Alzheimer’s and Incontinence: How They’re Related A Guest Post by Eric I. Mitchnick, MD, FACS

Caring For The Caregiver offered by Phyllis Quinlan, PhD, RN-BC

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Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive illness of the brain that gradually destroys a person’s cognitive capabilities and, eventually, interferes with the performance of basic daily self-care functions. People in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s tend to experience incontinence, which is loss of control of either the bladder or bowels, or both. However, not everyone who has the disease will become incontinent.

The relationship between Alzheimer’s disease and incontinence is complex. Alzheimer’s may cause incontinence by taking away a person’s ability to recognize the need to go to the bathroom. However, Alzheimer’s also can be an indirect cause, by posing issues of mobility or confusion that may prevent the Alzheimer’s sufferer from reaching a bathroom in time. Furthermore, a person with Alzheimer’s can have incontinence issues arising from medical causes that might be independent of Alzheimer’s, such as a urinary tract infection, weak pelvic muscles, an enlarged prostate gland, or…

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