Incontinence Poverty: World Continence Week 20th – 26th June

You will no doubt have heard the term “period poverty” many times before, it being the issue of the lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints. It has come to the forefront of media attention in recent times due to the cost of living crisis – inflation is currently nearly 9% and very few people in employment have had salary increases to match this enormous rise in the cost of living. I have recently been made aware of another issue affecting many people, one that hasn’t received as much attention in the press, which I would like to help raise awareness of: incontinence poverty.

What is incontinence poverty?

Incontinence poverty is similar to period poverty, in that it is the issue of those affected by bladder and/or bowel incontinence being unable to buy incontinence pads and other products to help manage their problem. The knock on effect of this is a lower quality of life and other physical and mental problems. Imagine facing the choice of deciding whether to purchase the correct incontinence products to meet your needs vs being able to eat and heat your home.

I was shocked to learn that incontinence products cost those affected £1,800 on average per year. The current UK state pension is just over £10,000 a year. As incontinence is common amongst the elderly, it is easy to see what a huge issue this is.

Who is affected by incontinence poverty?

Unsurprisingly, the problem of incontinence poverty disproportionately affects those who can least afford it, namely the elderly. But the issue of incontinence is widespread and can affect any demographic. 1 in 10 adults in the United Kingdom are affected by bowel incontinence, and approximately 34% of women are living with urinary incontinence. As I know myself, urinary incontinence is very common after childbirth.

My experience with incontinence

I myself found myself having to briefly rely on bladder incontinence products after my difficult second birth and I remember being shocked at how quickly the costs racked up. After consulting with my GP, I was fortunate in that I was able to resolve my incontinence problem by performing pelvic floor exercises, but for a lot of people, incontinence can be a long term condition.

I was very lucky in that I was able to afford suitable products to help me with my problem. I can only imagine the embarrassment, the lack of confidence and the lack of comfort I would suffer if I was forced to come up with a makeshift solution.

What is being done about incontinence poverty?

A new initiative is addressing this issue by distributing essential incontinence products free of charge to people in need and their carers. Complete Care Shop have secured £150k of incontinence products which they are distributing – visit Complete Care Shop to place an order whilst stocks last, up to two orders per household. Alternatively call Complete Care Shop on 01772 675 048 to place an order.

I would also encourage any one suffering from incontinence not to suffer in silence – your GP and Age UK are two valuable sources of support and information

This post is in conjunction with Complete Care Shop, but all thoughts and opinions are my own


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