol. 1990;75:848-51.        

5. Brown WJ et al. Too wet to exercise? Leaking urine as a barrier to physical activity in women. J Sci Med Sport 2001; 4: 373-378

6. Brown JS, Vittinghoff E, Wyman JF, et al for the Study of Osteoporotic Fractures Research Group.Urinary incontinence: does it increase risk for falls and fractures?J Am Geriatr Soc2000 Jul;48:721–5PubMedWeb of Science

7. Center For Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov/features/older-adult-falls/index.html

8. EH, Coyne T, Hawes SK, Merikhi L, Naples SP, Kanagarajan N, et al. Fecal incontinence: Prevalence, severity, and quality of life data from an outpatient gastroenterology practice. Gastroenterol Res Pract 2012:947694. 2012.

9. Khatutsky G, Walsh EG, Brown DW. Urinary incontinence, functional status, and health-related quality of life among Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the program for all-inclusive care for the elderly and dual eligible demonstration special needs plans. J Ambul Care Manage 36(1):35–49. 2013.

10. Minassian VA, Devore E, Hagan K, Grodstein F. Severity of urinary incontinence and effect on quality of life in women by incontinence type. Obstet Gynecol 121(5):1083–90. 2013.

11. Kwong PW, Cumming RG, Chan L, Seibel MJ, Naganathan V, Creasey H, et al. Urinary incontinence and quality of life among older community dwelling Australian men: The CHAMP study. Age Ageing 39(3):349–54. 2010.

12. Bartlett L, Nowak M, Ho YH. Impact of fecal incontinence on quality of life. World J Gastroenterol 15(26):3276–82. 2009.

13. . Ko Y, Lin SJ, Salmon JW, Bron MS. The impact of urinary incontinence on quality of life of the elderly. Am J Manag Care 11(4 Suppl):S103–11. 2005.

14. Prevalence of Incontinence Among Older Americans. Vital & Health Statistics, Series 3, Number 36, US Department of Health And Human Services. June, 2014 : https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_03/sr03_036.pdf

15. Nygaard I et al. Urinary incontinence and depression in middle-aged United States women. Obstet Gynecol 2003; 101: 149-156

16. Bogner HR et al. Anxiety disorders and disability secondary to urinary incontinence among adults over age 50. Int J Psychiatry Med 2002; 32: 141-154.

17. Sutherst J, Brown M: Sexual dysfunction associated with urinary incontinence. Urol Int 35: 414, 1980

18. Aslan G et al. Sexual function in women with urinary incontinence. Int J Impot Res 2005; 17: 248-251.

19. Cassells, C., & Watt, E. (2003). The impact of incontinence on older spousal caregivers.

20.  Martin CM. Urinary incontinence in the elderly. Consult Pharm. 1997;8:12.

21. Leslee L. Subak, MD, Jeanette S. Brown, MD, Stephen R. Kraus, MD, Linda Brubaker, MD,MS, Feng Lin, MS, Holly E. Richter, PhD, MD, Catherine S. Bradley, MD, MSCE, Deborah Grady, MD, MPH, and Diagnostic Aspects of Incontinence Study (DAISy) Group  The “Costs” of Urinary Incontinence for Women . Obstet Gynecol 2006 Apr; 107(4): 908-916.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1557394/

22. Wilson L1, Brown JS, Shin GP, Luc KO, Subak LL. Annual direct cost of urinary incontinence. . Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Sep;98(3):398-406.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11530119

23. Amy J Sinclair, Ian N Ramsay. The psychosocial impact of urinary incontinence in women.  The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist 10.1576/toag.13.3.143.27665

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1576/toag.13.3.143.27665/asset/toag.13.3.143.27665.pdf?v=1&t=j9u35plf&s=6b8aa5696356bb14e1ade01caea5ec8049ad9441

Life After Leaving The Closet

Sarah Jenkins

Six months ago I announced that I was ‘coming out of the closet’ regarding my health issue with Pelvic Organ Prolapse. Today I’m back to share how that decision has improved my life.

After dealing with POP symptoms for what seemed like an eternity, I finally decided to seek answers to my questions concerning this health condition. It took a fair amount of courage to face the fact that I needed help. It wasn’t an easy decision by any means because I tried to tell myself it was just part of the aging process and I would just have to ‘deal with it’ the best I could.

