Bladder and bowel for older Australians
Bladder and bowel problems can be very common in older people. Find out why this is and what you can do to manage a bladder or bowel problem
Bladder and bowel problems, like incontinence, become more common as you age. People aged 85 years are 5 times more likely to experience severe incontinence compared to people aged 65 to 84.
As you age, the way your bladder and bowel work, changes. These changes include:
- the bladder can’t hold as much wee (urine)
- bladder muscles weaken
- enlarged prostate gland
- need to go to the toilet more at night (nocturia)
- weakness in your bottom muscles due to childbirth or injury
- loss of sensation in your bottom
- softening of poos
These changes can often be a sign of other health problems.
As well as incontinence, changes in your bladder and bowel health can also cause:
Bladder and bowel problems can develop or get worse if you also have:
- decreased mobility
- reduced brain function – including dementia
- poor nutrition
- side effects from medication
- very thin skin
What can you do to help?
If you are struggling with a bladder or bowel problem there is help available. With the right advice and treatment, problems can often be cured or managed.
Some things you can do are:
- take the bladder questionnaire
- regular pelvic floor exercises
- have a bladder control check up
- see your doctor for a management plan
If you are caring for someone with a bladder or bowel problem, see our advice for carers.