Urinary Incontinence

Basic Facts

What is urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence (UI) occurs when you have trouble controlling your bladder and leak urine. You may have to urinate so suddenly and forcefully that you’re unable to make it to the toilet on time. Or you may leak urine when you cough or sneeze, or “dribble” urine. In some instances, you may have no warning or sensation of the leakage.

Urinary incontinence (UI) becomes more common as people grow older, but it is not a normal part of aging. It is NOT something older adults should think they just have to “put up with.” Untreated urinary incontinence can decrease the quality of your life and also lead to other complications like infections and falls.  Treatment for UI can improve your quality of life, and it may not require drugs or procedures or surgery. If you have urinary incontinence, don’t feel embarrassed about talking with your healthcare provider about it.

If you are caring for someone with UI, this health problem can make your work more difficult. In fact, family caregivers may be more likely to consider placing a relative with untreated UI into an assisted living facility or nursing home. Don’t be embarrassed to talk with the person’s healthcare provider about it. Getting treatment for UI can often improve the situation significantly.

Last Updated November 2020