I’m here to tell you, that isn’t the case. No woman needs to suffer in silence or hide their health issues in a closet. I totally understand how reluctant some women are to talk about or be treated for this health issue. I grew up in the era when women’s health issues weren’t openly discussed among peers, but were generally relegated to a dark closet. However, times have changed and although some may not know it, there is hope and help for those who suffer with this malady. New treatment options occur on a daily basis that allows women to control, improve and repair this cryptic health condition. It’s time to openly discuss women’s health issues.

Although I tried to keep up with a daily exercise program prior to surgery, it became difficult because of the pressure and pain I was experiencing. Because of this I gained an extra 15 pounds in a very short period of time. It was a very depressing time for me. But, after the brief recovery from surgery in January I was once again able to exercise and follow a simple diet that resulted in my losing 22 pounds by mid-March.

My life today is one-hundred percent better than it was prior to my surgery. I can go for walks, out to dinner, and shopping without having to worry about what might happen.  If you suffer from Pelvic Organ Prolapse I encourage you to not hide in a closet or allow it define how you live your life. Take charge of your health. After all, there is a better life after leaving the closet!

Betty Heath

Did you miss Betty's original article about her surgery? Read it here!


betty heath

About The Author:  Betty Heath lives in Colorado with her husband. She is “retired from work, but not from living”, and has a weekly column called “As I See It”, which appears each Sunday in the Longmont Times-Call, owned by the Denver Post. She enjoys writing, cooking, gardening, and quilting. Betty also volunteers in the St. Vrain Valley School District, helping students learn how to write from their heart. For the past six years, she and her husband have volunteered as Santa and Mrs. Claus for the Holiday Festival in the Carbon Valley. You can read more from Betty at her blog, The Rejoicing Soul.

Your Guide To Treating Incontinence

Sarah Jenkins

Guide To Treating Incontinence

We're in the final stretch of Bladder Health Month and from now until the end of November, we'll be focusing on treatment. Hopefully you've been following along with us all month as we've talked about acceptance, how to manage your symptoms prior to talking to a doctor, and when and how to seek help. Now it's time to explore all the different options you have to get your bladder leaks under control.  

Treatment for incontinence has come a long way in recent years. Here’s a breakdown of steps you can take right now, as well as some more advanced options to look at for the future.

1. Management. Managing your incontinence is much different than treating your incontinence, but it is the logical first step. After all, you need to find some way to stay dry until you can properly address the issue. For most people, management will consist of a few things – finding a good absorbent product that works, and watching your food and drink intake to see if there are certain triggers that may make your incontinence worse. And while both of these can do wonders in helping you control the symptoms of incontinence, they’re not really addressing the true problem.

2. Behavioral Therapy.  Along with diet and exercise, there are several other things you may want to try when treating incontinence. Bladder and bowel retraining – which literally involves training your muscles to hold urine or bowel movements for longer more controlled periods of time – are a good step to try and improvements can often be seen in several weeks.  In addition, many people see vast improvements from physical therapy. A qualified physical therapist (usually specialized in treating the pelvic floor) can give you an examination, pinpoint areas of weakness or tension, and provide a customized treatment plan designed to address your muscle strength or weakness. (Need help finding a PT? Check our Specialist Locator.)

3. Medications. If behavioral modifications don’t yield the results your looking for, medications may be your next option. Most medications for bladder control work by relaxing the bladder muscles and preventing the spasms that sometimes accompany overactive bladder and incontinence. These work differently for everyone, and can sometimes produce unwanted side effects though, so talk to your doctor about your options before settling on one.

4. Advanced Therapy Options.  If medications don’t work for you, or you don’t like the side effects that they present, there are still other options. InterStim and Botox injections are two of the more advanced, yet very effective procedures available.   InterStim, also known as sacral neuromodulation, works by stimulating the nerves that control your bladder, bowel and rectum, and the muscles related to urinary and anal functions (the sacral nerves). InterStim stimulates these nerves with a mild current, which helps your bladder/bowel/rectum work as they should.  Botox, treats overactive bladder symptoms by calming the nerves that trigger the overactive bladder muscle. Both procedures are fairly simple and take about an hour to complete.

