Journal of Gerontological Nursing

Clinical Outlook 

Silent No More: Elderly Women’s Stories of Living with Urinary Incontinence in Long-term Care

Cathy D. MacDonald, MN; Lorna Butler, PhD

Abstract

Urinary incontinence (UI) is a prevalent health issue affecting the quality of life of many elderly women living in long-term care. Minimal consideration has been given to understanding the lived experience from women’s perspectives. Using one-to-one interviews, this study explored elderly women’s experiences with UI while living in long-term care facilities. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis that revealed three themes related to the meaning of UI to the women, physical implications of UI, and institutional culture of UI in long-term care. Within these three themes, the women expressed common concerns. The results of this study provided information that could influence changes in nursing practice related to individualized UI care, empowering women experiencing UI, and dispelling ageism in long-term care. The study also suggests opportunities for improving health care education related to the quality of life of women who experience UI, and the need to make the experience more visible and openly discussed as a health issue rather than the traditional condition of aging.

Abstract

Urinary incontinence (UI) is a prevalent health issue affecting the quality of life of many elderly women living in long-term care. Minimal consideration has been given to understanding the lived experience from women’s perspectives. Using one-to-one interviews, this study explored elderly women’s experiences with UI while living in long-term care facilities. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis that revealed three themes related to the meaning of UI to the women, physical implications of UI, and institutional culture of UI in long-term care. Within these three themes, the women expressed common concerns. The results of this study provided information that could influence changes in nursing practice related to individualized UI care, empowering women experiencing UI, and dispelling ageism in long-term care. The study also suggests opportunities for improving health care education related to the quality of life of women who experience UI, and the need to make the experience more visible and openly discussed as a health issue rather than the traditional condition of aging.

ABSTRACT

Urinary incontinence (UI) is a prevalent health issue affecting the quality of life of many elderly women living in long-term care. Minimal consideration has been given to understanding the lived experience from women’s perspectives. Using one-to-one interviews, this study explored elderly women’s experiences with UI while living in long-term care facilities. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis that revealed three themes related to the meaning of UI to the women, physical implications of UI, and institutional culture of UI in long-term care. Within these three themes, the women expressed common concerns. The results of this study provided information that could influence changes in nursing practice related to individualized UI care, empowering women experiencing UI, and dispelling ageism in long-term care. The study also suggests opportunities for improving health care education related to the quality of life of women who experience UI, and the need to make the experience more visible and openly discussed as a health issue rather than the traditional condition of aging.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Ms. MacDonald is Assistant Professor, Saint Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Dr. Butler is Professor, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Address correspondence to Cathy D. MacDonald, MN, PO Box 5000, Saint Francis Xavier University, School of Nursing, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada, B2G-2W5; e-mail: cdmacdon@stfx.ca.

Authors

Ms. MacDonald is Assistant Professor, Saint Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Dr. Butler is Professor, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Address correspondence to Cathy D. MacDonald, MN, PO Box 5000, Saint Francis Xavier University, School of Nursing, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada, B2G-2W5; e-mail: cdmacdon@stfx.ca.

10.3928/00989134-20070101-05

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