Most people don’t like to talk about the bladder or what it does, especially when it isn’t working properly. The bladder is a balloon-like organ that stores urine until it is evacuated from the body. Like many organs of the body, it can change as a person ages. The bladder may become less flexible, not allowing it to expand as much to hold urine. That may cause your loved one to have to use the bathroom more often. The walls and the pelvic floor may weaken, making it more difficult to fully empty the bladder, which can cause urine to leak out later at unexpected times.
Even if your loved one isn’t experiencing any bladder issues, he can help prevent them by applying these seven steps for better bladder health.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Both of these can help him maintain a healthy bladder and reduce the risk of leaking urine. Have your loved one plan out his daily exercise routine (30 minutes a day is optimum) and then have an accountability partner such as his elder care provider to keep him focused on meeting those daily goals.
- Make diet adjustments. Some foods and drinks can make bladder problems worse. Soda, artificial sweeteners, citrus fruits, and spicy foods can make a bladder problem worse. If any of those items are a regular part of your loved one’s diet, ask his elder care provider to help him find better substitutes the next time they go grocery shopping.
- Drink more water. If your loved one enjoyed his soda and is looking for a replacement, have him increase his water consumption. He should drink enough that he needs to urinate every few hours to keep his bladder in tip-top shape.
- Drink less alcohol and caffeine. Both of these products can cause bladder issues. Caffeinated drinks can irritate the bladder and stimulate it to need to urinate too often.
- When urinating, take time and relax. Running into the bathroom and then running out may not give your loved one’s body the time it needs to fully empty the bladder. Your loved one should give himself enough time to fully empty his bladder when urinating.
- Urinate often. While sometimes a person can become very busy or focused on an activity, your loved one should strive to take breaks at least to urinate every few hours. Holding urine in the bladder can weaken the bladder muscles and possibly create a bladder infection. Have your elder care provider ask your loved one each time he visits when was the last time he used the bathroom. If it was more than 4 hours ago, he should try to use it again.
- Wear cotton and loose-fitting clothes. Both of these will allow the area to stay dry and not trap moisture, which can lead to infections.
Don’t let bladder issues keep your loved one from enjoying life. Help him find some new healthy bladder practices and if the problem persists, see a doctor to help him find a solution so he can continue to get out and do the things he loves.