Surprising News About Incontinence and Senior Sex


Most seniors expect to be incontinent. We prepare for it, become resigned to it, and think that is just the way life is as we get older.

Now, thanks to new research, new treatment protocols and a growing need, that isn’t necessarily true, and doesn’t need to be true for you.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Lizanne Pastore, PT, MA, COMT, a physical therapist in San Francisco who now specializes in pelvic floor dysfunction in men and women. When she sees clients in person, she assesses the muscular tone, strength, flexibility and endurance overall, as well as a conducting a thorough pelvic floor assessment. Plus, she closely assesses her patients back, hips, and other regions of their bodies. Pelvic floor dysfunction can involve the whole body, says Ms Pastore.

The impetus for this interview was several questions I’ve received from readers who had the courage to ask what they could do about incontinence, not just for the inconvenience of the problem, but also how it was affecting their sex life. They wanted to know if incontinence was normal, and to be expected as we get older.

In the interests of transparency, I want to say Lizanne was the physical therapist who facilitated my walking again after a bad fall. So, I know her well, and have been very impressed with her training and commitment to her clients.

When I suggested that many seniors consider some level of incontinence normal, she set me straight.

Lizanne said that while society deems it pretty much normal for incontinence to occur as we get older, this doesn’t mean it’s normal, or even okay.

And, physical therapists now have the tools to treat incontinence, so it really is a shame that so many people remain incontinent when they really don’t need to. She went on to say that although there are many changes in our bodies with aging, with proper care and training, we don’t have to remain incontinent.

Especially when you consider the costs. Incontinence, she said, is a 28 billion dollars a year problem. These costs include direct medical costs for urinary tract infections, skin break down when people are incontinent, longer hospital stays, needing to be admitted to a skilled medical facility, as well as the non medical costs of incontinence pads, laundry, and care taking.

She told me there are as many brands of incontinence pads as there are tooth paste.

I had a hard time believing there could be that many. So, I checked our local big drug store. It was amazing how many kinds of supplies and accessories there were. The manager told me that many older people buy their supplies on line just so they can have them delivered, and not have to carry the bulky packages home.

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