Objective: To describe the causes, evaluation, and management of urinary incontinence in the elderly population. Design: We reviewed pertinent articles in the medical literature and summarized the types of incontinence and contributing factors. Results: Urinary incontinence is common in elderly patients and often has a major role in determining whether a person can remain independent in the community or requires nursing home placement. Urinary incontinence is not a single entity but rather several different conditions, each with specific symptoms, findings on examination, and recommended treatment. Thus, accurate classification is important for appropriate management. Because of the complexity of urinary incontinence, many physicians are uncomfortable with undertaking assessment and treatment. Hence, many patients are not asked about incontinence, and the condition remains untreated and often considered a natural consequence of the aging process. Urinary incontinence can be treated and either cured or alleviated with treatment. Conclusion: Elderly patients should be asked about symptoms of urinary incontinence because appropriate assessment and treatment can usually provide relief.
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