skip to main content

Incontinence affects both women and men.

For women, pregnancy, childbirth and being overweight can weaken the pelvic muscles. For men, prostate surgery can weaken pelvic muscles. For both genders the natural process of aging, can weaken pelvic muscles. Incontinence often occurs as the pelvic muscles get weak. Pelvic muscles help stop the flow of urine. There are many reasons why this happens. The good news is that...

Pelvic muscles are just like other muscles, which means that exercises can make them stronger. Studies have shown that seniors who are experiencing incontinence can gain better control of these muscles by doing pelvic muscle exercises known as Kegels.

Incontinence can be an inconvenient, uncomfortable, and even embarrassing medical condition, but this condition can often be treated using one or more of several non-surgical methods. As a caregiver to an elderly loved one, it becomes important to understand the methods that can improve incontinence. One of the best and easiest ways is by exercising weak pelvic muscles.

The most common form of pelvic muscles exercise is known as the Kegel. This exercise was developed in 1948 by Dr. Arnold Kegel as a way to treat incontinence in women after childbirth. Kegels improve urethral and rectal sphincter control, by strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor.

To begin, the person must find the right muscles and reduce the chance of contracting the abdominal or thigh muscles. This can be done by sitting on the toilet, and beginning to urinate. They should then try to stop the flow of urine midstream, by tightening their pelvic floor muscles.

To perform pelvic floor exercises Kegels:

  • Begin by emptying your bladder.
  • Tighten the pelvic floor muscles and hold for a count of 10.
  • Relax the muscle completely for a count of 10.
  • Do 10 exercises, 3 times a day (morning, afternoon, and night).

It should be noted that these exercises can be performed at any time, and any place. Most people prefer to do the exercises while lying down, or sitting in a chair. You should keep in mind that most people notice some improvement after four to six weeks, but it may take as long as three months to see a major change. There is a word of caution, however, over-exercising can cause muscle fatigue and increase urine leakage.

Experts caution that this type of therapy is "slow going", and must be done several times a day, for a long time, to achieve any sort of results. The good news is that pelvic muscle exercises have been shown to improve mild, to moderate, urge, and stress incontinence. When they are performed correctly, these exercises can help strengthen the muscles that support the bladder. Through regular exercise, those suffering from incontinence can build control, and endurance, to help improve, regain, and maintain, bladder and bowel control

Caregivers can encourage and support the use of pelvic muscle exercises, to improve incontinency. However, the bottom line is that the senior suffering from incontinence must be willing to perform the exercises on a daily basis. Because the exercises to improve pelvic muscle strength will have to be done over a long period of time, caregivers must determine the best ways to deal with the incontinence, in the meantime.

(This article originally appeared on the CareGiver Partnership blog)


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.