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Understanding incontinence in people with dementia

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Incontinence can be a side effect of dementia Incontinence can be a side effect of dementia

Studies indicate that there are between three and six million people with some degree of urinary incontinence in the UK,1 with around 3% of older people affected by faecal incontinence.2 Prevalence of both urinary and faecal incontinence increases with age, with urinary incontinence affecting around 39% of women over 60, and an estimated 30% of men over 65.3,4 Faecal incontinence affects an estimated one to 10% of adults with prevalence increasing beyond the age of 80.5,6

Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms that can include memory loss, problems with communication and reasoning, and mood changes. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia with the other main causes including vascular, frontotemporal and Lewy body dementia (see Box 1). Other causes are rarer and include Korsakoff's syndrome (associated with heavy drinking over prolonged periods), Huntington's disease and Creutz- feldt-Jakob disease.7

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