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Part 1: About Incontinence, Ageing and Dementia

Guidelines on continence care for people with dementia living at home

Incontinence is quite common in people with advanced dementia who have serious cognitive impairment. A few studies have found that incontinence plays an important role in decisions to place a person with dementia in residential or nursing care. Often this is because carers cannot or do not feel that they can manage continence problems. In some cases, this is linked to inadequate or inappropriate continence support.

However, incontinence is not a natural consequence of dementia in the sense that continence problems in the early and mild stages of dementia are often linked to environmental factors (e.g. mobility and orientation) and toileting skills rather than dementiaper se. Such problems can often be managed successfully. Indeed,  with the right level of support, carers can help and facilitate people with dementia to retain continence and independence for as long as possible. For this reason, we often talk about “continence problems” (which may or may not result in incontinence) rather than actual “incontinence” (the involuntary loss of urine or faeces).

Neither incontinence nor dementia is inevitable as we age even though both are more common amongst older people. As we age, we experience changes in our brains, muscles and bladders, as well as difficulties with mobility, and having dementia may further complicate matters.



Last Updated: Friday 20 February 2015