Common Causes of Incontinence in Elderly Adults

A doctor explaining positive test results to a smiling senior patient

Urinary incontinence in seniors can be treated with the help of a doctor.

Incontinence, or a loss of bladder control, is a disturbing and delicate issue, especially for seniors. It can trigger a number of problems, from skin sores to social reclusiveness for individuals who are afraid to leave the house in case of an “accident.” But while bladder leakage causes more than 25 million people in America to suffer with complications, the condition rarely gets the attention and dialogue it needs. With the lack of communication and information about urinary incontinence in seniors, many seniors and those who provide their care feel as though there isn’t anything that can be done about it.

Nonetheless, senior incontinence is not inescapable as people age. While many older individuals do discover that their bladders may be “weak,” leading to leaks, sometimes the issue has a quick and easy solution.

Elderly Incontinence Problems That Can Be Treated:

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

UTIs, also called bladder infections, lead to an overwhelming urge to pass urine. In younger people, this feeling is noticeable, but it isn’t always as recognizable for older individuals. If a senior presents with sudden urinary incontinence when this had not been a difficulty before, look for additional indicators that suggest a UTI, such as:

  • Sudden confusion or agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Other behavioral changes
  • Poor motor skills
  • Falls

You might also notice:

  • Strong smelling urine
  • Cloudy urine, or blood in the urine
  • Fever
  • Complaints of pain when urinating
  • Complaints of pressure or pain in the abdomen
  • Night sweats

If you think your loved one may have a UTI, the older adult should be evaluated by the doctor and have his or her urine tested. Once the infection has been treated, the incontinence should be resolved or lessened.

Loss of Mobility

As mobility decreases, incontinence can develop into an issue. The need to urinate could come on suddenly and the older person may not be able to get to the bathroom quickly enough. This could also be an issue in the evenings, as it often takes longer to get out of bed to go to the bathroom, and awakening in the middle of the night can also lead to some confusion.

For older individuals with mobility issues, an in-home assessment from one of our home care experts can help offer recommendations.


Certain drugs, such as diuretics, boost the level of urine produced, creating an increased urge to urinate. If your loved one is on a medication that boosts urine production, it is important to keep this in mind if the senior has to leave the home or is not nearby a readily available bathroom.

As one of the top-rated home health companies, Harmony Home Health & Hospice understands how UTIs, senior incontinence, and other elderly health issues can affect quality of life. Our highly trained senior care team provides a wide range of home care services, including ambulation and toileting assistance, medication management, diabetes care management, and more, to help a senior loved one live his or her best life. Contact us today at 1-877-I-NEED-CARE (1-877-463-3322) to learn more about our home and hospice care in Salt Lake City, Ogden, Orem, Tooele, Albuquerque, or the surrounding areas in Northern Utah and Central New Mexico, or to see if our home health care services are available in your community.