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Night Time Incontinence In the Elderly
Sometimes, elderly people have no problems with incontinence during the day, but suffer from nigh time incontinence, sometimes known as nocturia.
Nocturia is a problem for the elderly because it causes people to wake up several times a night to pass urine. It may not be a problem if the elderly person can make it to a toilet in time, but can be a problem if they can't. It can also result in sleepless nights and tiredness during the day.
However, in many elderly people, especially those over the age of fifty, it can be a problem because it causes urine leaks during the night that can result in damp sheets or night ware.
Night time incontinence can have a number of knock on effects:
1) Waking up several times a night can result in low quality sleep which leads to tiredness and irritability next day
2) It is embarrassing for the elderly person concerned
3) It can make intimate relationships difficult.
Unfortunately, many elderly people who suffer from nocturia are forced to switch to incontinence aids such as incontinence pads, or if the problem is severe, incontinence nappies.
These incontinence management devices may result in skin rashes and infections.
Management of nigh time incontinence
Fortunately, there are management strategies that can help elderly people who suffer from incontinence.
Keeping an incontinence diary
An incontinence diary is good way of identifying any behaviours that encourage night time incontinence.
For example, if you keep a diary for a week of all the times when you take in fluids or food, it can help you recognise any patterns that may encourage night time incontinence. Once any patterns are identifed, then steps can be taken to change the patterns.
The diary may also identify foods or fluids that result in extra urine output. For example, tea, coffee, and alcohol can result in the need to urinate more frequently. You may find that some foods also have the same effect.
Keeping a diary of food and fluid intake is another helpful strategy. Some people experience nigh time incontinence when they have had an alcoholic drink or a cup of coffee. Such pieces of information are invaluable when it comes to stopping night time incontinence.
Another factor that can sometimes encourage night time incontinence is medications or actual medical conditions and diseases. If you think this is the case, you should consult your doctor who may change your medication or suggest treatment for any medical conditions that may be causing night time incontinence.
In extreme cases, your doctor may prescribe anti-diuretic drugs which reduce the amount of urine produced by the body. This will reduce the number of times the elderly person needs to get up in the night and hopefully encourage a more restful sleep.
Strategies to help stop night time incontinence
1) Try to cut down on your fluid intake during the day - especially fluids such as tea, coffee and alcohol which can act as diuretics.
2) Avoid drinking anything 2 to 3 hours before you go to bed
3) Before you get into bed, try visiting the toilet twice to make sure your bladder is completely empty before your go to sleep
4) Try to avoid any food or drinks that you have noted in your incontinence diary which seem to encourage night time incontinence.
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