Bowel and Bladder Retraining
Bowel and Bladder Retraining: What to Expect
Incontinence can be embarrassing and depressing for patients and a challenge for caregivers because it involves the loss of bowel or bladder control. Unfortunately, it’s a common side effect for many seniors who experience a stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than half of seniors 65 and over experience bladder or bowel incontinence of some kind.There are many factors to consider when looking for help with this sensitive issue. Here are some of the most common concerns and solutions.
Incontinence can result from injury or illness, physical or neurological disabilities and, in some cases, poor overall health and diet. Gastrointestinal conditions like diarrhea and constipation can be factors in bowel incontinence as well.
Weakened bladder or bowel muscles are chief causes of incontinence. In cases of functional incontinence, another disability or neurological condition may prevent the patient from promptly getting to the toilet.
Some of the most successful treatments for incontinence include behavioral therapies, rebuilding bladder and bowel muscles, and occupational therapy. There are several proven techniques for helping most patients regain control over bowel and bladder function.
Setting a schedule for elimination is an effective way to treat incontinence. Many experts recommend keeping a journal as the first step in developing a healthy elimination routine. A journal, which can be kept by the patient or caregiver, involves recording all trips to the bathroom and keeping track of diet and liquids. Patients and caregivers can then work with a therapist to set a schedule for elimination, helping patients avoid emergencies by going to the toilet even when they may not have an urge.
Bladder retraining is another important technique in addressing incontinence. Bladder retraining involves delaying urination with the goal of redeveloping bladder muscles. Patients gradually extend the time between urination to rebuild bladder capacity and control.