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Urinary Incontinence Considerations for Nurses

Nurses who specialize in caring for the elderly encounter an assortment of issues that are not common for nurses in other types of care. For example, incontinence is one that we often hear about as older people begin to lose control of their everyday faculties.

These issues can start to occur for a number of different reasons. While it may be an uncomfortable topic for some, it is a primary component of gerontological nursing, and elder care nurses must have a comprehensive understanding of this condition.

What Is Incontinence?

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), “urinary incontinence means a person leaks urine by accident. While it can happen to anyone, urinary incontinence, also known as overactive bladder, is more common in older people, especially women.”

Nurses will treat urinary incontinence patients according to their specific type of incontinence and the best method that aligns with their lifestyle. It is helpful when nurses are knowledgeable about the various types of incontinence and treatment methods available to relieve the patient’s burden.

The best approaches include a combination of treatments that involve:

  • Pelvic muscle exercises
  • Urgency suppression through techniques to distract your body from needing to urinate
  • Timed voiding to keep your bladder on a specific schedule
  • Medications
  • Creams or ointments
  • Medical devices
  • Surgery

Many nurses allow the patient to express how they would like to address their incontinence, providing them the freedom and empowerment to choose on their own terms. They may guide the patient in a specific direction, but the ultimate decision is typically up to the individual with urinary incontinence.

Causes and Adverse Effects if Left Untreated

Nurses who can identify signs of a person’s incontinence early on are critical to safeguarding the well-being of older patients. If left untreated, the situation can complicate many other factors for the patient.

The NIH states, “incontinence can happen for many reasons, including urinary tract infections, vaginal infection or irritation, or constipation. Some medications can also cause bladder control problems that last for a long time. In males, the most common cause for incontinence is related to the prostate gland.” However, there are also various levels associated with the causes of incontinence, which include:

  • Weak bladder
  • Overactive bladder
  • Damage to nerves caused by diseases
  • Pelvic organ prolapse
  • Prostatitis
  • Injury or damage
  • Enlarged prostate gland

Additionally, the causes can stem from factors including stress or pressure put on the bladder, the sudden urge to urinate, the overflowing of a full bladder and trouble getting to the bathroom because of specific conditions unrelated to urination.

If left untreated, patients with urinary incontinence will continue to have problems that might worsen over time. Unaddressed incontinence can also lead to new symptoms or additional conditions.

Importance of Compassion for Patients

Nurses need to cultivate a level of compassion for their patients dealing with urinary incontinence. Many individuals are confused about their condition and often embarrassed to admit they have problems with this faculty. When nurses express compassion, their patients will recognize this and perceive them as individuals with their best interests in mind and advocating for them.

Clipboard Academy states that “practicing compassionate care helps to provide the best possible treatment and improves patient outcomes. Compassionate care is more than just relieving suffering by treating physical problems, it is on an emotional level.”

Enhance Your Knowledge With a Master’s Degree

One way to enhance your knowledge as a gerontological nurse practitioner is to further your career and earn your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Those who enroll in the MSN — Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP) online program at Northern Kentucky University will enrich their nursing practice with the skills and credentials to treat adolescent, adult and geriatric patients in acute care settings.

Students will manage the treatment of patients with high acuity needs, including chronic and complex health conditions. This intensive program allows all students to use evidence-based practice to demonstrate advanced levels of clinical judgment, systems thinking and accountability — while implementing change to improve healthcare outcomes.

For example, the Differential Diagnosis and Disease Management in Acute Care I, II, & III courses cover the various types of diseases prevalent in adult-gerontology patients. In the Advanced Technologies for Acute Care and Diagnostic Reasoning course, students focus on assessing, implementing and evaluating advanced technologies in the diagnosis process of adult-gerontology patients. Students can complete coursework in as few as 22 months.

Each future AGACNP will obtain the knowledge and skills required to enter influential roles in nursing homes, hospitals, critical care units and much more.

Learn more about Northern Kentucky University’s online MSN — Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program.

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