Promoting Continence

Having bladder and bowel issues can be distressing for a person with dementia and upsetting for those around them. However, although it can be an issue for people, it is a surprisingly common one, and the good news is that there is plenty of help out there.

Bladder and Bowel Symptoms?

Bladder and bowel symptoms are not an inevitable symptom of dementia, but there are a number of reasons why someone with dementia could have issues. These include various medical conditions, a number of which are treatable.

Medical Causes Include:

  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) usually respond to treatment with medication
  • Prostate gland trouble affects men and may be resolved with an operation or treatment
  • Side-effects of medication can be addressed by the GP
  • Constipation can put pressure on the bladder and can also lead to faecal incontinence. Improving Nutritional Intake including eating foods that are high in fibre, drinking plenty of fluids and keeping physically active can help prevent this

Non-medical Causes Include:

  • Forgetting to go to the toilet
  • Not recognising the need to go to the toilet
  • Forgetting where the toilet is
  • Poor environment including inadequate Lighting and lack of Contrast between the toilet seat and the surrounding area


SPHERE (Supporting Pelvic Health through Empowerment, Rehabilitation and Education) Bladder and Bowel Service, provides a professional, caring, confidential and supportive approach to people with bladder or/and bowel symptoms. The aim is to promote continence by empowering individuals to self manage symptoms by teaching behavioural and lifestyle changes that can promote bladder and bowel health. The team also work with people experiencing dysfunctional bladder and bowel problems. The service has two specially trained teams with the north team covering East Dunbartonshire clinics in Milngavie or Kirkintilloch.  Home assessment for those who require this can also be provided. These teams include specialist nurses and physiotherapists who can advise and support people to improve bladder or/and bowel symptoms or prevent any deterioration by facilitating and providing rehabilitative treatments. Referral to the service is made by the GP.

Other supports are available through Carers Link and Alzheimer Scotland which offer training courses in continence management for carers.

Further Information

Read more in Continence management – Advice for Carers of People with Dementia from Alzheimer Scotland.

Continence issues can be distressing but it is important to discuss your concerns as help is available, The Name’s Noone….Archie Noone is a short film funded by the Care Inspectorate in an attempt to remove some of the stigma around discussing continence issues.