Reaching out to the incontinence community
Although over 5 million Australians have bowel or bladder control problems, incontinence can be an isolating experience. Connecting with others through online forums or support groups can help you feel less alone.
While continence aids and products assist with the day-to-day management of continence issues, incontinence isn’t something most people feel comfortable talking about. However, it's much more common than many people realise, which means many people experience the same issues. Reaching out to those in a similar situation can provide comfort.
You may just want the peace of mind that comes with sharing your feelings with others. You may have questions about incontinence that you want answered. You may simply want to feel better informed about what services and products are available or understand how incontinence might be prevented.
People need to talk about it and understand they’re not alone. There are a lot of people out there who have the same issues.
Continence Foundation of Australia (CFA) advocates for the interests of all Australians affected by, or at risk of, bladder and bowel control problems.
There are several resources that are provided: from articles or videos to service providers in each state.
Connecting with others in your local area
To find out about support groups and events in your local area, reach out to your local continence nurse.
Most major public hospitals, continence clinics and some private continence wards have a continence nurse on site. As well as providing advice and care, your continence nurse may be able to suggest support groups in your area you can join. Continence Foundation Australia also offers groups and information sessions specifically for those who are caring for someone who has continence issues.
Connecting online and on the phone
Some people prefer the anonymity and ease of connecting with others and asking questions virtually, either online through forums and social media, or over the phone.
These spaces are useful for questions that people don’t want to bother their doctor with, or because they feel embarrassed by it.
Facebook: Facebook can be a great space to connect with others because you're already there! The CFA has its own Facebook page, as do other continence organisations from around the world. There are also several private groups dedicated to general incontinence issues, bowel or bladder issues, or specific issues (such as bedwetting) or conditions. Simply search ‘incontinence’, ‘bowel’ or ‘bladder’ or the relevant issue or condition under the Groups tab.
National Continence Helpline: For people who prefer to talk to someone over the phone, this free advisory service offers incontinence information, education, and advice. Anyone in Australia with incontinence, or caring for someone with incontinence, can call 1800 33 00 66 to talk to a continence nurse advisor. The service is available 8am-8pm (AEST) Monday to Friday. The Helpline is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.
You can call Helpline for advice on topics including:
- prevention of bladder and or bowel problems
- women – pregnancy, prolapse and menopause
- men – prostate, after dribble
- children – toilet training, bedwetting, daytime wetting, soiling
- medical conditions such as diabetes, dementia, stroke, arthritis and Parkinson’s
- funding schemes
- continence product advice.
Attending a conference or a seminar, joining a support group, or reaching out to others over the phone or online can provide emotional support, as well as advice and information. You don't have to go through it alone.