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My 89 year old mother has recently lost control of her bladder - meaning ALL OF SUDDEN and OUT OF NOWHERE, she has to IMMEDIATELY go to the bathroom. Most times, she doesn't make it to the bathroom and wets her pants. She was tested for a UTI - negative. Anyone else encounter this and actually be able to get it "fixed?" I would really appreciate the help. Thanks. Val

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My husband goes through times when this happens to him. It comes and goes and distresses him to no end. UTI has been ruled out but prostrate enlargement happens to be a factor for him.
It isn't all of the time and it is unpredictable.
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Sorry all not sure why my response to @amitebird posted here as well as below the post chain I put it in...couldn't find a way to just remove it up here on the main thread.
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Reply to Lymie61
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Your best course of action is to have your mother seen by a urologist. They are the most qualified to make a thorough assessment and design a treatment plan.
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Reply to brad4d
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She could try VESAcare, a medicine for frequent urination. But she should be seen by her doctor and specialist first.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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your mother can get Botox in her bladder or that area to control the spasm of urgency. I think that’s what you are saying that she must go to bathroom. The downside is insurance will eventually cover it but after having gone through the different steps of pill poppingand other devices. It’s a lengthy process to go through to qualify for Botox injections. It depends on the person but each injection can last 6-9 months. There is also a device that can be implanted in the back that will somehow send signal to the bladder not to spaz out. Good luck.
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My mom the same, Her dignity was at the center, a private thing, I helped remedy with the confidence of depends.
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On a related issue, I'd like to address laundry issues with urine. White vinegar is excellent for removing the odour. I put it in the fabric softener slot (no fabric softener). For a big problem, do a rinse prior to washing using the vinegar.
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Consider a possible diagnosis of normal pressure hydrocephalus. Your primary care doc or neurologist would order an MRI without contrast and an MRI with contrast. This should show whether NPH is present. If it is, a test done by spinal tap may be performed. If NPH is present, a programable ventricular peritoneal shunt can be installed and could resolve the issue.
That was my experience.
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I know the possible fix. My relative got a pessary installed in her vagina to prop up internal stuff that was sagging. I took her to three gyns who didn't know what they were doing. Two tried the pessary but it was likely the wrong size. I called around to gyn practices, asked to speak to the nurse, asked about the problem. One nurse recommended a gyn in ANOTHER practice. The doctor had studied how to use a pessary for her patients. Bless you Dr Teresa M. Problem was largely solved. Be aware, the pessary has to be removed, cleaned and the vagina looked at every three months by the doctor. There are also medications for this problem. The specialist who should deal with this problem is a genitourologist. Depending on the person's general health and willingness to undergo the treatment etc, you may decide that using pull up incontinence underwear is what will work for you. For you younger post menapausal ladies, getting serious about the kegel exercise and getting a low level estrogen "pill" to insert in the vagina will delay the occurrence of this problem for you.
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Possibly she has lost sensation and waits too long! Timed voiding will help with this (so she doesn't wait too long!) Also wearing depends would help a little when she is out in public. Figure out how long since she has gone and see that she goes before the urge hits! Coffee and tea and caffeinated drinks act as diuretics so possibly avoid those out and about!
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Toadhall Feb 18, 2019
I will add that the caffeine also causes a mildly irritated feeling in the bladder, a feeling like you have to go when you don't. When I have caffeine, my bladder complains it's full when it's not. Shut up bladder!
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A sedentary lifestyle contributes. Sitting a lot - not exercising, moving for circulation. This must be encouraged and become a daily routine - Kegel exercises. Loss of bladder control because muscles mass is gone - weak. Yes, all of the other comments are true - no coffee, no alcohol and normal re-hydration- May want to look into holistic methods too. Internal body care is key. Doctors are "prescribers" they LOAD the elderly up on 30 different medications that harm our bodies and don't interact well - a side effect for a side effect is another prescription.
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Toadhall Feb 18, 2019
There is a form of physical therapy for bladder control problems. Also a good doctor will give the patient a written program of bladder retraining. In the training, you try to hold increasingly larger amounts of urine. Voiding the bladder too frequently is a problem in younger people. You are allowing the muscle to do less and less work, so it weakens. All this is depended on how much work the person wants to do for the problem, but I provide this info also for the middle aged who also suffer.
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Hi Val,
Loss (sudden) of bladder control and fatigue were the only clues my 83 yo mom had ovarian cancer. A CA125 blood test might be an easy first line check. She started wearing Depends b/c she did not want to smell. She worried about the cost so did not change them often enough - UTI resulted. Lessons learned. Good luck!
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Toadhall Feb 18, 2019
Thank you for this! Excellent reminder. Ovarian cancer is sneaky. Any symptoms are very very vague.
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There are medications. Just make sure to check on any side effects. My Mom with start of Dementia took Vesicare, Neuorologist took her off of it since it can cause memory problems. We are to try a new medication now. They do work. And of course we don't really notice how helpful they are until they are stopped. Also, with the pads, some will rub the tender parts - so you might have to try a few and check to assure they aren't rubbing a place sore - like at the back area - some pads have a little length that can "hit" wrong causing tender spots. We trade off or apply Vaseline as a preventative.
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Strohdg Feb 18, 2019
Good advice! Gold Bond powder or lotion helps with chaffing as well. Sometimes petroleum products can cause allergies. I am allergic that is why I mention this.
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Some people, especially long-time diabetics, lose sensation around the bladder and don't feel the need to urinate until the bladder is very very full. Pads are only part of a solution.
If she can get to the toilet without much difficulty, put her on a schedule. Try every hour at first and then every two hours. She may say she doesn't feel the urge but have her sit down on the toilet anyway. This will save loads of laundry.
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Reply to Bigsister7
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I’m guessing she probably has a nerve that is no longer functioning because of a lower back disc problem. You can have her seen by a neurologist to have that checked out or by a orthopedist. In the meantime buy some depends for her.
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Reply to Glendaj2
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There are times when I go on coughing jags--usually eating too fast. This causes stress incontinence. That's one reason I wear a pad every time I home and a toilet isn't immediately handy. The other reason is that I have microcolitis and don't know when a bout of diarrhea will strike as well. My daughter and daughter-in law know about this, so if I need to go to Memory Care they can pass along the information.
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Reply to Arleeda
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Ok i’ll admit it here ... im 78 and wear a pad that i line with a folded paper towel over it held in place with a small walmart options pad connected to the towel and my pants so the towel doesnt fall out.

