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Assessment of continence problems

Part 2: Continence care at home

Ensuring a proper assessment

If a doctor feels that a person is experiencing continence problems or has symptoms which might indicate such problems, s/he should carry out a continence assessment. The knowledge that a person has dementia, is advanced in age or lives alone should not affect this decision or the right to consult a specialist and have relevant examinations. On the other hand, it is important that the doctor or specialist is aware that a person who is experiencing continence problems also has dementia.

During the assessment for continence problems, the doctor or specialist is likely to ask a lot of questions and in some cases may carry out a physical examination and request blood, urine or stool samples. For this reason, it may be beneficial for you to have a friend or relative help you prepare for the consultation and be present if appropriate.

Action box 4: Preparing for the assessment

Be prepared to provide information about the following:

  • Whether you: need to get up at night to pass urine, have difficulties retaining urine or faeces, experience recurrent urinary tract infection or have problems with bowel elimination,
  • The duration, quantity and frequency of incontinence,
  • Your toileting routine,
  • How easy you find it to get around,
  • Your ability to manage toileting and to maintain continence,
  • The type and degree of any assistance you need to remain continent,
  • Whether such assistance is available,
  • Cognitive difficulties (e.g. with memory, recognising objects and planning),
  • Environmental factors (i.e. toilet visibility, distance, lighting and privacy),
  • How you feel about having continence problems and/or being assisted,
  • Any medication you are taking. Many drugs cause continence problems,
  • Other medical conditions you may have which might impact on continence such as heart problems, diabetes, cough, Parkinson’s disease and stroke,
  • Fluid and food intake. You may be asked later to fill in a bladder diary,
  • Current use and type of continence products (e.g. pads, commodes, etc.).

You may be asked to have additional tests. These are not generally painful but may cause some degree of anxiety and stress. Some people find them slightly embarrassing. Some find them somewhat distressing, particularly if they don’t understand why they are being done. It is important that you are fully informed about what is involved and what to expect. Don’t hesitate to discuss any concerns you have with your doctor.



Last Updated: Friday 20 February 2015