5. Surgery. For some, surgery may be an option. There are several types of surgeries that address stress urinary incontinence.  These procedures are intended to help correct a weakened pelvic floor, where the bladder neck and urethra have dropped. The most popular procedure is to use a sling, which serves as a “hammock” to support the urethra. Surgical slings may be used in both men and women who experience stress incontinence, and also women who have experienced pelvic organ prolapse. There are many types of sling procedures so be sure to talk to your doctor about your options and research what is right for you.

The most important thing to remember when exploring incontinence treatment is that you have options. Talk to your doctor about your wishes and work together to find a treatment that works for you.

Just tuning in with us this month? Check out what we've been covering over the past few weeks!

Week 1:  Accepting That You Have Incontinence

Types of Incontinence – The Break Down

Take The NAFC 8-Week Challenge

Men: Let’s Talk About Bladder Leakage

Why Incontinence Is A Condition We Need To Worry About

Week 2: What You Can Do To Manage Bladder Leaks Before You See Your Doctor

Bladder Irritants And Your Diet

Finding An Absorbent Product That Works

Top 3 Things To Look For In An Absorbent Product

Three Things You Can Do Right Now to Fight Incontinence

Incorporating Pelvic Floor Exercises Into Your General Workout Routine

Week 3: When To Seek Help

A Guide To Talking To Your Doctor About Bladder Leakage

The Doctor Guide: A Breakdown Of Different Specialties And When You Should See Them

What Is A Urologist

Questions To Ask Your PT At Your First Appointment

 

Overactive Bladder Causes Significant Burden, Regardless of Age Amongst Adults

Sarah Jenkins

 
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New survey reveals impact, need for greater discussion about treatment options for condition affecting 33 million Americans this Bladder Health Awareness Month

DUBLIN AND CHARLESTON, SC, November 14, 2017 -- Allergan, Inc. (NYSE: AGN), in partnership with the National Association For Continence (NAFC), today announced the results of a new survey that revealed the impact of overactive bladder (OAB) and related symptoms on those living with the condition, as well as the extremes to which people will go to cope with or hide their symptoms. While commonly believed to be a result of weakened pelvic muscles following childbirth or just part of the aging process, the survey found that more than a quarter of the 100 respondents were diagnosed at the age of 34 or younger, and nine percent were diagnosed before 24 years of age.

“People can start experiencing symptoms of OAB at an early age, learning to settle for a lifetime of silently struggling with an uncomfortable condition,” says Steven Gregg, PhD, Executive Director of the NAFC. “Many who suffer live in constant fear of their next accident, and feel the need to plan activities around access to a bathroom to hide symptoms from friends, family or colleagues.”

Click the image above to download your own copy of the OAB survey info-graphic.

Click the image above to download your own copy of the OAB survey info-graphic.

The survey found that 86 percent of respondents experience OAB symptoms multiple times a day. Yet, despite reported frequency and impact of symptoms, 40 percent of the respondents have either discontinued treatment or never been treated for OAB. That may be due in large part to the fact that nearly half of all survey respondents would feel more comfortable discussing their OAB symptoms if his or her doctor brought it up first.

“November is Bladder Health Awareness Month, and we want to help people living with OAB realize that talking to their doctor is important in helping to get a diagnosis and learn about treatment options,” says Mitchell Brin, SVP of drug development, Allergan. “No single treatment is right for everyone. For people living with OAB who are cycling from one treatment to the next, there are several new treatment options that may not have been discussed.”

Other key findings from the survey of 100 people living with symptoms or who have been diagnosed with OAB include:

  • 66 percent say that OAB symptoms – the sudden urge to urinate, incontinence or leaking, frequent urination, and waking up at night to urinate – are a daily disruption.

  • Of the 86 percent who experience symptoms multiple times a day, 32 percent report symptoms 6-8 times per day and 12 percent experience symptoms at least every hour.

  • OAB also affects emotional health. Survey respondents report feeling moderately-to- extremely frustrated (85 percent), and embarrassed (81 percent) because of living with OAB.

    Seek an accurate diagnosis, and find out about treatment options that can be used to treat OAB. To learn more about OAB and the available treatment options, visit www.dontsettle.com.

    About the Survey

    The survey, titled “Living with Overactive Bladder,” was conducted by Allergan and the NAFC to gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by individuals who experience OAB and the impact it has on daily life and, ultimately, to raise awareness of the prevalence of the condition. The survey was open from September 26 – October 23, 2017. It included 100 respondents, recruited via the NAFC website (https://www.nafc.org/). All responses were anonymous.