After my hysterectomy my bowel and bladder fell and things are i guess leaning on each other.

I work at a call center and after ive been sitting about an hour and a half i go to the restroom since i dont know how long my next call will be except maybe too late !

Im not interested in an operation and so far after about almost 20 years ive gotten to this point and it works ... for now anyway.
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Toadhall Feb 18, 2019
Please see my info about a pessary that the gyn can put in the vagina--no surgery. It props up the sagging stuff internally. This might help you.
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Hello, best way is to put them in comfortable diapers around the clock
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Reply to Nidia1
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On stress days for my mom, I double up: pull on Depends with an additional overnight, extra long, extra absorbent, thick pad as a liner.
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Reply to GAinPA
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Once you have ruled out all other possible problems start a routine and have her get up at least every 2 hours and go tot he bathroom. Even if she does not "have" to go. Many times we forget how long it actually has been since we have gone and then the urge hits and by the time we realize it it is to late..or almost to late.
Many times it is the fact that the last time we went the bladder did not fully empty and you sit there and say I just went I can't believe I have to go again!
There are medications that might help. There are pads that she could put in her underwear or possibly switch to disposable underwear. (I know..who figured you would spend the first part of your life wearing diapers, a brief time (no pun intended) wearing underwear, a time wearing underwear with a pad, then just underwear again, then underwear with a pad, then diapers again! Talk about a full circle.)
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Reply to Grandma1954
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In addition to the great advice you've already received ... I'm 72 and cognitively intact (mostly) and this happens to me a few times a year. It's always when I'm also experiencing back pain. Apparently there's some spinal degeneration in the area where the nerves for bladder and bowel exit the spinal cord ... and when they are impinged on, those muscles are much weaker.

If she has a chiropractor, an adjustment would be great. If she doesn't, you probably should consider consulting one, but many will ask for xrays before treating a new patient of advanced age because our skeletons can be so fragile.

