Top Ways for Seniors to Maintain Bladder Health
It’s the size of a pear, can hold up to two cups of fluid, and will let you know in no uncertain terms when it needs your attention. It also changes as we grow older, making it all the more important to take care of this vital organ.
The bladder is stretchy and elastic in our younger years, but toughens with aging. Bladder muscles also can weaken with age, which can lead to urinary problems that wreak havoc on a senior’s quality of life, such as:
Infections: UTIs (urinary tract infections), kidney infections, and bladder infections cause problems that range from pain or discomfort when urinating to permanent damage if left untreated.
Cancer: Bladder cancer occurs 90% of the time in seniors, affecting as many as 80,000 Americans each year. Risk factors include genetics, smoking and exposure to other chemicals, and insufficient fluid intake.
LUTS: LUTS (lower urinary tract symptoms) include incontinence, leaking, frequent urge to urinate, and difficulty with expelling urine. These types of concerns are the result of any number of problems with the bladder itself or with the urethra or pelvic floor muscles.
Warning signs of bladder problems include:
- Urinary incontinence or urine leaking
- The urge to urinate more than eight times in a 24-hour period
- Feeling an urgent and sudden need to urinate
- Waking up throughout the night to urinate
- Burning or pain experienced during urination, or before/after urinating
- Discolored urine
- Difficulty with fully emptying the bladder
- Be sure to schedule a check-up for an older adult who is experiencing any of these symptoms.
While some bladder problems are not within a senior’s control, there are certain lifestyle changes that can be made to improve bladder health, such as:
- Maintaining a healthy weight and BMI
- Staying physically active
- Quitting smoking and eliminating caffeine and alcohol from the diet
- Reviewing medications with the doctor for any side effects that may cause bladder problems
- Avoiding foods that can irritate the bladder, such as soda, citrus fruits, artificial sweeteners, and spicy foods
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