Health & Wellness Articles

Aging and its Effects on Your Bladder

As you get older, the bladder changes. The elastic tissue of the bladder walls may toughen and become less elastic, resulting in the need to go to the bathroom more often. Weakening of bladder muscles and pelvic floor muscles can also happen making it difficult for you to empty your bladder completely or cause you to lose bladder control (urinary incontinence/ leakage). In men, an enlarged or inflamed prostate also can cause difficult emptying the bladder and incontinence. Bladder problems are common and can disrupt day-to-day life.

Other factors that contribute to incontinence include being overweight, nerve damage from diabetes, certain medications, and caffeine or alcohol consumption.

What you can do:

To promote bladder and urinary tract health:

  • Go to the toilet regularly. Consider urinating on a regular schedule, such as every hour. Slowly, extend the amount of time between your toilet trips.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, lose excess pounds.
  • Don’t smoke. If you smoke or use other tobacco products, ask your doctor to help you quit.
  • Do Kegel exercises. To exercise your pelvic floor muscles (Kegel exercises),
    squeeze the muscles you would you use to stop passing gas. Try it for three seconds at a time, and then relax for a count of three. Work up to doing the exercise 10 to 15 times in a row, at least three times a day.
  • Avoid bladder irritants. Caffeine, acidic foods, alcohol and carbonated beverages can make incontinence worse.
  • Avoid constipation. Eat more fiber and take other steps to avoid constipation, which can worsen incontinence

Aging & Your Digestive System

What to expect with your digestive system

As we grow older, we can experience age-related changes to our body. One change is structural changes in the large intestine. This can result in constipation in older adults. Other factors that can affect the digestive system and cause constipation are a decrease or lack of exercise, not drinking enough fluids and a low-fiber diet. Medications, such as diuretics and iron supplements, and certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, also might contribute to constipation.

What you can do to prevent constipation

  • Eat a healthy diet. Make sure your diet includes high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit high-fat meats, dairy products and sweets, which might cause constipation.
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine. Regular physical activity can help prevent constipation.
  • Don’t ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. Holding in a bowel movement for too long can cause constipation.

If you experience frequent constipation symptoms, or it seems to last for a long time, talk with your doctor.

What to Expect as You Age

Bones, Joints and Muscles

With age, bones tend to shrink in size and density, weakening them and making them
more susceptible to fracture. You might even become a bit shorter. Muscles generally
lose strength, endurance and flexibility — factors that can affect your coordination,
stability and balance.

What you can do to promote bone, joint and muscle health

  • Get adequate amounts of calcium. The National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine recommends at least 1,000 milligrams (mg) of calcium daily for adults. The recommendation increases to 1,200 mg daily for women age 51 and older and men age 71 and older. Dietary sources of calcium include dairy products, broccoli, kale, salmon and tofu. If you find it difficult to get enough calcium from your diet, ask your doctor about calcium supplements.
  • Get adequate amounts of vitamin D. The recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 600 international units for adults up to age 70 and 800 IU for adults over 70. Many people get adequate amounts of vitamin D from sunlight. Other sources include tuna, salmon, eggs, vitamin D-fortified milk and vitamin D supplements.
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, tennis, climbing stairs and weight training can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss.

May we, like our patron, St. Brendan, trust joyfully in the guidance of our God and in the goodness of our fellow travelers.

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