75% of nursing home residents are incontinent, care costs reach $5 billion annually, government report shows

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High incontinence rates among nursing home residents create emotional and financial burdens, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released Wednesday.

Nearly one-half of short-term nursing home residents and more than three-fourths of long-term residents could not completely control their bladder function or bowel movement two weeks before their assessment. Residents with ostomies or catheters were not considered incontinent. Those over age 85 were more likely to be incontinent than those between ages 65 and 74.

Among short-term residents, men experienced higher fecal incontinence; however, more women experienced higher urinary incontinence among long-term residents. For both short-term and long-term residents, a higher prevalence of urinary or fecal incontinence was found among residents who were black, those who were married, or who had less education.

The cost of urinary incontinence among institutionalized residents reached $5.3 billion in 2000, with the majority of costs from buying products such as incontinence pads or laundry services. The average annual cost of fecal incontinence amounted to $4,110 per person in 2010.

The research also showed an association between incontinence and the increased risk of declining mental health, depressive symptoms, higher risk for the onset of psychological distress and increased risk of falls. Chronic conditions such as diabetes and stroke, mobility impairment and cognitive impairment are associated with incontinence, among other interacting factors.

Researchers from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics derived the data from the 2009 Long Term Care Minimum Data Set.

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