Urinary Incontinence Causes Depression in the Elderly

Depression and social isolation are not new topics when discussing issues of the elderly. What may surprise you is the impact urinary incontinence has on the risk of depression in the senior population. Research has shown that individuals with urinary incontinence are more likely to experience depression than those without bladder control problems. In fact, 15% of those with bladder problems report depression. Loss of bladder control can potentially lead to a life of social isolation for seniors. Social isolation has many negative effects associated with it that can result in both mental and physical deterioration, and loss of quality of life.

Though urinary incontinence is not a disease, our dignity as adults is closely tied to our ability to control our bladder. The symptoms associated with loss of bladder control can be bothersome, embarrassing, and undermine our self-confidence and freedom to enjoy life to its fullest. Treating seniors who suffer from urinary incontinence will remove one factor that can significantly increase their risk of depression.

Imagine you are a generally healthy senior living alone with the capability of getting out and moving around in the community. Yet each time your family invites you out to dinner or to come to the grandchildren's activities, your answer is "no" followed by some excuse. You are open to the family coming to your house but the grandchildren are becoming so busy that those visits are few and far between. Your friends are inviting you out less often. The thought of trying to sit through a movie or social event gives you anxiety. Your sex life has suffered. The only things holding you back are the fear that there may not be a restroom available and the possible embarrassment from having an accident. There are solutions that can help incontinence and help you stay socially active.

Coping techniques to consider: Giving in to fear is only going to land you in the downward spiral of depression. Wear a padded undergarment for protection while you are out and stay socially involved. Pack a small bag of change of clothes. Ask for help from your doctor or a close friend you trust. Keeping this a secret is not good for your mental or physical health, especially when there is help waiting for you. You may be surprised to find out how many people you know are dealing with incontinence, considering 1 in 5 people suffer from it. You will open yourself to enjoying a longer, happier life by finding solutions to your bladder problems.

Treatment to alleviate symptoms: Physical therapists are the specialists in the medical community who deal with musculoskeletal issues. Weakness of the pelvic core muscles is the primary reason for loss of bladder control and is reversible with lifestyle modifications and appropriate exercise. What will you gain from strengthening your pelvic floor muscles? You will alleviate or eliminate symptoms of bladder leaking and have more confidence in social situations. You will improve your balance, which can decrease your risk of falls. You will strengthen the muscles that support your low back. By regaining control of your body you are regaining the freedom you deserve in your life. Drugs and surgery should be considered as the last resort for treating urinary incontinence, after conservative treatments have failed (unless recommended by your doctor). The first-line approach to conservative treatment can be self-help, which has been shown to be highly effective. For one-on-one therapy ask your doctor for a referral to a physical therapist specializing in pelvic rehabilitation and treating incontinence. Seek counseling with a mental health professional for dealing with depression and health related issues.

Karen Sebastian is a physical therapist of fourteen years and creator of The Bladder Cure DVD, a self-help program for incontinence. Karen is also a Certified Pilates Instructor and yoga practitioner of fifteen years. Take action today! For more resources, tips and advice on incontinence and overactive bladder, visit http://www.TheBladderCure.com

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