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What are the common urinary problems seen in senior citizens?

Elderly men may have difficulty passing urine, slowing of the urine stream and frequently getting up in the night to pass urine, poor stream, intermittent flow or straining when passing urine.

Elderly women may experience increased frequency and urgency of Passing urine, Urinary leakage while going to the toilet, need to get up at night to pass urine.

Other symptoms: Urge to pass the urine again just after you have emptied your bladder and dribbling of urine after you have been to the toilet

What causes Urinary Problems in the elderly?

Men usually have prostate enlargement and women may have overactive bladder. As men and women get older, the bladder may be less able to store the urine and it is difficult to control the urine.This causes you to pass urine more frequently and even leads to incontinence. In some elderly, it becomes harder for the body to reduce the amount of urine. This may cause you to get up more often at night to pass urine.

Elderly with diabetes, recurrent urinary infections, kidney or bladder stones, and certain neurological problems are more prone to urinary problems.

What is urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence means a person leaks urine by accident and is more common in older women. Bladder control issues can be embarrassing and cause people to avoid their normal activities. But incontinence can be controlled in many cases.

What are the causes of urinary incontinence in elderly?

Incontinence can happen for many reasons, including urinary infections,  weak bladder or pelvic floor muscles, overactive bladder muscles, diabetes, parkinson’s disease, joint disease that may make it difficult to get to the bathroom in time. Common cause of incontinence in older women is pelvic organ prolapse and men may have prostate gland enlargement.

Incontinence in Alzheimer’s Disease needs a special mention as in later stages they don’t realise that they need to urinate and incontinence happens.

How can elderly prevent urinary problems?

Lifestyle modification: Losing weight, quitting smoking, saying “no” to alcohol, drinking water instead of other drinks, and limiting fluids before bedtime can help with some bladder problems. Preventing constipation and avoiding lifting heavy objects.

Pelvic floor exercises are very helpful. Keep hallways clear and the bathroom clutter-free, with a light on at all times.

When to contact a healthcare provider?

There are certain medicines which can be effective to improve symptoms of prostate enlargement and overactive bladder. Contact your doctor if you have recurrent urinary infections, trouble urinating and also talk to your doctor about the medicines you are taking for other problems as some medicines also cause urinary problems.

If you are unable to empty all the urine from your bladder, do consult your doctor.

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