And definitely switch to some sort of disposable or launderable-absorbent briefs.
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sandi61 Feb 18, 2019
Maggiebea thank you for that info. I've never heard that before and it makes total sense.
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I would consult with a urologist. There are medications that might help, but a urologist is the place to start.
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Reply to Silverspring
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My husband has days were he suddenly can't control a thing and he wets himself. He wears the pull up depends on those days. Other days he wears a nice little pad that goes in his underwear.
He gets horrified when he loses control.
No UTI, but his seems stress related which is strange and odd.
If he has a day where he gets upset and cranky...the next day is depends day.
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I usually mention HDIS which delivers to your home all sorts of choices for supplies. I have to add that a couple years ago I had hopefully my first and last tiny kidney stone. The pain was unrelenting and I afraid it might be something worse I subjected myself to an ER visit. After hours of non-drugged care and a CT scan, they announced I have/had a kidney stone. That if it had not yet passed (I was feeling better so we suspect I may have considering I was there all day) it soon would, unnoticed most likely. I came home and just was totally shocked that I had to GO but immediately, and even though my bathroom is feet away I could not get there in time! It was horrifying. AND it happened at least 2 or 3 times, necessitating the change of pj's. Someone told me it was probably just a bladder spasm the result of the stone...and no issues since...but it was sure disturbing and taught me more compassion for those coping with it. With my mom having dementia as we contemplate a new sofa or reupholstering I'm looking at fabrics that are not toxic but have protection built in against spills etc. There's a fabric called Crypton that is good for dogs...so that should be pretty resilient...good luck...
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Reply to gdaughter
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Your profile doesn’t say if your mom has dementia but if she does this is a pretty normal thing to happen in the sequence of events. Other good suggestions on incontinence briefs and seeing a specialist. Also if you switch her to the pull ups like Depends, remove her other panties so she has no choice but to use them. Otherwise she will revert or get confused with the choices. I finally had to do that with my dad.
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Reply to Harpcat
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I would ask the AL to see she goes every two hours. This is what they did with my Mom. Your Mom, like a child, maybe holding it till its too late. She may not even feel she has to go till its too late. Does she have Dementia? This could be part of the problem.

I agree, time for Depends. I bought the Walgreen brand, Serenity. They have a buy one get the other 1/2 off at times. Also, the monthly coupon booklet may have a $5 off.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Find a gynecologist-urologist first to rule out any disease. Start getting her in disposable briefs. You may have some trial and error by brand. Expect to pay $70 to 100 per month on supplies if this is permanent
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ValGrubb Feb 16, 2019
Got it. Appt set-up for my next trip to visit her. I'm a little concerned it's a month out, but sadly I just don't trust anyone taking mom to the doctor but me. They just never ask all the questions I want them to. Thanks!
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It wasn't sudden but my mom has this problem too, she has for years. There was a time when there was talk about doing surgery but those days are gone and I imagine at your moms age they are for her too. There are medications that can help so you might talk it over with her PCP but either way it's time for some incontinence undergarments. Depends work best for Mom but there are many brands of disposables out there to try as well as cotton reusable underwear she could try if you want to go that route (lots of laundry). I would highly recommend a waterproof mattress cover and several washable pads for the bed and chairs if that becomes a problem. For my mom it's only at night and when she forgets to put on a new nighttime pair of special underwear (we never call them diapers) that she has leaks but it happens enough that she always has the pads on the bed. I found that putting on 2 sets of sheet/pad and or pad under and on top of the sheet makes life easier because she (or we) can just take off the wet/damp set and there is already a fresh on underneath so we only have to remake the bed every few days maybe rather than more often and we aren't doing laundry every day. But this is very common though I don't know how common this sudden oncome of it is so a visit and conversation with the doctor about other possibilities (UTI was a great first bet) seems appropriate. Also just as a bit of FYI my mom shows symptoms of UTI before testing positive sometimes, it's happened more than once, now those are cognitive signs but I imagine patients can be different so another test for UTI might not be inappropriate, I don't know how long this has been going on. Good luck, I know how difficult this can be on them and on you.
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ValGrubb Feb 16, 2019
Doc appt set up and I'm going to request another UTI test. The make me nervous in the AL facility. LOTS of helpful suggestions here. THANK YOU!
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