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Diagnosis and Treatment |

Incontinence in the Nursing Home

Joseph G. Ouslander, MD; and John F. Schnelle, PhD
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From the University of California, Borun Center for Gerontological Research, Los Angeles, California. Requests for Reprints: Joseph Ouslander, MD, Jewish Home for the Aging of Greater Los Angeles, 18855 Victory Boulevard, Reseda, CA 91335.

Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1995;122(6):438-449. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-122-6-199503150-00007
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Urinary and fecal incontinence are prevalent, disruptive, and expensive health problems in the nursing home population. Nursing home residents who are incontinent of urine should have a basic diagnostic assessment, including a focused history and bladder record, a targeted physical examination, a urinalysis, and a determination of postvoid residual urine volume done by catheterization or ultrasonography. Potentially reversible conditions, such as fecal impaction and drug side effects, should be identified and treated. Selected residents should have further urodynamic evaluation or other diagnostic tests. Prompted voiding, a simple, noninvasive behavioral intervention, is effective in managing daytime urinary incontinence in one quarter to one third of incontinent nursing home residents. If it is to be effective over a long period of time, this intervention must be targeted to those residents most likely to respond. Selected nursing home residents will benefit from other behavioral interventions, drug therapy, or surgery. Because of the morbidity associated with it, long-term catheterization should only be used for specific indications. Like urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence may be caused by potentially reversible conditions. After such conditions have been excluded, fecal incontinence can generally be managed effectively by avoiding fecal impaction and by using a systematic bowel-training protocol.


Grahic Jump Location
Figure 1.
Example of a record that is helpful in assessing incontinent nursing home residents and in following their response to intervention.
Grahic Jump Location




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