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Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2008 Apr;277(4):285-90. Epub 2007 Nov 20.

Psychosocial and societal burden of incontinence in the aged population: a review.

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  • 1The Procter and Gamble Company, Cincinnati, OH 45224, USA.


As the adults age, the risk of both urinary and fecal incontinence increases, the result of natural degenerative changes in concert with concomitant issues of aging such as infection, polypharmacy, and decreased cognitive function. Most adults past the age of 65 suffer incontinence on some level, with significant and often devastating impact on the physical and emotional health of the patient. Incontinence in the older adult is a humiliating and disabling disorder, which causes substantial stress, depression, and limitation. It can impede interpersonal relationships, decrease sexual function, and increase the risk of debilitating falls, institutionalization, and even increase mortality. Incontinence also represents a substantial economic burden to the general population. Nonetheless, incontinence is often undiagnosed, and when diagnosed, often left untreated. Although common in older adults, incontinence is not an inevitable consequence of aging but a disorder that can and should be treated. Appropriate clinical management of incontinence can help seniors continue to lead vital, active lives as well as avoid the cutaneous sequelae of this disorder.

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