Objective: To describe the characteristics of urinary incontinence and related factors in incontinent homebound older adults.
Design: A descriptive study of 90 cognitively intact incontinent homebound older persons referred to a clinical trial to examine the effectiveness of behavioral therapies in the treatment of urinary incontinence (UI) in homebound patients.
Setting and participants: Incontinent patients more than 60 years of age who met the Health Care Financing Administration's definition of homebound were referred to a clinical trial by home care nurses from a Medicare-approved home care agency in a large metropolitan country in Pennsylvania.
Measures: Structured continence and medical history, basic and instrumental activities of daily living, Folstein MMSE, Geriatric Depression Scale, mobility-toileting skills, bladder diaries, and physical examination.
Results: Four hundred eighty-four persons were referred to the clinical trial, and 90 cognitively intact persons were found eligible to participate in this study (80 women and 10 men). Subjects had a mean age of 75.8 years, reported a mean of 8.4 medical problems, and most, 80%, had functional limitations in ambulation. Subjects recorded a mean of 3.8 urinary accidents/day-1.4 large and 2.4 small accidents/ day-in baseline bladder diaries. The majority, 73.3%, had more than 10 accidents per week, and most patients reported mixed urge, stress (57.1%), or pure urge (37.7%) UI. Half (54.4%) reported that UI further restricted their activities, and 52.2% reported that this problem was extremely disturbing. However, 90.5% believed that UI could be treated.
Conclusions: Urinary incontinence tends to be severe among cognitively intact homebound older adults in both frequency and volume of accidents. Although subjects were homebound with many health and functional disabilities, they perceived UI as a very disturbing problem that further restricted their activities. Participants in this study were optimistic about the potential benefits of treatment.