Overactive bladder syndrome in older people

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The overactive bladder symptom complex (OAB) is the commonest cause of urinary incontinence in older people, and is usually due to underlying detrusor overactivity, and as such is a treatable condition. Older people are a heterogeneous group, which includes fit community-dwelling individuals and those with significant medical comorbidity; thus the requirements of care for this group are many and varied. The International Continence Society definition of the frail elderly, those aged >65 years with continence problems, who by virtue of comorbidity are house-bound or living in an institution, is clearly not applicable to all. However, many conditions begin to appear in later life and practitioners need to be aware of the need to manage these, and their treatment, when dealing with older people. Studies of medication for OAB have included the elderly and there is evidence of an equivalent benefit in younger people. The impact of treatment on the cognitively impaired and those receiving acetylcholinesterase inhibitors is discussed.

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