Is incontinence a laughing matter?

The crew at Continence Foundation of Australia are at it again making light of the ‘little accidents’ of those unfortunate enough to be unable to ‘hold on’.

Today is the start of World Continence Week and Continence Foundation of Australia says it will be “using humour to overcome the stigma of incontinence and get people talking about their bladder and bowel troubles”.

“We are asking people to share your own personal continence story in living with incontinence or caring for someone who does,” the foundation’s website implores.

If estimates are correct, about 21 per cent, or 5.25 million, of Australians currently have problematic bladders and bowels.

About 70 per cent of that cohort lives in residential care, which leaves almost a third of other sufferers living in the community and managing their own continence issues.

Continence Foundation Australia has enlisted comedy queen of continence Bev Killick as an ambassador and the face of its latest campaign, Laugh Without Leaking.

And while a little toilet humour may help to ‘normalise’ incontinence, the cost to society of dealing with the issue is quite serious. Deloitte Access Economics reported that in 2010, the total financial cost of incontinence, including the burden of disease, was $66.7 billion, or approximately $14,000 per sufferer. The estimated costs are broken down thus:

  • $270.8 million for health system costs
  • $34.1 billion for productivity losses
  • $1.6 billion for residential aged care costs
  • $2.7 billion for informal carer costs
  • $321 million for indirect costs, such as aids and formal carers
  • $3.8 billion for losses from transfers and lost taxation.
  • $23.8 billion for the burden of disease.

During World Continence Week, there will be events, talks, activities, displays and performances around Australia. The foundation suggests those interested should keep an eye on its page for more information.

If you would like support or to share your story, jump on the Continence Support Forum, where Yazzie, a continence nurse consultant, acts as moderator. If you have any questions, call the free helpline on 1800 33 00 66. If you need help paying for pads and aids, check out the funding schemes for continence products.

Will you take up the foundation’s challenge to discuss continence issues? Do you feel there is a lack of support for sufferers of bladder and bowel conditions?

Related articles:
Continence resources
Incontinence for dummies
Surprise fixes for leaky bladders

Written by Olga Galacho

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