Toilet problems and continence

2. What is incontinence?

Incontinence is the involuntary (not on purpose) leakage of urine or faeces, or both, known as ‘double incontinence’.

Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence may be a small occasional leak, a trickling after passing urine, or total loss of bladder control.

There are several different types of urinary incontinence. Probably the most common form in people with dementia is an overactive bladder. This gives the feeling of a sudden and intense need to go, and frequent urination.

Women are also at particular risk of a different type of urinary incontinence called stress incontinence. This is when a cough, sneeze or laugh causes a small leak of urine.

Faecal incontinence

Faecal incontinence may range from passing a small amount of faeces when breaking wind, to having no bowel control at all. Faecal incontinence is less common than urinary incontinence. It affects men and women about equally.