Depression and Incontinence in Elderly Individuals

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Incontinence in elderly men and women can be a challenge to deal with. For many, it can be quite embarrassing and can cause varying degrees of stress. It also may be a contributing factor in the development of depression, although some theorize that depression might also play a role in developing incontinence. Whatever the case, there is reason to believe that incontinence in elderly individuals and depression may often occur simultaneously.

The Link

old man.jpgA number of studies have found evidence of this link between incontinence and depression. A 2006 Canadian study looked at data from 69,000 women. Of that cohort, 3% were found to have incontinence. When they looked at the rates of depression, they found that the overall group rate of depression was 9%; however, in the incontinent sub-group, the rate of depression was 15%.
A 2010 study found that men with incontinence were 2.6 times as likely to also experience depression as those who did not have incontinence.


Incontinence in elderly individuals often is accompanied by an emotional response of some sort. It may bring forth anger, shame, embarrassment, resentment, sorrow, or any number of other feelings. Incontinence is often a very tangible reminder that one is not in total control of one’s body, and this can make one experience aging in a negative manner.
Incontinence can also make an individual feel less likely to engage in social activities. Fear of embarrassment may force a person to stay at home instead of going out, or to avoid seeing friends. This isolation can also exacerbate feelings of depression, making the situation worse.
If a person is experiencing depression, it’s important to seek help from a qualified medical professional. Depression not only significantly affects quality of life and emotional/mental health; it can also lead to a worsening of physical health.
Incontinence in elderly men and women does not have to mean isolation and depression. Various strategies can be employed to help meet the challenges associated with incontinence, and proper help can have a positive impact on depression.
Writer, Craig Butler

Craig Butler has been writing on a wide range of topics for more than fifteen years. As the National Communications Director for the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Craig regularly writes on a range of health and medical topics. Among the many projects he has written for the Foundation is the Cooley's Anemia Storybook, a collection of original short stories for children with the blood disorder Cooley's Anemia. His freelance work has ranged from reviewing moves and CDs to creating entertainment-related stories about baldness, to creating text for comic strips. Craig looks forward to having a dialogue with you about senior care and issues of concern.

Christian & Claudia Steiner, Owners

We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior that could benefit from our vast array of home care services, including skilled nursing and wound care please call us at 212-614-8057 or email us. We accept all types of long term care insurance as payment. Best!


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