Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Incontinence and dementia

1-minute read

Incontinence can be very upsetting for the person you care for. It can also be difficult for you to deal with. But it's important to be understanding, keep a sense of humour and remember that it's not their fault.

If the person you care for becomes incontinent, it’s important for them to see their doctor. Incontinence can be due to a treatable medical cause, such as a urinary tract infection, or it may indicate a more serious cause such as prostatic disease.

A person with dementia may also simply forget to go to the toilet or they may forget where the toilet is. They may have lost the ability to tell when they need the toilet.

There are many ways to help with managing incontinence in a person with dementia. You could try;

  • putting a clear sign on the toilet door, such as a photo of the toilet
  • keeping the toilet door open and making sure that the person you care for can access it easily
  • making sure they can remove their clothes – some people with dementia can struggle with buttons and zips so you can simplify their clothing with Velcro or elastic waistbands
  • looking out for signs that they may need to go to the toilet, such as fidgeting and standing up and down
  • installing some bathroom aids such as a raised toilet seat and wall-grab bars to help them get on and off the toilet
  • helping the person decide about using continence products.

Last reviewed: November 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Q&A: Dementia and incontinence Dementia Continence Foundation of Australia

Continence Foundation of Australia

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Urinary incontinence: About incontinence: Dr Joe Kosterich | myVMC

Dr Joe Kosterich talks about causes of urinary incontinence, such as pregnancy or dementia, and ways of preventing and managing urinary incontinence.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Dementia Australia | Personal care

Continence This page explains incontinence and some of the reasons that it may occur in people with dementia. It suggests ways that families and carers can manage the problem. Read more.

Read more on Dementia Australia website

Normal pressure hydrocephalus information | myVMC

Normal pressure hydrocephalus is a brain disorder. Symptoms include dementia, urinary incontinence and gait changes.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Useful links Get help Continence Foundation of Australia

Continence Foundation of Australia

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Incontinence and continence problems

Many things can be done to manage, treat and sometimes cure incontinence and continence problems.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Dementia Australia | Continence

What is incontinence? Incontinence is the loss of control of the bladder and/or bowel function. Our brains send messages to our bladder and bowel telling them when it is necessary to empty them. Being in control of these functions depends upon awareness of bodily sensations such as the feeling of having a full bladder, and the memory of how, when and where to respond. When there is a decline of intellect and memory as a result of dementia, incontinence may occur.

Read more on Dementia Australia website

Dementia: behavioural and psychological symptoms -

Along with loss of memory and intellectual function, dementia can cause symptoms such as changes in behaviour and mood.

Read more on myDr website

Who can help? Caring for someone with incontinence Continence Foundation of Australia

Continence Foundation of Australia

Read more on Continence Foundation of Australia website

Medicines and dementia: other conditions | NPS MedicineWise

People with dementia may experience other medical problems or conditions that could be related to dementia. Find out about how these conditions may be managed.

Read more on NPS MedicineWise website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo