Urinary incontinence has many possible causes and it can afflict people of any age. However, many of these factors correspond with old age, which is why the elderly are more prone to bladder control problems. Some of the conditions that come with old age and contribute to urinary incontinence include weakened or overactive bladder muscles, weak pelvic floor muscles and nerve damage from diseases such as diabetes or Parkinson’s disease. Men may also suffer blockage of urine out of the bladder from an enlarged prostate as they age. To make matters worse, old age diseases like arthritis may make it difficult for the elderly to get to the bathroom in time.
Another medical condition that largely affects the elderly and exacerbates incontinence is Alzheimer’s disease. Patients sometimes either do not realise that they need to urinate, forget to go to the bathroom or are simply unable to find the toilet due to their impaired mental state.
Treatment for age-related incontinence
Bladder dysfunction in the elderly can often be improved through medication, medical devices, physiotherapy, surgery and lifestyle changes. It is possible to condition the body through exercise to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, scheduling urination, or drinking more water and less alcohol and caffeinated beverages. If the incontinence problem is beyond treatment, there is also the option of adult diapers and catheterisation.
Depending on the patient’s mobility, mental alertness and degree of muscular control, there are several methods of catheterisation available to them:
- External catheters, aka condom catheters or male catheters, consist of a sheath made out of PVC, latex or silicone, with an adhesive to attach it to the penis, with the standard tube coming out of the other end, connected to a drainage bag.
- Intermittent catheters are inserted through the urethra into the bladder to urinate whenever necessary.
- Indwelling urinary catheters are inserted into the bladder through the urethra, with an inflatable balloon end to keep the catheter in position at the bladder, while the outside end of the catheter leads to a drainage bag.
- Suprapubic catheters are surgically passed through the abdominal wall, directly into the bladder and they need to be replaced every six to eight weeks.
Risks of urinary tract infection from catheter use
While catheters are invaluable for managing the bladders of the elderly, there is an increased risk of infection to the urinary tract with long-term use. The catheter can sometimes introduce bacteria or fungi to the bladder over extended periods, allowing microbes to multiply and cause what is known as a Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI). Indwelling catheters are a major cause of CAUTI in hospital wards.
How UroShield can help lower risks of CAUTI
The risk of infection greatly diminishes the usefulness of indwelling and suprapubic catheters for bladder management. However, there is now a way for catheter users to lower the likelihood of infection and it’s called UroShield. UroShield is a compact external medical device that generates low-frequency, low-intensity ultrasound waves along the full length of the catheter, up into the balloon and down into the bag, both on the outside and inside surfaces of the catheter. The ultrasound gently vibrates the catheter to stop the bacteria from adhering to the catheter and forming the biofilm – preventing infections from developing.
Where biofilm is present, UroShield helps to break up the protective layer which normally protects the bacterial colony from antibiotics, giving it a better chance at curing the infection. The vibrations also prevent catheter encrustation and blockage, caused by crystalline deposits of mineral salts in the urine. UroShield also helps to reduce catheter-associated bladder spasms and pain and is effective for any kind of catheter, both urethral and suprapubic.
To find out more about how UroShield works and what it can do for you, get in touch with us at 020 8773 7844 or fill out our online form.
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