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Faecal Incontinence in Advanced Dementia: The Nursing Role
  1. Nykki Hetherton, Community Mental Health Nurse
  1. Mental Health Older Adults North Lewisham Community Team, Lewisham, London. Email: nicola.hetherton{at}


Faecal incontinence is one of the prognostic indicators for the terminal stages of dementia. However, there is minimal information on this distressing symptom in the context of cognitive decline. Faecal incontinence in dementia is often under-reported, under-estimated and poorly assessed and managed, despite being a potentially treatable condition. It has a profound negative impact on the quality of life of people with dementia as well as their informal carers. It also has been found to lead to unwanted admission to care homes. People with dementia and their informal carers may be too embarrassed to bring up the subject of faecal incontinence with health professionals. Nurses are ideally situated to discuss the issue of faecal incontinence with people with dementia and their informal carers, undertake initial assessments and provide advice regarding potential management strategies. This article explores the topic of faecal incontinence in the context of people with dementia. It examines possible causes and risk factors of faecal incontinence in people with dementia, as well as assessment and management strategies. Conflicts of interest: none

  • Carer burden
  • Dementia
  • Faecal incontinence
  • Nursing role
  • Terminal decline

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