 

Click here to download the official press release. 

When To Seek Help

Sarah Jenkins

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It’s the 3rd week of Bladder Health Awareness Month and this week is all about when and how to seek help.  Talking to someone about incontinence can be hard, (most people wait 6.5 years before seeing a doctor!) but it is often a necessary step in order to get the treatment you need. And remember that what you share with your doctor is likely something he or she has heard many times before. Incontinence is a very common (but not normal!) condition, and once you take the first step in opening up about it, it won’t seem as big of a deal as it may now.

So, how do you know it’s time to talk to someone? Hopefully, you’ve tried some of the tips we’ve discussed in the past (see our post last week for a Step By Step Guide on things you can try). Often, making small changes can make a big difference and can reduce or even eliminate symptoms. If, after taking these steps you’re still having problems, it’s probably time to seek professional help. This is nothing to be ashamed of – different treatments work for different people. And the steps you’ve taken so far will help your doctor in determining a solution that might work better for you. So take notes during your self-treatment process and note what does and doesn’t make a difference. Then take them to your doctor and start the discussion.

Opening up about incontinence may not be limited just to your doctor – your significant other, close friend or family may also be someone you’d like to share with. Don’t live with this condition in silence – many people who open up to loved ones learn that they are not alone – many people have this problem and it helps to be able to talk about it with others who understand. Not only that, having someone in your corner as you make the changes needed overcome and treat the condition can be invaluable. And, if you’re too nervous to talk to someone you know, there is always the NAFC Message Boards, which provide a safe place for you to share your concerns and thoughts with others like you.

So make that appointment, and follow along with us this week as we talk about how to talk with your doctor, and others, about incontinence!

Need an extra push to make a doctor's appointment? Sign up for our 8-Week Challenge

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Have you missed the past couple of weeks?  Here are some of the things we’ve been covering this month to help you live a #LifeWithoutLeaks!

Week 1:  Accepting That You Have Incontinence

Types of Incontinence – The Break Down

Take The NAFC 8-Week Challenge

Men: Let’s Talk About Bladder Leakage

Why Incontinence Is A Condition We Need To Worry About

Week 2: What You Can Do To Manage Bladder Leaks Before You See Your Doctor

Bladder Irritants And Your Diet

Finding An Absorbent Product That Works

Top 3 Things To Look For In An Absorbent Product

Three Things You Can Do Right Now to Fight Incontinence

Incorporating Pelvic Floor Exercises Into Your General Workout Routine

What To Do Before You See Your Doctor

Sarah Jenkins

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Whether you’ve just started experiencing bladder leaks, or have been dealing with them for a while, knowing how to manage the problem can be difficult.  And even if you’ve scheduled an appointment to see your doctor, there are things you can do before speaking with him or her to start treating the problem.

This week we’re focusing on management techniques that don’t require a visit to your doctor. NAFC has a great guide on the website that will walk you through the steps of management and things to try to control bladder leaks. Check out all the steps below:

Step 1: Finding products to help you stay clean and dry

Step 2: Assess Your Condition

Step 3: Measure Your Pelvic Floor Strength

Step 4: Pelvic Floor Exercises

Step 5: Develop A Voiding Strategy

Step 6: Get Professional Help

It is possible that by performing the steps above, you may be able to reduce or even eliminate your symptoms on your own. At the very least, it will give you some good information to share with your doctor and your initial efforts will help them to get you on a course to a successful treatment plan.

Stay with us this week as we provide more tips on how to manage bladder leaks! 

Access the full guide above here, or download our printed brochure with the above tips from our Resource Center!

 

Why Incontinence Is A Condition We Need To Worry About

Sarah Jenkins

Why Incontinence Is A Condition We Need To Worry About

Incontinence is a condition largely overlooked and under treated in the United States.  Although nearly 37 million people every year are affected by incontinence (which ranges from bladder to bowel leakage issues), unfortunately only a fraction of them ever seek help.  Issues like stigma and embarrassment keep many from reaching out.  Others seek help but may only try one or two treatment options before giving up. And there is another group of patients that talk to their doctor but, sadly, don’t end up getting the proper care due to either lack of physician knowledge of incontinence treatment options or, sadly, an unwillingness to refer to “their” urological specialist.

