While incontinence of any form can be embarrassing, uncomfortable and an unpleasant chore. Before running for the medicine cabinet, take a look at eliminating food culprits.

Foods and drinks that can contribute to incontinence:

  • Limit the use of acidic foods and drinks. Acid irritates the lining of the bladder causing incontinence. While many use cranberries to prevent urinary tract infection, the acidity of cranberries as well as many other fruits can contribute to incontinence. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons, grapefruit and even pineapple are acidic. Other fruits can be acidic as well, and it pays to practice elimination, to identify the troubling fruit.
  • Chocolate is also an acidic food, while also containing caffeine, this increases the connection to incontinence. A good alternative is white chocolate which doesn’t contain the caffeine.
  • Any bubbly beverage, can increase the chance of incontinence.  Alcohol as well is known to contribute to incontinence. The combination of alcohol and carbonation increases the incidence of incontinence.
  • When it comes to a beverage, cola, tea, those fizzy drinks and of course coffee are the most well know causing incontinence. Switching to low acidic drinks while avoiding sugar and sugar substitutes can reduce incontinence.
  • Even more forms of acidic foods are those with a tomato base, spicy foods and condiments.

While you are identifying the type of incontinence and the food/drink trigger, using incontinence products is important. Keeping clean and dry during this time of investigation will lead to a better outcome. The longer a person is incontinent the longer it will take to reverse the problem.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing


Grandma Lucy always has a big smile on her face. She is already in the late stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Grandma no longer talks or seems to understand what others are saying to her. She now needs total assistance bathing, dressing and eating.  Yet, Grandma Lucy can still walk and while she cannot go through the many steps of dressing. Once dressed she is able to pull down her slacks, as well as  incontinent brief, and then go to the bathroom.

The problem arises because Grandma no longer can identify the correct place to toilet. When she feels the urge to go to the bathroom, any flat surface she can sit on, will do. She no longer plans or anticipates that she will be needing a bathroom. In the moment when she feels the urge, she answers the call in a public place, secret place, anywhere she finds an opportunity to sit.

Missing the toilet, and using either another object such as a waste basket, or a flat surface such as a chair, sofa, or recliner is common, in a dementia unit, in a nursing home setting. Especially common, for those elderly who continue to be able to walk independently. Grandma Lucy always was a great walker, and has continued to be able to walk, even though now she walks without a destination. She just appears to be wandering as she keeps retracing her steps, all day long.

But contrary to the many who are no longer this active, she has no problems with constipation. On the contrary, Grandma is as regular as clock work. And this fact provides the solution for Grandma’s problem.

When a confused elder like Grandma Lucy can’t plan or anticipate needing to use a toilet, the caregiver needs to provide this service. Her caregiver knows that Grandma Lucy has a bowel movement everyday, about a half hour after breakfast.  As many people know, having a cup of hot coffee in the morning, and chewing breakfast, stimulates the colon and bowel.

Now the caregiver keeps a close eye on Grandma Lucy after breakfast, and right on time walks her to the bathroom. Grandma Lucy is now greeted with smiles and welcome during her wanderings instead of looks of suspicion.

Virginia Garberding RN

Certified in Gerontology and Restorative Nursing