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Continence problems are not simply ‘part of getting older’

Feros Care Virtual Clinician, Caroline, explains why seniors don’t have to accept incontinence, and how seeking support with our continence advisory service can quite literally change lives.

Going to the toilet more often or a bit of ‘dribble’ is to be expected in later life, right? Wrong. We’re on a mission to debunk the theory that it’s a natural part of the aging process, and something seniors ‘should just put up with’.

There are many reasons why people of all ages experience either urinary or bowel incontinence, but aging as a sole factor is not one of them. The good news is many forms of incontinence are very treatable – and there are instances when the condition can be eliminated altogether.

We sat down with Feros Care Virtual Care Clinician, Caroline, who is eager for people to know that they don’t have to ‘grin and bear’ incontinence, and that our continence advisory service has helped many seniors restore their quality of life.

Breaking the stigma

Considering how prevalent incontinence is, it’s something we shouldn’t be embarrassed to raise. In fact, the Continence Foundation of Australia reported in December 2023 that one in four Australians experience incontinence at varying degrees at some stage – 80% of which are women*.  

There are many causes and different types of incontinence, and different treatment options available. For women, pregnancy, prolapse, or menopause can affect continence, and for men, prostate-related conditions are often key contributors. Illnesses and chronic conditions such as diabetes, dementia, and Parkinson’s Disease can also play a role, plus some lesser-known factors as highlighted by Caroline. 

“Many people don’t realise that certain medications and eating and drinking habits may cause continence issues, and are often easy to resolve,” she says.

“It can be simple things like looking at different medications, dietary changes, fluid intake, exercise programs, and introducing some basic pelvic floor work.”

Reach out to the right people

“In addition to feeling uncomfortable discussing continence with family and friends, many people don’t mention it to their doctor because they think there is nothing that can be done. But the reality is, in so many instances there are ways to manage it,” says Caroline.

“Most people will just go to the shops and buy products they think will help without seeking professional guidance. It can be very overwhelming as there are so many to choose from and often, they’re not the right ones.”

“Plus, there is a financial element too. Some people can’t afford these products and affordability is something else we can address.”

Caroline’s advice is straightforward and well-founded; “Talk to someone, like our Virtual Care Clinicians, who will uphold your confidentiality, are empathetic, and can conduct a proper assessment. And remember, you’re not alone, so these conversations are certainly not foreign to us. It’s a prevalent condition and we want to support you to live your best life.”

Nurse showing senior woman a continence product

How Feros Care can help if you are a HCP, STRC, or CHSP client

Caroline explains how easy and ‘non-confronting’ it is to take advantage of a Feros Care continence assessment.

“If you are a Home Care Package (HCP) or Short Term Restorative Care (STRC) client, discuss it with your Wellbeing Manager who will raise a request with the Virtual Healthcare team, or contact us directly if you are a Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) client,” she says.

“We then organise an assessment to help understand the cause and type of continence issue, plus conduct follow-ups to check in on your progress. These are important to know how effective the treatment is, and to provide reassurance to our clients that they are fully supported,” says Caroline.

She emphasises that a continence assessment is not a five-minute process as they need to understand the ‘full picture’ to provide the right guidance. This involves more than simply asking a few basic questions, both to get to the root of the problem and to capture the required information for those applying for government funding.

“We really care, and asking lots of questions allows us to reach the best outcomes for our clients.”

“We can make referrals for any extra support clients may need, like to GPs, medical specialists, and pelvic floor specialists. We can send out samples to find the right products, and help clients apply for any relevant funding schemes if they are eligible.”

“And we can tailor the service to the individual. Some people prefer an in-home visit, whereas others are more comfortable discussing incontinence over the phone because it feels more private,” she says.

It’s “changed my life”

After a continence assessment, clients stop living life around their incontinence. They report significantly improved confidence, comfort, and quality of life.

Caroline has many success stories to share, and speaks about one lovely client who wouldn’t go out because of her incontinence and as a result, became socially isolated.

“She wasn’t using the right product; she was buying supermarket products which weren’t at all suitable. Then, after the continence assessment, we found the correct products, connected her with the right scheme, and she was just so happy and thankful.”

“She’s now out socialising and living life to the full again. Her exact words were, ‘This has changed my life’.

Mission accomplished.

To learn more about our continence advisory service and support or to book in your continence assessment, click here.

*Statistic via continence.org.au 

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