Yet, despite the unwillingness to talk about it, or treat it, incontinence is something that we should absolutely be worried about for the future.

It is estimated that as of 2050, nearly 60 million women will have at least one pelvic floor disorder. 41.3 million will experience urinary incontinence, and 9.2 million will have pelvic organ prolapse. Those are big numbers. Add men to the totals and they become staggering.

Of course, with increased prevalence come increased costs.  Estimates as recent as 2014 project the total economic national costs of patients over 25 that have overactive bladder along with urgency urinary incontinence to rise from $65.9 billion to nearly $82.6 billion by 2020.

Add all of this to the decreasing rates of urologists in America and we have a real problem on our hands.  A report from the American Urological Association predicts that by 2025, the number of urologists in the US will drop by nearly 30%.

Increased prevalence, increased cost, and a decrease in the help needed to treat the condition. This is what we are facing.

But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. We can make a difference now by making incontinence a more understood condition. By being brave and speaking up about it to our doctors and demanding treatment from them. By sharing our stories with close friends and relatives in efforts to reduce the stigma (“Yes, you are not the only one – I suffer from it too!”). This is how we fight. This is how we increase the options available to us. This is how we reduce the prevalence.

Don’t let inactivity determine your fate. There’s no better time than Bladder Health Awareness Month to speak up about your condition. Do it today.

Learning To Accept You Have Incontinence

Sarah Jenkins

woman eyes

We’re celebrating National Bladder Health Awareness Month by releasing a new blog series on the Lifecycle of Incontinence. This week, we’re focusing on acceptance.

Over 25 million Americans live with urinary incontinence, which is defined as the involuntary leakage of urine from the bladder. There are many treatment options available for this condition; yet, many people fail to get treatment for it.

We get it – this is a hard condition to come to terms with or to even take seriously. Many people wait years before even talking to their doctor about the condition, thinking it’s just something that happens with age, or that it’s not really that big of a deal. And, because incontinence is a condition that gradually gets worse with time, some people may not even realize the extent that it’s begun to control their lives. In the worst cases, incontinence sufferers find themselves retreating into their own lives – declining social invitations, missing work, avoiding family and friends – all for fear of having an accident and becoming embarrassed.  Incontinence is a big deal. It affects millions of Americans, some to a debilitating degree. Shame, embarrassment, and depression – these all go hand in hand with incontinence.

But we’re here to tell you, right now, that it doesn’t have to be like that. The first step to treatment is admitting that you have a problem . This is not just an old person’s disease. It’s not something you have to “just live with”, even if it is only a minor annoyance right now. It’s not something that your doctor will think is trivial, or that your spouse or significant other won’t understand or accept. It’s a common, but definitely not normal, condition that can happen to men or women, young or old, in all walks and stages of life. New Moms, athletes, teens, and yes, older adults may all be affected.  No one is immune to incontinence.


The good news in all of this is that you have options. There are ways to manage incontinence, and even eliminate the issue all together.  But first, you need to accept that it is an issue, and decide to do something about it.

Since this week is all about acceptance and recognizing that you may have incontinence, we’re giving you the tools to do just that. We’ll be sharing articles and tips all week about the different types of incontinence, how to know what type you may have, why incontinence is a concern on a national level, and challenging you to take your first step toward treatment.

We’re glad you’re here. Stay with us!

Types of Incontinence - The Break Down

Sarah Jenkins

Do you have incontinence?  While most people think of incontinence simply as the inability to hold urine, incontinence can actually take many forms.  Here, we break down the different types of incontinence for you.  Once you identify the type you have, you’ll be better suited to treat your condition:

Urge Incontinence.  Do you feel like you always have to go to the bathroom when you’re washing the dishes?  There’s a reason for that.  Also commonly referred to as Overactive Bladder, or OAB, Urge Incontinence is when you feel a strong need to use the restroom right now.  This can happen out of the blue, and may be triggered by - you guessed it - hearing running water, or even anticipating needing to use the restroom. 

