FACE=”Arial”> Incontinence is a condition that not only affects a patient physically, but it can affect every facet of a patient’s life. It can be a problem that causes people to become self-conscious or embarrassed and it can interfere with quality of life by interfering with work, travel, or social activities. Increased awareness of this condition and open discussion of treatment options will help patients to seek treatment and this in turn, will help HME providers who have solutions for managing incontinence with the products they offer.
Incontinence is a condition that not only affects a patient physically, but it can affect every facet of a patient’s life. It can be a problem that causes people to become self-conscious or embarrassed and it can interfere with quality of life by interfering with work, travel, or social activities. Increased awareness of this condition and open discussion of treatment options will help patients to seek treatment and this in turn, will help HME providers who have solutions for managing incontinence with the products they offer.
Incontinence is a condition that not only affects a patient physically, but it can affect every facet of a patient’s life.
As defined by the International Incontinence Society, urinary incontinence “is a condition in which involuntary urine loss is a social or hygienic problem…” The term urinary incontinence may be used interchangeably with OverActive Bladder (OAB) which also includes the same frequency in urination and urinary urge.
Although most associate being incontinent with geriatric patients, it affects all ages and both sexes. Women, however, are twice as likely as men to be incontinent and it is estimated that 15 percent to 30 percent of people over the age of 60 who live at home, have this condition, according to the Bladder Health Council of the American Foundation for Urologic Disease.
It is estimated that more than 12 million Americans have incontinence and millions more suffer from an overactive bladder. Due to the sensitive nature of this condition, HME providers have a niche in the marketplace, where mass retailers may not be able to compete. By providing personalized service, HME providers can help consumers and their caregivers find the most appropriate products for each individual and facilitate open discussion about their condition.Simon Says
This is especially important given the fact that the number of people with incontinence is thought to be underreported. Current estimates may be low due to people who may be afraid to seek treatment options or those who mistakenly think it is a natural part of aging. Others do not know the treatment options that exist.
Causes of incontinence vary, but incontinence is treatable in most cases. Possible causes of incontinence include, urinary tract or vaginal infections, weakness of certain muscles, side effects of medication, constipation, a blocked urethra due to an enlarged prostate, diseases and disorders involving nerves or muscles and it results from some types of surgery.
Other causes that may have long lasting effects include overactive bladder, weakness of muscles, birth defects, an enlarged prostate, spinal chord injuries or birth defects.
Since the causes are so varied, incontinence also varies in its severity from person to person. Some may be able to seek treatment options such as behavioral therapy — pelvic muscle exercises, bladder training, dietary modifications, etc. — or perhaps surgery to correct the problem. For others whose condition is more severe, they may need products for lifelong maintenance of the condition.
Where incontinence cannot be cured, HME providers offer a number of absorbent products and devices to wear. One of the most common products is the adult diaper, but this won’t be the right product for every person. Some people may prefer a product that is more conducive to active lifestyles.
To help patients remain active manufacturers have developed undergarment pads with slimmer, more discreet designs. This design is preferred by more active patients as it allows them to move about more freely and to not feel weighted down by a heavier pad.
It is important for referral sources to know that there are other options for patients; this ensures that patients have a product they are comfortable with and are going to use. Manufacturers also offer products with varying levels of absorbency to accommodate each individual.
Many of the products are machine washable which helps customers from having to make repeated purchases of disposable products. Yet many customers may opt for disposable products as they tend to be more absorbent than washable products.
For patients in wheelchairs or wanting security at night, many companies offer underpads that can be placed directly on a wheelchair cushion or a bed.
It is estimated that over 12 million Americans have incontinence and millions more suffer from an overactive bladder.
Customers seek products with greater absorbency, products that prevent dryness and skin breakdown and economical factors.
Having the Niche
HME dealers can compete with mass retailers because they have the inside knowledge on the products they provide and they can direct customers to the products which would be ideal for their particular situation. In addition, they offer personalized service where a mass retailer falls may not be able to do so.
HME providers can provide information to incontinent people and caregivers, to assist them in making the right choices and they also provide one-on-one service to answer any questions or concerns.
Manufacturers utilize traditional marketing tools such as educational brochures and pamphlets that are distributed to the health care providers to make referrals to patients. Manufacturers often create marketing plans with HME providers to assist them in reaching and educating health care providers as well as patients.
Ending the Silence
A number of companies and organizations provide information to assist patients with treatment of urinary incontinence.
Through increased awareness of incontinence, consumers will become more informed on their condition and many of the available treatment options and products that are available.
- Hollister Inc., a global manufacturer of health care products, Libertyville, Ill. announced the formation of a Continence Awareness Program (Cap) to provide the general public with education and support about urinary incontinence.
The focus of CAP is to bring the message to the public that not treating incontinence is not only a personal health issue — often subjecting patients to such health problems as urinary tract infections, skin breakdown, hp fractures and avoidable admissions to hospitals — but also affects overall quality of life. CAP also lets the public know that the vast majority of those affected by urinary incontinence can be cured or improved through proven non-surgical treatments. For more information, visit their Web site at www.hollister.com.
- The National Association For Incontinence (NAFC), is a not-for-profit organization designed to improve the quality of life for people with incontinence. NAFC’s mission is to be the leading source of education, advocacy and support to the public and health care providers about the causes, prevention, diagnosis and treatment for incontinence.
NAFC has four publications and services to achieve its objectives:
- Quality Care – A quarterly newsletter that provides moral support and practical information.
- The Resource Guide – Products and services for incontinence, a directory of products and manufacturers which assists people in finding the most helpful products for their types of incontinence.
- Take Control Support Group Starter Kit – A complete kit including video to begin a patient support group.
- Pamphlets, audio/visuals and books designed to educate the general public and health care professionals.
Through increased awareness of incontinence, consumers will become more informed on their condition and many of the available treatment options and products that are available. With the population getting older, the incontinence market is expected to grow. HME dealers have the opportunity to reach out to this market with products that enable patients to live full and active lives.
For more information on NAFC visit their Web site at: www.nhafc.org.