Let’s face it – getting older is not always glamorous. As we age, we’re more likely to experience common problems such as weight gain and urinary incontinence. But there are solutions for when our bodies don’t work the way they used to. Here are some things you can do to kick back when aging rears its ugly head:
Problem: Urinary Incontinence
According to Dr. Richard N. Medley of First Urology, there are three basic types of this condition. Stress incontinence is a release of urine when coughing or straining puts pressure on weakened or damaged pelvic floor muscles. Urge incontinence is not making it to the bathroom in time when the bladder spasms or contracts suddenly and creates an urgent need to go, and mixed incontinence is a combination of the two. Women tend to experience incontinence more than men, especially the mixed type. An enlarged prostate that makes it difficult to fully empty the bladder is a common cause of incontinence in men.
Solution: Non-surgical Treatment
The least-invasive treatments for incontinence include Kegel exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles (you can find them by trying to stop urine flow mid-stream), biofeedback to retrain the bladder, and medications to relax the bladder or prostate, Medley says. Many of the medications used to relieve symptoms of urge incontinence can cause dry mouth and constipation, however. Your doctor can help you find the best option for you.
Solution: Surgical Intervention
The most common surgical treatment for stress incontinence involves using a mesh-like material to create an internal sling that supports the bladder. When the problem is caused by the prostate, micro waves can be used to shrink it from the inside, which is a less invasive procedure that can be performed in the doctor’s office, Medley says. If that isn’t enough, a surgical procedure called TURP (transurethral resection of the prostate) might be needed.
Problem: Weight Gain
An increasingly sedentary lifestyle, stress, age-related metabolism changes, aches and pains that make it difficult to exercise, and even side effects from certain medications can cause the number on the scale to creep up as you add more candles to your birthday cake. But shedding those extra pounds and keeping them off can greatly improve your health and overall quality of life and even let you get off many commonly prescribed medications, says Joan Weston, an RN at Floyd Memorial Weight Management Center.
Solution: Make Small Changes
When making food choices, learn to be a good label reader at the store and stay away from empty calories, Weston says. When eating out, look for grilled (not fried!) foods, ask for steamed vegetables, have them box up half your portion in the kitchen, or share your entrée. And get moving! Anything that moves your body through space counts as exercise, Weston says. Take a walk, dance in your kitchen, or do arm or leg exercises while watching TV.
Solution: Get With a Program
Talk to your doctor about your options, especially if you have underlying health conditions. Some people may benefit from physician-assisted programs that include medication or surgical intervention. Enlisting help from a nutritionist or joining a gym can also help keep you motivated. If your budget is tight, ask your physician about hospital-affiliated programs, Weston suggests, or look for free or low-cost options in your community, place of worship, or the local YMCA.