Stress Incontinence.  Do you leak a little bit when you sneeze or laugh?  Does the thought of jumping on the trampoline with your kids give you pause?  If so, you may be suffering from stress incontinence.  Stress incontinence is the leakage of urine when extra ‘stress’ is placed on the bladder and is generally caused by weakened sphincter muscles.  Common causes are childbirth, general loss of muscle tone, nerve damage, and even chronic coughing, which places continued stress on the muscle. 

Mixed Incontinence.  Do both of the above scenarios sound familiar to you?  You’re not alone.  Mixed Incontinence is when you feel both the urgent need to go, and experience leakage due to physical exertion, and is very common. 

Urinary Retention.  Generally caused by an obstruction in the urinary tract, or nerve problems that interfere with signals between the brain and the bladder, urinary retention is when your bladder has trouble completely emptying.  Symptoms of urinary retention include difficulty starting a stream of urine, feeling a frequent need to go, and feeling the need to urinate again soon after finishing. 

Luckily, there are many treatment options available for each of the above types of incontinence.  Educate yourself more about your condition and what can be done, so that when you’re ready to see your doctor, you’ll have a greater understanding of your condition and the options available to you. 

 

Need help finding a physician?  Use the NAFC Specialist Locator!

Sign Up For The NAFC 8-Week Challenge

Sarah Jenkins

NAFC has always been a promoter of good health, which can benefit so many aspects of our lives.  We believe that even small improvements made over a series of time can make a huge difference.  This November, in honor of National Bladder Health Awareness Month, we challenge you to make a change for the better - there's no better time than now to commit to better bladder health!

Because Incontinence can often be a side effect of an underlying condition, it can potentially say a lot about your health so it’s important to not ignore it.  And even if it exists on it’s own, it deserves to be treated.

NAFC is challenging you to improve your bladder health.  Choose one of four 8-week challenges listed here and NAFC will send you tips and tricks along the way to help you succeed.  Join the hundreds of people who have already completed the challenge to improve their bladder health! 

So go ahead – take a step toward improving your bladder health by joining us, and others, in the NAFC 8-week challenge.  Completing any one of the challenges will get you that much closer to a life without leaks.

It's Bladder Health Awareness Month, 2017!

Sarah Jenkins

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Hello Readers!

Each year, NAFC, along with several other health organizations, celebrates Bladder Health Awareness Month by raising awareness of the many conditions that can affect the bladder and how to treat it. This is an important month for NAFC – while we touch many people each day, it’s estimated that over 25 million Americans live with incontinence. And many of those people wait years before even having a conversation with their doctor about treatment options. It’s a debilitating condition that can cause shame, embarrassment, isolation and depression for those it touches, and, unfortunately, it is widely (and incorrectly) thought to be a condition that people should just accept as they get older. This couldn’t be further from the truth and this month, it’s our chance to shine the spotlight on the condition and show people that living with incontinence is no way to live.

So, what can you expect this month from NAFC? A lot! Here’s a rundown of how we’re doing our part to stop the stigma:

Life Without Leaks Awareness Campaign.

NAFC launched the Life Without Leaks Campaign earlier in 2017 and it’s still going strong! Designed to show men and women of all ages that they don’t have to live with bladder leaks, this campaign sheds light on the effects of incontinence and shows people that by not treating their incontinence, they may be missing out on the best parts of their life. Life is possible without leaks. Check out the campaign here.

Blog Series: The Lifecycle of Incontinence.

This series will break down the stages of incontinence, from learning to accept you have the condition, to a description of the many treatment options available to you. Follow along on the BHealth Blog each week as we discuss the following topics:

·      Week 1: Learning To Accept You Have Incontinence

·      Week 2: What You Can Do To Manage Your Condition Before You See Your Doctor.

·      Week 3: How To Talk To Your Doctor About Incontinence

·      Week 4: Your Guide To Treatment Options.

BE STRONG Classes. 

Our BE STRONG classes are designed to show you the many benefits of maintaining a strong and healthy pelvic floor. All of our classes are taught by Pelvic Floor Specialists and are a great way for you to learn more about this vital group of muscles. Find one in your area!

How You Can Get Involved

Follow Us On Facebook and Twitter – and help us raise awareness! 

Not only will you be able to follow along with everything that’s happening this month, you can help us raise awareness by liking and sharing our posts. Better yet – post our Bladder Health Facts to your own pages! Be sure to tag us with the hashtags #LifeWithoutLeaks and #BHealth!

Make A Donation To NAFC. 

