While it’s not commonly talked about, changes to the bladder can start in adults as early as age 50. Read on to learn more about when to talk to your doctor and tips for a healthy bladder.
Some common issues for older adults include increased frequency in urination, as well as bladder leakages, or incontinence, which can lead to infections or point to other serious health issues. Seniors with dementia are more prone to bladder issues as they age.
“All of us are impacted by bladder issues at some point,” says Dr. Randy Ferrance
, InnovAge medical director for Virginia. “Even subtle changes can indicate there might be something bigger going on,” he says.
A weak urine stream or difficulty in going may indicate an enlarged prostate in men. For both men and women, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most commonly diagnosed infections in older adults. On average
, 10 in 25 women and 3 in 25 men will have symptoms of a UTI within their lifetime. “Most UTIs aren’t serious, but without treatment, they can lead to kidney infections, and worse,” explains Dr. Ferrance.
Tips for a Healthy Bladder
- Keep the area clean. “For older adults especially, it’s important to keep their genital area clean,” says Dr. Ferrance. If they use incontinence products, be sure they are changed regularly. For women, wipe front to back and always urinate after sexual intercourse.
- Go! Use the bathroom regularly. “Don’t hold it,” advises Dr. Ferrance. Take time to fully empty the bladder.
- Pay attention to diet. A healthy diet is essential. Fiber-rich foods, proteins, fruits, and vegetables all promote healthy bladders. Avoid drinks that contain alcohol and caffeine, as they are bladder irritants.
- Stay hydrated. Staying hydrated can help ward off UTIs. The best drink is water. Mayo Clinic advises adult men drink approximately 15.5 cups per day and adult women should aim for 11.5 cups. “Not all of this has to come from liquids – many foods also contain quite a bit of water, such as spinach or certain fruits,” explains Dr. Ferrance.
If you’ve noticed any changes in your bladder, talk with your doctor.