Sonya Lytwynec RegN, BScN
Michael J Borrie BSc, MD, ChB, FRCPC
Southwestern Ontario Regional Geriatric Program: Continence Outreach
Functional urinary incontinence is one of five types of incontinence.1 The assessment and therapeutic interventions associated with functional incontinence are reviewed in this fifth and final article of a five part series on urinary incontinence. Functional incontinence is defined as the involuntary loss of urine associated with the inability to use the toilet because of impairments of cognitive or physical functioning, psychological unwillingness or environmental barriers.2
The existence of urinary incontinence has been estimated at 15% to 35% in community dwelling people over 60 years of age, with twice the prevalence in women compared to men. The prevalence increases to 53% in homebound individuals, and is reported at 30% in acute care hospitals and 40% to 60% in longterm care institutions.3 A study of incontinent people receiving home care services (mean age 74) reported that a total of 89% had at least one functional disability (cognition, mobility, transferring in and out of bed or chair, or undoing garments). The incontinence was moderate to severe in 41% of the patients, and 95% of the family caregivers viewed the incontinence as a problem.4
Functional incontinence should be a diagnoses of exclusion.