Incontinence is a common issue in nursing homes. In this article, we’ll define the term “incontinence” and explain how it relates to nursing home abuse.

Key Takeaways

  • Incontinence is the inability to control excretion
  • There are two types of incontinence: urinary and fecal
  • There are five types of urinary incontinence: stress, urge, mixed, overflow, and functional incontinence
  • Causes of urinary incontinence include urinary tract infection, pregnancy, smoking, and more
  • Treatments for urinary incontinence include surgery, Kegel exercises, biofeedback, and more
  • Causes of fecal incontinence include medications, hemorrhoids, diarrhea, and more
  • Treatments for fecal incontinence include bowel training, diet changes, surgery, and more
  • Nursing homes have a duty of care to keep incontinent patients clean, dry, and healthy

What Is Incontinence?

Incontinence is the inability to control excretion. 

Types of Incontinence

There are two types of incontinence: urinary and fecal. Urinary incontinence is when a person leaks urine by accident. Fecal incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements.

Urinary Incontinence 

Urinary incontinence is a relatively common condition occurring in which there are issues with the muscles or nerves of the bladder that help to hold or release urine. People with incontinence may leak urine when they cough or sneeze, or have sudden urges and be unable to get to the bathroom in time.

Types of Urinary Incontinence

There are five types of urinary incontinence.

  • Stress incontinence - This causes people to leak urine when they put pressure on their bladder by sneezing, coughing, laughing, lifting heavy objects, or exercising.
  • Urge incontinence - Also known as overactive bladder (OAB), urge incontinence is when people leak urine after feeling a sudden, strong urge to go. 
  • Mixed incontinence - More common in women, this is when a person has both stress and urge incontinence at the same time.
  • Overflow incontinence - More common in men, this is when a person cannot empty their bladder completely, so they leak urine once their bladder is full.
  • Functional incontinence - This happens when a medical condition, like arthritis, keeps a person from getting to the bathroom in time.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence

There are many possible causes of the different types of urinary incontinence, including:

  • Menopause
  • Medications
  • Hysterectomy
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Being overweight
  • Anxiety
  • Medical conditions that damage the nerves or muscles
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Smoking
  • Prostate problems

Treatment for Urinary Incontinence

Treatments for urinary incontinence include:

  • Bladder training
  • Surgery
  • Kegel exercises
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Biofeedback
  • Botox injections
  • Medication

Fecal Incontinence 

Also called bowel incontinence, fecal incontinence is when a person cannot control their bowel movements, so they leak solid or liquid stool. Nearly 18 million American adults have bowel incontinence. It is more common in older people.

Causes of Fecal Incontinence

The different causes of fecal incontinence are:

  • Medications
  • Hemorrhoid surgery
  • Cancer surgery
  • Muscle damage or weakness
  • Childbirth
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Being physically inactive
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Intestinal disorders like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Nerve damage

Treatment for Fecal Incontinence

Treatment options for fecal incontinence include:

  • Biofeedback
  • Anal electrical stimulation
  • Medication
  • Bowel training
  • Surgery
  • Diet changes
  • Kegel exercises

Incontinence and Nursing Home Abuse

Because incontinence is more common in older adults, it is prevalent in nursing homes. In fact, over half of nursing home patients suffer from urinary or bowel incontinence. Nursing home staff must help patients with toilet and hygiene care, including preparing a toileting schedule, diagnosing and treating incontinence, and cleaning up accidents when they happen. 

Nursing homes and their staff have a duty of care to their residents to ensure patients with incontinence are properly cared for and kept clean, dry, and healthy. A failure to meet this duty is negligent and a sign of potential nursing home abuse.

If you or a loved one have been a victim of nursing home abuse, it is important to report it to the proper authorities immediately. It is also recommended that you reach out to a nursing home abuse attorney to learn about the possibility of receiving compensation for your pain and suffering.

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