Coping with Life Long Incontinence Care
Jessica Lubahn 6 min read
Sometimes there's just no cure for urinary incontinence and you’ll have to make a long term incontinence care plan and learn how to live with it. Whatever the cause of your incontinence, there are a few things you can do to make your day to day much easier.
You’ve probably already heard it all before. Maybe you’ve even taken medication or gone under the knife to fix your incontinence. But now it’s time to do the work that only you can do for yourself. A doctor can only show you the door, but you’ll have to walk through it yourself.
If you’re looking to help someone who suffers from incontinence, perhaps an elderly member of your family, some of these tips may help you, too.
Change Your Lifestyle Change Your Bladder Schedule
Some crucial lifestyle changes can have a big impact on your bladder schedule. Urinary Incontinence (UI) may never completely go away for some people, but imagine having to deal with it only once a year, once in five years.
You can greatly improve your quality of life with a few changes that don’t even cost a lot of money. But you’ll have to pay in effort and discipline. Nothing good comes without hard work. You may have to change your diet and activity levels.
Increasing your overall good health can lessen UI problems, if not completely get rid of the problem.
Lose Weight for Your Bladder
Excess weight does stress the bladder more than it should. If you’re overweight, shed a few pounds to give your bladder a break. In the US, obesity rates increase by 6% each year. As countries become more wealthy, the people who live there get more hefty.
Naturally, increased obesity also means increased urinary incontinence. According to the American Urological Association, obesity increases incontinence risk by 20-70%.
UI is just one of many health problems that pop up when the body is overburdened. Many studies show evidence that there is a strong connection between obesity and overweight and UI.
For every five point increase in BMI, there is a 60% to 100% increase for daily urinary incontinence. Severe UI is not just something that happens sometimes, but everyday. The severity of UI only increases within five to ten years, as the patient also gains more weight.
Men and women who store fat in the abdomen have the highest risk for UI. While this news is sobering, studies also show that losing weight has an immediate improvement on urinary tract health.
Stop Drinking Beverages
Don’t stop drinking altogether to the point of dehydration. Some people who are afraid to pee purposely drink less liquids, but this is a mistake. The body needs water to function normally and at optimum rate. If you’re trying to lose weight, drinking water is all the more important because it helps fill the stomach and calm the appetite.
What you can do is avoid certain beverages that have diuretic properties. Diuretics are chemicals that stimulate the urinary tract, and make you pee more often. Some common diuretics include coffee, tea, alcohol, and sodas.
If you’re really serious about your anti UI diet, you can also do without chocolates and salt. Chocolate can make you feel more thirsty. So does salty food. Salt can also make the body retain more water, and make you look bloated.
High protein foods need more water to digest, so your brain will trigger your thirst signals and make you drink more. If you don’t like that dehydrated feeling, avoid high protein foods.
Good Old Pelvic Floor Exercises
You probably know about this already, but it is worth repeating. With the internet, now more than ever, it is so easy to get into the right exercise without a physical therapist or a trainer. There are so many aids available to get you into the habit of regular exercise, it’s impossible to find an excuse to skip workout time.
Download a workout app, join a class, look for like minded people to motivate you to exercise regularly. Look for routines that target the abdominals or the “core”, as fitness gurus like to call the torso. Any exercise that strengthens this area and surrounding muscles will improve your pelvic floor.
Exercise is especially beneficial for those who suffer stress incontinence and muscle weakening or even muscle damage. You’ll be able to recover some strength, and get washboard abs at the same time. You might even improve your performance in the bedroom with your new moves.
It is not true that only Kegel exercises will help with incontinence. That’s not how muscles work. Muscles work in pairs and are connected to one another. They need to be developed with a full range of movement.
So any improvement of muscles within the core will help lift and support the pelvic floor muscles.
Train Your Bladder to be Obedient
Make your bladder your servant, don’t give in to UI. And you can do this with those often mentioned kegel exercises. The Kegel technique is available to both men and women. It is the movement you feel when you contract to stop the flow of urine as it passes.
Some people have weak muscles in this area, or they have very poor awareness of their muscles when they pass urine.
A bladder training course is around six weeks, and at the end of the course you should be fully aware of your muscle movements when you pass urine. Other than the traditional, tried and tested Kegels, there are also exercise aids and measuring tools to see if you’ve improved or not.
There are urge suppression techniques, beyond kegel that you can teach your body. Bladder training is both physical and behavioral conditioning. You can seek your own health care provider for a course or look for a program yourself on the internet.
Before surgery and medication, there is still so much you can do for yourself to cope with UI. Don’t expect UI to go away quickly, if it’s caused by weak or damaged muscles, or hormone problems. Some people just have UI running through their families and inherit the condition. Be compassionate towards yourself and the failings of your body.
Before things get better, you can also depend on pads, adult diapers, and waterproof underwear to tide you over. There is always a solution if you are willing to see it.