Nearly 20% of Older Women Report Experiencing Incontinence
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Incontinence is a common condition among older adults. Its incidence increases as people age, and it can often trigger the decision to move a person into a long-term care facility, say researchers who examined how often adults over the age of 50 experienced urinary, fecal, or dual (urinary and fecal) incontinence. The researchers published their findings in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society in May.
In the study, a team of geriatricians and other researchers from leading institutions examined surveys taken from 3,604 men and 3,497 women over the age of 50. The surveys, known as the National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys (NHANES), include data from 2005 to 2010.
Researchers questioned the participants about episodes of incontinence; the participants were also given standard physical examinations. Participants answered questions about the frequency of incontinence episodes and the amount of incontinence. Participants also answered questions about their health and whether or not they had other chronic health problems.
Here’s what the researchers learned:
- Nearly 20% of women versus 6% of men reported having urinary incontinence.
- 6% of women versus nearly 2% of men reported having dual incontinence.
- 26.7% of women versus 13% of men over the age of 80 reported having urinary incontinence.
- 10.5% of women versus 3.3% of men over the age of 80 reported having dual incontinence.
What’s more, nearly 40% of the women reported experiencing stress incontinence—a term for urine leaks that occur during physical exertion or when you laugh, sneeze or cough—compared to just 3% of men surveyed.
“Relatively high rates of urinary, fecal and dual incontinence exist among older men and women, and because of this, it’s important to make sure we screen older people for the condition,” said lead author Dr. Jennifer M. Wu, Associate Professor, UNC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery.
The researchers also learned that older women with depression were five times more likely to report having dual incontinence than women without depression.
Depression is the strongest treatable factor in dual incontinence, say the researchers. “Clinicians should be alert to the link between dual incontinence and depression,” said Dr. Wu. “This association highlights the importance of screening older people who have dual incontinence for depression, as well as screening older people who have depression for incontinence.”
The researchers suggested that healthcare providers should be aware that treating depression could potentially lower rates of dual incontinence. Behavioral interventions, including improved toileting assistance, also could help with managing condition.
This summary is from “Urinary, Fecal, and Dual Incontinence in Older U.S. Adults.” It appears online ahead of print in the May 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. The study was authored by Dr. Jennifer M. Wu, Dr. Catherine A. Matthews, Dr. Camille P. Vaughan, and Dr. Alayne D. Markland.