We love doing what we do. And we make a pretty big impact, reaching over 1,000,000 people each year who need our help.

But we can’t do it alone.

Support from our readers is the only way we’re able to continue offering the education and community we’ve created on nafc.org. 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. Donate today to help us ensure everyone has access to these free materials, and can learn how to live a #LifeWithoutLeaks.

Start A Fundraiser On Facebook! 

We know sometimes it’s hard to give. But if you’re passionate about our cause and want to help, consider setting up a fundraiser for us on Facebook. It’s super easy to do and all the funds come straight to NAFC. Read our step-by-step instructions on how to do it here.  With #GivingTuesday coming up on the 28th of this month, it’s a great time to get this going.

So there you have it!  We hope you’ll follow along with us this month to learn more about incontinence and help support us throughout the month to increase awareness of Bladder Health! 

Sincerely,

The National Association For Continence

Best practices For Preparedness (laying out clothes, prepping coffee/lunch, pick-up)

Sarah Jenkins

We believe that preparedness is the key to building a solid treatment plan for your incontinence. It’s also a great way to build stability in your life in general.

Read our top ten ways you can be better prepared to handle accidents, maintain your treatment plan, and stay accountable to your health goals.

1.     Lay out your outfit for the next day. Include shoes, accessories, briefcase or purse, and an extra set of absorbency products for your car or bag. Use the downtime at night to avoid the risk of forgetting something in the morning.

2.     Set out your breakfast and lunch so you can grab and go. There’s nothing worse that forgetting your breakfast or lunch and drinking coffee to sustain you. Not only will your stomach be growling, but you’ll likely irritate your bladder without the proper balance of food and hydration.

3.     Schedule your pelvic floor workout with your regular workout. By penciling in time to exercise, you’re keeping yourself accountable to the goals you set for your body. Your pelvic floor should be no different.

4.     Put a reminder in your calendar to review your bladder diary. Pick a time of the week or day where you’ll have no distractions and can focus on reviewing your notes. Maybe you stop at the library before you go home from work, or you leave early to get your morning coffee on the way to work and review it then.

5.     Check in with a friend or mentor once a month at the same time and place every month. Finding a person to glean guidance and support from can be key to living your life as fully as possible. Maybe this person is a friend who has dealt with incontinence before, or it is a mentor who helps you manage your life holistically? Make time with that accountability partner count by adhering to the schedule you agreed on.

6.     Review your day the night before. There are a lot of things that can be challenging with incontinence. Finding the restroom in a location is at the top of our list. Review your day the night before to avoid running in circles when you really need to go.

7.     Refill your prescriptions on time. For some, medicine is a crucial part to their incontinence treatment plan. Don’t ruin the progress you’ve made in your treatment by forgetting to renew your prescription. When the pharmacy calls or emails you to renew—do it right away to avoid a lapse in your intake.

8.     Take time to breathe. One of the best ways you can prepare yourself for the unexpected is stress management. And one of the best, cheapest, and most accessible ways to manage your stress is breathing. According to an article by NPR, deep breathing is not only relaxing, it's been scientifically proven to affect the heart, the brain, digestion, the immune system — and maybe even the expression of genes. Take time to breathe and focus on slowing your body down so you can be prepared and strong enough to face the chaos when it comes.

9.     Have a ‘worst-case’ solution. When everything fails and all of your steps to prepare yourself for the day or for treatment fall through, have a last resort trick up your sleeve. For some, this might be taking ten minutes to go on a walk and debrief, or a change of clothes in the car. For others, a worst-case solution is taking a lunch break or coffee break early away from their desk. Designate your worst-case solution and use it when necessary. You need a place to be redeemed from the unexpected pitfalls of treatment and day-to-day life.  

10.  Imagine your perfect day. There’s a benefit to letting your mind idealize your plan because it can give you something to look forward to. Take time to imagine your perfect treatment plan and your ideal day when you’re setting goals with your doctor. Think about that ideal situation when things get stressful and chaotic so you can bring your focus back to what you can control. 

Tech Tips For Helping A Senior From A Distance

Sarah Jenkins

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As we age, it’s normal to need a little help. Most seniors function just fine; it’s just that sometimes, support from loved ones can make a positive difference. That’s why you're ready to help your parents or senior friend.

