Incontinence is a medical condition and set of diseases that affects between 4% and 8% of the population or the lives of almost 400 million people worldwide. The burden of incontinence is expected to grow due to an ageing population. Addressing the care needs of patients and improving continence care can contribute to an effective response to a range of social, economic and macro-economic challenges that all countries around the world are facing today. This includes population ageing, growing demands from chronic disease patients and the increasing pressure on health systems and resources.
Incontinence or being incontinent can refer to both urinary incontinence and faecal incontinence. Not all adult incontinence is the same. There are different causes for male incontinence, female incontinence, incontinence in older people and incontinence in children.
The number of people with urinary incontinence is significantly higher than those with Alzheimer’s, diabetes and stroke. Clinical consequences of poor incontinence care routines include pressure ulcers, urinary tract infections, falls and fractures, incontinence associated dermatitis, and depression.
The costs of incontinence
In 2008-2009, the estimated direct costs of incontinence care in Australia totalled (US) $1.1bn or approximately $51 per person and (US) $3.3.bn in Canada or $97 per person. In 2000, the total direct health care costs for urinary incontinence alone in the United States were estimated to be $13.7bn for community-dwelling adults ($18.6bn in 2013 dollars) or approximately $51 per person. This does not include the indirect costs due to loss of productivity of incontinence sufferers and their caregivers.
In Australia, the National Disability Insurance Scheme is forecast to spend $230 million per annum when the scheme is fully implemented on incontinence aids.