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:

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:

If you are caring for someone with a bladder or bowel problem, see our advice for carers.


National Continence Helpline

The National Continence Helpline is staffed by a team of continence nurse advisers and is available to anyone in Australia. It operates from 8am to 8pm (AEST) Monday to Friday.
National continence helpline

Continence Foundation of Australia

The Continence Foundation of Australia supports Australians affected by, or at risk of, bladder and bowel control problems.
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