Our bodies produce less urine at night, and our urine becomes more concentrated, allowing us to get the restful sleep that our body requires. If a person needs to get up two or more times in the night to urinate, it is called Nocturnal Enuresis.
While getting up makes us tired the next day, adult-onset urinary incontinence can radically change a person’s life. The embarrassment of having to change our sheets, waking up a spouse due to a wet bed, or fear of travel or an overnight stay can change how we live on a day-to-day basis.
What Causes an Older Person to Wet the Bed?
Many issues can cause the onset of secondary enuresis – or adult-onset urinary incontinence. The cause can be a medical issue such as a blockage from a kidney stone or enlarged prostate, medication side effects, neurological disorder, or other medical reasons.
Treatment often starts by ruling out the cause through tests such as physical, urine, urological, and neurological exams. Once they determine the reason, they can treat the medical issue and hopefully stop elderly urinary incontinence at night.
Though sometimes, adult-onset urinary incontinence is not as easy to fix as in the individual with a decline from dementia.
Types of Urinary Incontinence
There are four urinary incontinence types; determining the cause can help you fix the problem.
- Stress incontinence occurs when a person coughs, sneezes, laughs, or strains, such as lifting a heavy object. When this happens, urine will leak out of the bladder. It is frequently the result of weak pelvic floor muscles.
- Urge Incontinence happens when an older person has a sudden urge to urinate and cannot hold it long enough to get to the bathroom.
- Overflow incontinence occurs because the bladder is full and small amounts of urine leak out. It is frequently the cause of a blockage, such as an enlarged prostate.
- Functional Incontinence occurs in a person with normal bladder control, but because of another medical condition such as severe arthritis, they cannot get to the bathroom.
It is called Secondary Enuresis – or adult-onset urinary incontinence when a previously continent individual suddenly starts to have incontinence episodes.
It is called Persistent Primary Nocturnal Enuresis when an individual does not have a period of continence for longer than six months. Only 2-3% of adults struggle with this condition.
Tips for Managing Seniors Night Time Incontinence?
1. Talk To a Professional
Before you start your journey, talk to a professional. Sometimes, elderly urinary incontinence at night is caused by an infection, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI), a food allergy, or an anatomic cause such as a weak pelvic floor muscle in women or enlarged prostate in men.
Is your older adult experiencing increased confusion at night or dementia? Could it be multiple sclerosis, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, or another disease process? Only a professional can determine if there is a medical cause behind your nighttime enuresis.
2. Protective Products
There are many products to help you with your incontinence. Items include pads on your bed, protective underwear, or a protective liner to place in your underwear. There is even a company that will send you free samples to try it before you make a purchase.
Make sure the protective pad remains positioned at night. If your older adult is a side sleeper or moves around a lot, consider specialty underwear to put over your incontinence nightwear to keep it in place.
3. Be prepared for Nighttime Leaks
Having what you need handy at night will reduce nighttime sleeplessness. Prepare a kit that includes your incontinence product, a change of nighttime clothes, sheets, wipes, or whatever else you may need to get back to bed quickly.
Preparing a kit can save time spent searching for needed items at night.
4. Remove Bathroom Obstacles
Make sure the older adult has a direct route to the bathroom, free of obstacles. According to one study, 41% of falls are due to getting up at least once to go to the bathroom at night.
5. Consider a Bedside Commode
Sometimes the answer can be as simple as placing a bedside commode within their room or next to the bed, so the trip to the bathroom is not as far. Putting a small amount of water or cleaner in the commode will reduce odor and make it easier to clean in the morning.
6. Keep a Diary
Sometimes, just by keeping a diary, you can figure out the cause of your incontinence. Tracking food and daily activities can help you see a trend of when or why urinary incontinence is occurring. Are certain foods a trigger, an activity, or maybe an evening of drinking alcohol? A diary will aid you in seeing patterns.
7. Liquid Intake
It is essential to get your required liquid every day. Studies show that many older adults do not drink the required amount. Even worse, a person who struggles with incontinence will try to limit liquid intake, even to the point of becoming severely dehydrated.
To keep your body healthy, including your bladder, an older adult should drink eight 8-ounce glasses daily. Ensure you get the amount needed at least a few hours before bedtime so you have time to empty your bladder before sleeping.
How Can You Reduce Your Symptoms?
Once you have talked to a professional and determined the cause, you can begin to make lifestyle changes to help your nighttime incontinence and increase your rest. Avoiding certain foods and drinking required fluids can reduce urinary incontinence symptoms.
Remember, nighttime incontinence is not a choice but affects many seniors. Do not be afraid or nervous about talking to a medical professional about your problem.
Another consideration is if the bedwetting is chronic and does not appear to resolve. Whether you plan on caregiving for the rest of your senior’s life or only for a short while, it’s never too early to look into finding a senior community. Our senior advisors are eager to help you find the perfect senior community and the help you need!