an online resource for baby boomers

Living with Incontinence

You are not alone. Even the healthiest among us can experience one or more types of bladder weakness. Help is available to reduce or eliminate incontinence by treating and/or managing the underlying causes in ways that fit your own personal lifestyle and preferences. In other words, incontinence does not have to change the way you feel about yourself or interfere with your ability to live life to the fullest.

Bladder leakage is a result of a decline in your ability to control the muscles that support the bladder. A hammock of muscles, called pelvic floor muscles, holds the bladder in place and keeps it closed. If these muscles lose their strength and flexibility, even everyday activities such as coughing may cause leakage.

Other Contributing Factors:

There are various types of bladder leakage


You discover that leakage ‘just happens’ when doing even the simplest things, like walking, exercising, laughing, coughing, sneezing or moving in such a way that puts pressure on your abdomen. Childbirth, constipation, being overweight or a chronic cough can weaken the pelvic muscles supporting the bladder, causing the bladder to leak.


You have a frequent or sudden urge to urinate and then encounter leakage. Bladder infections, caffeine, alcohol and not drinking enough water can lead to concentrated urine that irritates the bladder.


You experience spontaneous or continuous leakage.


You urinate without experiencing an urge to do so. This may be the result of a leak in your bladder, urethra or ureter.

Mixed Symptoms

It is fairly common to have more than one type of symptom.

Depending upon the causes, bladder weakness may be permanent or temporary. An example of permanent bladder weakness could be a traumatic injury to the spinal cord, where it is no longer possible for the brain to send signals to the excretory organs. Temporary bladder weakness may be caused by medications such as diuretics. When the diuretic is no longer taken, the bladder weakness may disappear. Since there are many causes and treatments for the loss of bladder and bowel control, it is recommended that you seek health care advice to discuss the treatments and options.

Some common questions that your healthcare provider may want to discuss are below:

Do you have strong, sudden urges to urinate?Overactive Bladder
Have you leaked urine on the way to the bathroom?Overactive Bladder with Urge Urinary Incontinence
How often do you use the toilet to empty your bladder during the day hours?Overactive Bladder
Do you lose urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising, or engaged in other forms of physical activity?Overactive Bladder with the need to get up during the night in order to urinate
Do you use pads, tissue, or cloth in your underwear to catch urine?Stress Urinary Incontinence
How often do you awaken at night to empty your bladder?Urge Urinary Incontinence, Stress Urinary Incontinence, Mixed

For many people, behavior modification is the treatment of choice because it is the most natural. For most adults this is simply a matter of adopting new habits that can greatly enhance their quality of life.

Adults who remain physically active look and feel better and are more aware of their bodies. They tend to notice small changes in their physical ability to perform certain functions. They also notice physical reactions to foods and drugs. Physical activity also helps them maintain their proper weight. This is a major benefit because excess weight increases pressure on the excretory organs and can contribute to bladder weakness.

The most important thing to remember is the bladder weakness can be helped. Speaking a your health care professional will help you find the right product and/or solution for you.

HomeAboutContact Boomers Resource Guide
Boomers Resource Guide is a special supplement to the Senior Citizen's Guide