The elderly, critically ill patient is particularly prone to transient and established fecal or urinary incontinence. With proper management, these devastating problems can be managed, alleviated, or prevented promptly. Care of incontinence is not simply a hygienic consideration. Elderly persons who experience loss of bladder or bowel control frequently are depressed, isolated, and fearful of discovery. Left untreated, these individuals are prone to mental and social deterioration that may lead to social isolation or institutionalization. With adequate awareness and prompt management, however, the critical care nurse can prevent transient incontinence from becoming an established pattern, and he or she can serve as a resource for the elderly patient who seeks care and understanding for this significant condition.