Study: Incontinence Common Among Older Adults

ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – According to a new study, incontinence is common among older adults.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from a survey of over 2,600 adults aged 65 and over between 2007 and 2010.   More than half of those who participated reported having experienced urine leakage or accidental bowel leakage. In a similar study, about 40 percent of people living in residential care facilities across the United States in 2010 reported experiencing incontinence.

A 2009 survey found that almost 76 percent of long-term residents in nursing homes said they were not in complete control of their bladder function or bowel movements.

“Bladder and bowel incontinence are conditions affecting older persons that can have serious implication for quality of life, caregiving, and science delivery,” the researchers wrote in their report.

The researchers added that little attention has been given to finding the physical and emotional impacts of incontinence.

“Individuals who are incontinent may carry an emotional burden of shame and embarrassment in addition to the physical discomfort and disruption of their lives that occur with episodes of incontinence,” the researchers said.

Incontinence can also cause a financial burden. The cost of bladder incontinence among adults in 2000 was estimated at $19.5 billion. The majority of the cost is for resources used for managing incontinence like absorbent pads and laundry.

Bladder incontinence may be caused by urinary tract infections, diabetes, cancer, stroke, and cognitive and mobility impairment.

Bowel incontinence may be caused by chronic diarrhea, inadequate fiber and water intake, chronic constipation, diabetes, stroke, neurologic and psychiatric conditions, and cognitive and mobility impairment.

It is also possible that younger people can get incontinence. Incontinence in younger people can be caused by urinary tract infections, damage to the nerves or muscles due to surgery, cancer, radiation treatments, or childbirth.

The report was released on June 25.

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