Decades ago, you had to live near a senior in order to offer help. If you lived far away, there really wasn’t much you could do; however, technology has changed a lot since then.
These days, you can provide some form of assistance even if you live on the other side of the country. But before you can delve into tech like this, it helps to understand what kind of help seniors often need.

Problems Faced By Seniors

Lumen Learning has a free online course that describes the unique challenges faced by seniors. Some of these challenges include:

  • Financial problems brought on by less income and more healthcare expenses.
  • Ageism, or discrimination and prejudice based solely on the senior’s age.
  • Mistreatment or even abuse by people who should be providing care.
  • Loneliness and few opportunities to socialize.
  • Depression and similar mental health issues.

Of course, one of the biggest challenges seniors face is health. Thankfully, people are living longer than ever; the consequence of that is having more health problems. As Everyday Health explains, many seniors face the same medical conditions:

  • Arthritis
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Diabetes
  • Disability issues

Apps & Sites To Help You Support Seniors

So how can you help your senior loved one manage these challenges when you live far away? With all of the advancement in technology these days, there are tons of apps, sites, and individual pieces of technology that can help you offer assistance no matter where you live.

For example, video chat can help alleviate loneliness and strengthen bonds between a senior and their family or loved ones. Video games can provide the mental stimulation needed to help fight dementia and can be a source of socialization. There are even health trackers that share information in real time. The beauty of this technology is that all of this can be done when you don’t live nearby.

Also, technology like this isn’t reserved just for you. There’s plenty of helpful technology your senior loved one can put to use. Some must-have technology for seniors include:

  • Tablets, smartphones, and iPads for photos, music, video chat, reading, and games.
  • Hearing aids to help with the loss of hearing that often comes with age.
  • Wireless home monitoring systems in case of medical emergencies.
  • Assistive technology such as LED lighting or stove shut-off systems.
  • Smart home technology that gives seniors the freedom to live independently.

Home Services

There are plenty of other ways to help besides providing tangible technology options. Did you know there are a variety of services available online that you can set up from your phone or computer?

For example, if your senior has difficulty getting to the grocery store, Caring.com lists meal delivery services that can provide regular groceries or complete meals delivered directly to their home.

If your senior loved one needs some extra help around the house, there are plenty of online options for housekeeping, pet sitting and lawn, and handyman services.

These are only a few of the options available, but they go to show that it’s easy to connect your senior loved one with the right kind of assistance through the touch of a button.

It’s challenging to take care of a senior from afar, but technology truly is making things so much easier. Once you’re familiar with the typical problems seniors face, you can help by providing your senior with technology that can boost their independence, or by using online services to give them some peace of mind and assistance. By incorporating the benefits of technology into your long-distance caregiving, you can stay connected and involved. In some ways, it might feel like you were never gone.

Patient Perspective: Why I No Longer Mind Wearing Adult Diapers

Sarah Jenkins

Patient Perspective Fishing

I’m a 48-year old man, and I wear adult absorbent briefs. Every day, every night. The problem started when I was around 40. I had always had some nighttime bedwetting issues, but they were rare and something I managed for most of my life with waterproof bedding. But after I turned 40, I noticed I was having more and more frequent episodes at night. I tried wearing absorbent pads, but they still leaked, causing me to have to change my bed sheets almost 4 times a week. Then the problem started happening during the day – I just couldn’t hold it in long enough to make it to the bathroom. I saw three doctors, and none of them could find a specific diagnosis for me to explain why I was having this problem. I spent at least a year in denial – foregoing protection because I was embarrassed, but running to the bathroom more often than I wanted. I brought extra clothes with me to work and to social functions “just in case”, and soon, started to limit outings as much as I could because I couldn’t face the prospect of having an accident in front of my family and friends. I finally realized that if I wanted any semblance of a normal life, I needed to use protection. I did my research and tried out several types of absorbent products to find something that worked for me. (Turns out I use absorbent briefs for day and night, although my nighttime briefs are thicker for extra protection.)  It used to bother me that I had to wear “diapers” but now, I don’t think about it at all. I’d rather know I am protected vs. having an accident in public. If you struggle with bladder leakage, just bite the bullet and find a product that works for you. In the end, you’ll be so relieved to know that “you’re covered”, and most people won’t even know you are wearing extra protection.

Mike W., Pensacola, FL