Waterworks: coping with incontinence

Many of us go through bladder changes. Incontinence is a very common problem that affects millions of people of all ages. It can be distressing and embarrassing, but it is not an inevitable part of growing old.

Incontinence can be a sign of other problems (such as an enlarged prostate for men) so it’s very important to go and talk to your GP. You can often get treatment for the problem and prevent further issues from arising.

There are several types of urinary incontinence, including:

  • stress incontinence– urine leaks when your bladder is under pressure; for example, when you cough or even laugh.
  • urge incontinence– urine leaks as you feel a sudden, intense urge to pass urine, or soon afterwards.
  • overflow incontinence(chronic urinary retention) –  your bladder can’t empty fully, causing frequent leaking.
  • total incontinence– your bladder can’t store urine at all, so you pass urine constantly or have frequent leaking.

If you are incontinent, fear and embarrassment may stop you from going out and taking part in things. A large range of products is available including pads, clothing, bedding, mattresses and skin care. These products may help you feel more confident to go out and live a full life.(See help and support, below.)

If incontinence is stopping you from taking part in BEA trips or activities, please discuss confidentially with our Activities Coordinator Debbie, or Outreach Worker, Simon. Our venues have accessible toilets and, while we cannot offer personal care, we will do what we can to help you take part. Talk to us if you would like to find out how to get a PA (Personal Assistant.) to provide personal care. Our Extra Care Trips are local and short, designed for people who cannot be out for very long.

If fear of not having quick access to a toilet is preventing you from going out, you can get a key to locked, disabled access toilets through the National Key Scheme.

Help and support

 Your GP
Talk to your GP if you have any concerns about your bladder or your bowels.

Continence, urology and colorectal service (CUCS) (NHS)
Supports people living in Leeds with a bladder, bowel or stoma problem, or with incontinence. It’s best to see your GP first, but you can refer yourself to this service if you need to. They have incontinence nurses who can visit you and help with advice and practical support.
0113 843 3715

Age UK
Information and advice, by phone and online.
0800 055 6112

Bladder & Bowel UK
National charity offering information and support, including advice on continence products and services.
0161 607 8219

Bladder Health UK
National charity which supports people, and their families, with all forms of cystitis, overactive bladder and continence issues.
(Advice line 0121 702 0820

National Key Scheme
You can buy a key for £2.00 at any Leeds City Council One Stop Centre or Community Hub (such as on Hough Lane) that will open more than 9,000 locked, disabled access toilets in the UK.