How Common Is Incontinence in Older Adults?

6 answers | Last updated: Nov 01, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

How common is incontinence in older adults?

Expert Answers

Dr. Leslie Kernisan is the author of a popular blog and podcast at She is also a clinical instructor in the University of California, San Francisco, Division of Geriatrics.

By some estimates, as many as half of all adults will suffer from incontinence -- the loss of bladder or bowel control, causing leakage -- at some point in their lives. But incontinence isn't a normal or inevitable consequence of aging. It's a symptom of a problem, not a disease itself.

Urinary incontinence is much more common in women than in men, and it's more common than fecal incontinence. A national survey in 2005 found that 12 percent of women ages 60 to 64 reported daily urinary incontinence, as did 21 percent (or more than one in five) of women over age 85. Nine percent of men of all ages reported having had a bladder control problem in the previous 30 days.

Community Answers

What i should do answered...

Very important info. Thanks a million. Neville James

Happydoc answered...

very nice presentation, but would have liked more specific information. As a gynecologist with cognitive impairment (they are saying mild...but I stopped driving, gave up practice of medicine, no longer cook with flame....make lists and calendars's very difficult to explain to others what is happening in one's brain...It seems that my disease is not affecting my everyday living, but yet it is not only because I have self-limited dangerous things and am using many coping skills learned from this site.)But concerning incontinence, many women have incontinence for a variety of reasons in early life with no cognitive impairment. Especially regarding fecal incontinece, I would like to see more information.

Emily m. answered...

Hello happydoc,

Thank you very much for your comment. If you'd like to learn more about incontinence, we have a wonderful topic center full of useful innocence information, here: I hope that helps!

Take care, Emily | Community Manager

A fellow caregiver answered...

It makes a BIG difference if women practice kegaling from a young age! Most all of my female relatives have had bladder tucks out of "necessity, but I had nine 10# + children and I kegal daily. I haven't had a problem yet! I have been very unsuccessful in teaching my mother this simple exercise. She has accidents always!

Pochop answered...

Well, the above just acknowledged what most of us already knew? I have a 69 year old with dementia. She was aware of her bathroom needs at night until, Oct. she wet the bed two nights in a row. This just immediately started and now it is a nightly occurrence with her, we now go to bed at night in depends. What blocks the brain function from suddenly telling the person that it is time to get up and go to the bathroom?
New and un-explainable problems coming soon? Tell me? Have found that she still wishes to have her privacy/dignity, apart from me So am in the process of arranging for a companion caregiver for her