Management of urinary incontinence in the elderly

Gerontology. 1997;43(3):151-7. doi: 10.1159/000213844.


Urinary incontinence is common in the elderly, affecting 6-8% of people over 64 years in the community and up to 31% in hospital and long-term care. It is possible to establish the diagnosis clinically in most incontinent patients with the likelihood of improving symptoms in the majority. Treatment of patients with urinary incontinence requires attention to general and specific measures. General measures include moderation of fluid intake to about 1.5 litres/day, reduced intake of caffeine-rich drinks, treatment of aggravating conditions such as urinary infection, oestrogen deficiency, increased solute load as in diabetes mellitus and uraemia, and drugs like diuretics, sedatives and antidepressants. Specific measures include pelvic floor exercises, vaginal cones, interferential therapy and oestrogens for patients with stress incontinence. Bladder retraining and anticholinergic drugs are for patients with urge incontinence, and alpha-blockers and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors for patients with overflow incontinence due to prostatic hyperplasia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urinary Incontinence / diagnosis
  • Urinary Incontinence / etiology
  • Urinary Incontinence / physiopathology
  • Urinary Incontinence / therapy*