Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 12(3) September 1999 : 13-17.doi:10.12927/cjnl.1999.19080

Promoting Seniors' Health - Confronting the Issue of Incontinence

Jennifer Skelly and Sheryl Boblin-Cummings


Incontinence is a demoralizing and costly problem that severely affects the quality of seniors' lives. With the aging Canadian population expected to double within the next 15 years, the elderly are at the highest risk of developing incontinence. It is now recognised that incontinence can be successfully managed, and in many cases, resolved.

A survey was conducted with seniors experiencing problems with incontinence who were receiving home care services. Results showed that incontinence has a significant impact on their lives. Seniors tend to mistakenly see the problem as an inevitable factor in the aging process; consequently many hesitate to seek information. In addition, they face barriers to receiving incontinence care that includes knowledge and access to services and resources.

Nurses have the potential to take a leading role in reducing the problem of incontinence and in reducing the impact on the lives of seniors. In order to realize this potential, nurses need to be more aware of their attitudes towards incontinence and more informed about conservative treatment options. Some thought needs to be given to the role of the general nurse, and the role of a specialized nurse such as the nurse continence advisor.

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