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Incontinence affects the lives of many seniors and their caregivers. 

This can be a difficult and emotion-filled problem to deal with. Seniors who are suffering from incontinence can also suffer with guilt, shame, and resentment over the loss of control. Caregivers face the daily task of helping to care for a loved one who has this problem. While there are no easy solutions for incontinence, there are things that can be done to help lessen the problem. One of the things that have been found to affect incontinence is diet.

There are steps that caregivers can take to modify the diet of the senior in their care to help with the issue of incontinence. Here is what you need to know about how diet affects incontinence:

There is no diet to cure incontinence

Some people have the mistaken assumption that if they eat certain things, the incontinence will go away. This is simply not true. However, there are certain dietary matters you should know about. Researchers have found that there are some foods and beverages that seem to contribute to bladder leakage. While their effect on the bladder is not always understood, you may want to try eliminating one or more of the items listed below to improve bladder control:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Carbonated beverages (with or without caffeine)
  • Milk or milk products
  • Coffee or Tea (even decaffeinated)
  • Medicines with caffeine
  • Citrus juice & fruits
  • Tomatoes
  • Tomato-based products
  • Highly spiced foods
  • Sugar
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Chocolate
  • Corn syrup
  • Artificial sweeteners

It can be helpful to eliminate one item at a time, to see if there is improvement. This is because not all of the items on this list contribute toward incontinence to the same degree for every person. Identifying particular triggers for your elderly loved one is a key to helping to control incontinence.

Drinking less will not solve the problem.

Many people have the mistaken assumption that if their elderly loved one just drinks less then incontinency will not be a problem. In addition, seniors who have bladder control problems may try to reduce the amount of liquids they drink in the hope that they will need to urinate less often. The reality is that less liquid through the mouth does result in less liquid in the form of urine – however, the smaller amount of urine may be more highly concentrated and thus become more irritating to the bladder surface.

Worse yet, the plan actually backfires since highly concentrated (dark yellow, strong smelling) urine may cause you to go to the bathroom more frequently. This also encourages the growth of bacteria, and when bacteria begins to grow, infection sets in and more severe incontinence may be the result. You should never restrict fluids to control incontinence without the advice of your physician. It is crucial to always follow your doctor’s instructions.

Take a look at the medications

Many seniors take several medications. Many medications alone can contribute to incontinence, and often drug interaction can also bring on incontinence. It is important to address this issue with the senior’s physician to determine if medications are contributing to incontinence – and if they are, determining what changes need to be made to lessen or eliminate the problem.

Even with dietary changes, incontinence may still continue to be a major issue in the care of your senior. But taking steps to minimize the issue will be helpful for the senior and caregiver alike.


About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.

Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.