Managing Urinary Incontinence – Strategies


What can I do about urinary incontinence right now?

Have the conversation

When discussing bladder health with the person in your care, it is important to maintain respect and dignity. Here are a few ways you can word a conversation with the person you provide care for about urinary incontinence.

  • “Some people experience urine or wetness when they cough or sneeze. Does your bladder cause you any concern or embarrassment?”
  • “Is it sometimes difficult for you to get to the bathroom in time? How often is this happening?”
  • “Do you feel you have to rush to the toilet?”

Make Small Changes

  • Encourage the person to drink six to eight glasses of fluid per day (e.g. water).
  • Refer to a Urine Colour Chart for a simple way to see if the person in your care is drinking enough. Staying hydrated is often the best remedy for constipation.
  • Avoid the foods/fluids that irritate the bladder (e.g. caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks).
  • Ask the older adult if they would switch to decaffeinated beverages.
  • If the person agrees, have them wear clothing that makes it easier to support them in the bathroom (e.g. pants with an elastic waistband).


  • Encourage a trip to the bathroom every three to four hours to empty the bladder; and also right before bed. If possible, consider making it a routine to reduce the amount a person drinks after supper.

Challenging the Myths about Bladder Health

MYTH Being incontinent of urine is part of the natural process of aging.

Although it is a common misbelief, urinary incontinence should not be considered part of the natural process of aging. Urinary incontinence is often the sign of an underlying health issue.

 MYTH There is no treatment for urinary incontinence.

There are many possible treatment options for urinary incontinence. It is important to understand the different types and their causes in order to begin to talk about treatment.

MYTH The best way to avoid urinary incontinence is to drink less fluids.

Drinking less does not cause a person to become less incontinent of urine. Drinking less can lead to serious health problems like dehydration, constipation, urinary tract infections, urinary frequency, confused thinking (delirium), and low blood pressure and dizziness when moving from a low to high position like sitting to standing (postural hypotension).

Activity 4.3 Test Yourself

Match the type of urinary incontinence to the correct description.

Managing Urinary Incontinence on an Ongoing Basis

Here are some suggestions to help you manage issues related to incontinence on an ongoing basis.

Keep trackEncourage the person you care for to keep track of their urinary symptoms over several days in a bladder diary.
Support emotional healthBe mindful of the words you use to describe products (e.g. instead of using the term “diaper”, try using a term like “product” or “brief” or any other word on which you and the person in your care agree).Support emotional health of the person you care for by adding layers of protection to their bed/chair. By protecting the furniture, you can maintain dignity, ease a person’s anxiety and ease embarrassment. Read more on this by visiting Daily Caring for ideas on how to protect the furniture. Specifically, see Incontinence Pads for Beds
Encourage IndependenceEncourage the person you care for to stay as active as possible and to have appropriate equipment in the bathroom that allows them to be as independent as possible.
Speak to a health care professionalHealth care professionals can help identify causes of urinary incontinence and create a care plan with you and/or refer you to a specialist in your area. They can also prescribe different treatments for certain types/causes of incontinence.

 Activity 4.4 – Try a Tool

Complete the Bladder Diary with the person in your care. Try to complete this tool over several days in a row to get enough background information. This tool can be very helpful when communicating with a health care professional.

Urinary Incontinence and the Relationship

You may find that urinary incontinence can create stress on the caregiving relationship. Although this experience is different for each caregiver, the following are three key ways to manage the stress that caregivers can feel due to urinary incontinence.

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