How often have we heard someone say (or maybe even say ourselves) “When I laugh I leak a little bit” or “I just wasn’t able to make it to the bathroom in time” or even “I woke up to go the bathroom 3 times last night”? All of these describe urinary incontinence, and unfortunately it is very common. The good news is, it’s treatable!
What is normal? The average adult of 65 years of age or older should only wake up to go the bathroom 0-1 times per night. During the day 5-8 voids is considered normal. And believe it or not, throughout the day there should not even be one drop of urine leakage. If you are not falling within these ranges, it is likely that you have some type of urinary incontinence.
How does this relate to falls? The pelvic floor is one of our 4 “core” muscles. If this muscle becomes weak or lacks coordination, incontinence is likely to occur. In addition to incontinence, the lack of stability from this core muscle decreases our stability and ability to tolerate challenges in balance. Additionally, when a person needs to get up multiple times a night to use the bathroom, they have an increased risk of falling due to drowsiness, darkness, and the rush to make it to the bathroom in time.
What can I do about this? The good news is that incontinence is a treatable condition with physical therapy. You can seek out your local pelvic health physical therapist who will teach you how to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and coordinate them with your other core muscles. This will increase strength and stability as well as decrease your risk of falls and help you live the dry life!
Tori Popp, DPT is a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic health for Orthopedic & Spine Therapy of Appleton and Menasha. She is passionate about treating incontinence in all ages pediatrics through geriatrics as well as other orthopedic conditions.