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A regional approach to continence management

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URINARY INCONTINENCE, WHICH AFFECTS A SIZABLE NUMBER OF CANADIANS, CAN HAVE A DRAMATIC IMPACT ON A PERSON'S INDEPENDENCE, SOCIAL LIFE AND DAILY ACTIVITIES. AN ALBERTA PROGRAM SHOWS THAT IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY.

About 1.5 million Canadians suffer from urinary incontinence.(1) Although it can occur in all age groups, it is a major concern in the elderly because it affects one in five Canadians aged 65 and older.(2)

Realizing that the discovery of urinary incontinence by others may mean the difference between a dependent and an independent lifestyle, many people harbour the secret. Their fear of discovery often prompts them to use multiple coping strategies to prevent the sight, smell and occurrence of urine from being detected by others.(3) Unfortunately, this secretive approach to incontinence keeps many individuals unaware of the help available and the possibilities for treatment or cure.(4) The impact on daily life is significant. The day-to-day activities that most people take for granted -- travelling on public transport, staying away overnight -- become major planning exercises or impossible. Being "caught short" in public is a constant concern.(5) Instead, many people accept urinary incontinence as a normal part of aging and regress further and further into social isolation, literally becoming recluses. For these individuals, their public and private lives are consumed with constant vigils of toileting, restricting fluids and searching for the ideal product to control urinary leakage.(6) They are often able to hide their problem until some catastrophic event occurs, such as the loss of a spouse, a fall or an acute illness.

Urinary incontinence imposes tremendous social and economic burdens on society. For family caregivers, incontinence can be a significant burden. It increases the amount of personal care required, and the estimated cost of supplies is high. For...