By some accounts, more than 66% of nursing home patients are currently being treated for a complete or partial loss of bladder control. Unknown to many, patients with a loss of bladder control suffer serious physical and psychological consequences. Emotionally, patients may withdraw due to embarrassment of having an accident in public.
Physically, nursing home patients suffering form incontinence tend to suffer higher rates of medical complications than their peers due to the fact that they may suffer from more rapid de-conditioning, dehydration (because they are scared to increase their fluid intake), higher rates of falls (rushing to get to the toilet) and perhaps most problematic– an increase in the rate in development of bed sores.
Bed sores, also referred to as: pressure sores, pressure ulcers or decubitus ulcers, are wounds that develop when a nursing home or hospital patient remains in one position for an extended period of time. Patients suffering from bowel or bladder incontinence are at a heightened risk for developing bed sores due to the caustic nature of feces and urine. When the urine and feces remains in contact with the skin, the skin breaks-down faster than under ‘normal’ conditions.
I was happy to read about a new approach to treat urinary incontinence currently being implemented at Golden Living at Phoenixvile, a Pennsylvania nursing home. The nursing facility utilizes a team-approach to analyze and implement an treatment plan for each patient according to their physical and cognitive abilities.
Typical urinary incontinence treatment plans include:
- Strengthening exercises for the pelvic region, hips and abdomen
- Behavior modification programs to help patients relax
- Modifying medication dosages and types
- Simple, practical methods such as: scheduling bathroom trips, modifying clothing to make removal easier and changes in eating routines
The urinary incontinence program appears to be working. “Loss of bladder control is not just a condition of the aging process,” according to Roxanne Higgins, Rehabilitation Coordinator at Golden Living at Phoenixville. “Our UI programs can help successfully treat many patients and help them enjoy more active lives.”
For laws related to Pennsylvania nursing homes, look here.