Any marketing director in long-term care will tell you that urine kills. Not literally, but it will kill a facility’s move-in rate. Incontinence not only costs long-term care communities FTE's (full-time equivalents) but it also costs the home in occupancy rates. One source states, “Incontinence is one of the largest costs in senior housing communities. In 2000, it was estimated that incontinence cost the United States an estimated $19.5 billion, and that figure is steadily rising. Incontinence is not only a big financial burden, it also impacts directly older adults' quality of life.”
While a vigilant cleaning regimen and the proper use of incontinence aids such as adult diapers help to maintain the dignity of the resident and allow the marketing folks to tell their story, there may be a missing component to solving the incontinence puzzle. For any mothers out there, you already know about this missing piece. After having a baby we’re told to do Kegel exercises so we do not have those “little accidents.” The same holds true for seniors and there is even fitness equipment that is specifically designed to exercise those muscles that no one can see.
The first step in maintaining continence is to maintain older adults' functional abilities. Fitness equipment that is designed to strengthen the core and the bladder has been shown to reduce incontinence incidents by more than 50%.
So why are more homes not on the band wagon? It seems that they do not understand the words “life-cycle costing.” They see their existing fitness equipment and that it is either paid off, or soon to be paid off, and forget that the value of the reduced FTE’s required to manage incontinence are huge and would quickly show a return on their investment.
Designers need to be better educated that there are products out there that can increase not only the quality of life of residents but also increase the life of the facility’s finishes and allow a more home like feel with less use of Crypton fabrics.
There is also vibration technology out there that induces muscle stimulation to reduce incontinence. Apparently, this technology stimulates muscles at 25-27 Hz, which produces 1500 contact /relax cycles within a one-minute therapy session. Typical sessions are 2-3 minutes long twice a week.
Some of the machines are as low as $1000.00. This seems like a small price to pay considering all the benefits to be gained.