Aging affects your lifestyle in more ways than most want to admit. One of the unfortunate setbacks to getting older is dealing with urinary incontinence. If you struggle with the embarrassment or discomfort of incontinence, you’re likely looking for ways to help control the problem.
While there are some simple strategies you can try to manage urinary incontinence, unless you do them consistently you’ll find yourself continuing to deal with the issue. Changing your lifestyle and incorporating new habits is one of the better ways to ensure that you can improve bladder control.
Professional doctors stress that lifestyle modifications are more effective and far less invasive than turning to surgery and medications. Here are some lifestyle changes you can include to help manage incontinence as you age.
1. Training Your Bladder
Overactive bladders give the elderly a constant feeling of urgency to go to the bathroom. Frequent trips hinder your bladder and start to send a message to the brain that your bladder is full when it isn’t. So, the cycle continues and you still feel you have to urinate.
Training your bladder involves setting up a schedule of when to go and slowly increasing the time between each trip to the bathroom. In time your bladder will be more full and gives you more control.
Steps to follow when you work to train your bladder to include the following:
- Identify when you go first, so you can set up your new schedule.
- Use a journal and write down how much time between your bathroom visits, then you can work to extend the time in between gradually.
- Once you have set up your schedule, do your best to stick to it, and continue to increase the amount of time in between your bathroom breaks.
It takes time to train your bladder, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work or you encounter an accident. If it helps, purchase and wear disposable incontinence underwear and products for women so that you can stick to your new schedule. Perseverance is key to getting your bladder back on track.
2. Pay Attention To Fluids
Another lifestyle change that can help with urinary incontinence is how often and how much you drink. Just like if you change your bathroom schedule, keep a journal and write down when you drink and how much you drink throughout the day. It can help you determine how much fluid you’re getting.
If you notice you’re drinking frequently, try to space out and drink in smaller amounts throughout your day. If you’re drinking too little fluid, it can build up body waste in your urine.
You can tell how hydrated you are if your urine is very yellow, indicating that you need to drink more. If you tend to drink more caffeinated beverages or eat a lot of spicy foods, work to eliminate those and focus on taking in more water or cutting down on some of those spicy foods.
3. Exercise Your Pelvic Floor
Pelvic floor muscles (also known as Kegels) tend to weaken as you get older, which attributes to urinary incontinence. One way to combat this is by exercising those muscles. Yoga often works the pelvic floor, so if you can find time to incorporate it within your daily routine, this lifestyle change can do wonders for your incontinence issues.
There are kegel exercises that can specifically target ways to help support your bladder and work to stop the stream of urine. Contracting the muscles often give you more control and strengthens those muscles.
4. Weight Control
Carrying extra weight as you age can increase your incontinence levels because the excess weight puts more pressure on your bladder. It weakens and can even damage your pelvic floor muscles. If you’re obese, it’s a strong risk factor for incontinence.
While it doesn’t have to be a drastic loss, losing weight and incorporating a healthier lifestyle can improve the frequency of going to the bathroom due to urinary incontinence. Consider talking to your doctor about your nutrition and see if incorporating a meal plan with exercise a few days a week helps bring your weight down.
5. Check Your Medications
One last lifestyle change you may need to help manage urinary incontinence is with your current medications. Aging can contribute to the number of medicines you need to take monthly, even daily. Certain medications can affect your bladder control.
If you have concerns about your medications, talk to your doctor about incontinence issues and whether your current medications are a contributing factor. Sometimes, incontinence may be a side effect of a specific drug, and if you can change the prescription or use it less frequently, you can manage the incontinence problem.
Making Lifestyle Changes
It can be challenging to incorporate new habits, especially if you’re older. But if you’re dealing with urinary incontinence, it’s better to take steps now to change it. It’s always helpful to talk to your doctor about your incontinence and what strategies you can work on to help manage it.