ABOUT FUNCTIONAL INCONTINENCE

Functional incontinence (also known as disability associated urinary incontinence) is when a person is unable to:

  • recognise the need to go to the toilet

  • locate the toilet
  • access the toilet

  • manage their personal needs (e.g. remove clothing)

  • recognise the toilet.

CAUSES

When someone has functional incontinence, it often means there is a physical, intellectual or environmental issue that makes it difficult for them to use the toilet.

Some of the causes of functional incontinence include problems with walking (arthritis or cerebral palsy) and problems with memory or learning (such as dementia and intellectual disability).

tips FOR CARERS

The right approach depends on individual needs

There are many strategies that can be used to help someone with functional incontinence. The best approach will depend on what is preventing them achieving continence as well as their individual needs.

  • If there are physical barriers, toileting aids, easily removed clothing and wiping aids can help. Removing clutter, ensuring good lighting and mobility aids can also assist.
  • If there are cognitive barriers (e.g. dementia) ensure the toilet is visible using signs, pictures, and good lighting. Also take notice of any cues the person may give when they want to use the toilet (e.g. pulling at clothing, restlessness, etc.).

Knowing the person’s normal toileting routine will ensure help can be available at the right time.

SEEK HELP

Contact the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66. The National Continence Helpline is staffed by Nurse Continence Specialists who offer free and confidential information, advice and support. They also provide a wide range of continence-related resources and referrals to local services.

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Last Updated: Wed 26, Aug 2020
Last Reviewed: Mon 23, Mar 2020