Dementia and bowel urinary incontinence - How to manage?

July 4, 2024 - Reading time: 9 minutes

One of the most common symptoms of dementia is bowel and urinary incontinence, which can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life. Recognising and understanding the progression of incontinence in individuals with dementia is crucial for caregivers and healthcare professionals alike. In this Dementia Care Support Guide, we will delve into the various factors that contribute to incontinence in dementia patients. From the underlying causes to the different types of incontinence, we will shed light on the intricacies of this condition. 

We will also explore the progressive nature of dementia and its correlation with incontinence, providing invaluable insights for caregivers and healthcare workers. By understanding the progression of incontinence in dementia, caregivers can make informed decisions regarding their loved one's care and implement appropriate strategies to manage this challenging symptom. 

Additionally, healthcare professionals will gain valuable knowledge that can aid in the diagnosis, treatment, and support of individuals with dementia and incontinence. Join us as we uncover the mysteries surrounding incontinence and dementia, providing you with a comprehensive guide to recognising its progression and offering practical advice for improved patient care.

Caring for someone with dementia who is incontinent can be challenging, but it's essential to maintain their dignity and hygiene. Here are some tips:


Establish a routine:
Set regular bathroom breaks to help reduce accidents.

Use incontinence products:
Invest in adult diapers or pull-ups, high-absorbency pads, or specialised clothing to manage accidents.

Promote proper hydration:
Ensure they drink enough fluids, but limit caffeine and alcohol, which can increase incontinence.

Create a safe environment:
Remove obstacles and install handrails to prevent falls on the way to the bathroom.

Maintain good hygiene:

Help with regular bathing and use gentle, pH-balanced wipes for cleaning.

Monitor diet:
Avoid foods that can exacerbate incontinence, such as spicy or acidic foods.

Communicate clearly and calmly:
Be patient and empathetic when dealing with accidents.

Seek medical advice:
Consult a healthcare professional for underlying causes and potential treatments.

Engage in activities:
Keep their mind and body active to reduce symptoms.

Get support:
Join a caregiver support group and consider respite care to prevent burnout.

Remember, every person with dementia is unique, so adapt your care to their specific needs and preferences.

Incontinence and dementia stages:

As we explore the intersection of incontinence and dementia stages, it's clear that comprehending the relationship between these two factors is essential. People with dementia face numerous obstacles, and incontinence is among the challenges that may arise at various stages of the disease.

Dementia, a progressive neurological disorder, gradually impairs cognitive abilities, memory, and behaviour. As the disease progresses, individuals may experience difficulties controlling their bladder or bowel movements, leading to incontinence. This can be a distressing and embarrassing symptom for both the person with dementia and their caregivers.

In the early stages of dementia, individuals may still possess some awareness and control over their bodily functions. However, as the disease advances, the ability to recognise the need to use the restroom or to reach the bathroom physically may diminish. This can result in accidents and involuntary leakage, causing frustration and confusion for those affected.

Moreover, as dementia reaches its middle and later stages, the decline in cognitive function becomes more pronounced. At this point, individuals may struggle to communicate their needs effectively, further complicating the issue of incontinence. Caregivers and loved ones must remain vigilant and attentive to signs such as restlessness, fidgeting, or sudden changes in behaviour, which may indicate the need for assistance with toileting.

It is important to note that incontinence is not an inevitable consequence of dementia. However, the prevalence of this symptom increases as the disease progresses. Understanding the specific stage of dementia an individual is in can help tailor appropriate strategies and interventions to manage incontinence effectively.


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