If you're over the age of 65 and grappling with incontinence, the government has some potentially reassuring news for you: You're basically normal. A report released yesterday by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics tracks "the prevalence and the magnitude" of bladder and bowel incontinence and finds nearly 51% all US seniors who live at home suffer from it. Some 44% reported urinary leakage, and 17% bowel leakage (some people experience both); 25% have moderate, severe, or very severe urinary cases, HealthDay News reports. Women are much more likely to suffer from it, due to loss of muscle control following childbirth and declining estrogen levels after menopause. In men, incontinence can be caused by prostate problems or nerve damage.
The report also gathered data on incontinence among nursing home, residential care, and hospice facility residents (though it notes that different definitions of incontinence were used for the various populations). Nearly 76% percent of long-term nursing home residents couldn't completely control bladder or bowel function 14 days prior to the survey, the Washington Post adds. Experts hope the study will diminish the stigma attached to discussing the problem, which can be treated with diet, drugs, and surgery. HealthDay shares some costs associated with the condition: In 2010, bowel incontinence sufferers spent an estimated $4,100 apiece dealing with their issue. (Another possible factor? Spanx.)