London 2006 -The first Global Forum on Incontinence

Theme for the first Global Forum on Incontinence was “The Ageing Barometer” and the topics were ageing, quality of life and care pressures seen through the eyes of one of the major medical issues for the elderly – incontinence.

Information exchange and lively debate were fuelled by the unique cross-discipline expertise of the delegates, implications of incontinence for individuals, family and society, as well as the need to break down the taboos surrounding the important issue in the global context of today’s ever-ageing population.

Professor Ian Milsom from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Sahlgrenska Academy at Göteborg University, set the scene with an overview of the social and economic impact imposed by today’s  increasingly elderly demography. 

Adapting to ageing – continuing care and strengthening support Chairman of the International Longevity Centre, Baroness Sally Greengross, described the principle  pressures facing elderly people such as maintaining dignity and independence, intergenerational  conflict and the stigma associated with ageing.

Issues of care from a societal, healthcare and family support perspective were discussed in two absorbing presentations by Prof Emily Grundy, Professor of Demographic Gerontology, at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Dr Kai Leichsenring coordinator of PROCARE, a project supported by the EU in its 5th Framework Programme. 

An intriguing insight into ageing was afforded by Joan Bakewell who talked about her experiences of old age from a personal perspective. Describing herself as “one of them” ( an old person), Ms Bakewell stressed that the old are not ill but equally open to learning, activity, joy and satisfaction in life as a younger person. “It does not have to be grim to be old,” she enlightened the audience. 

A whistle stop tour of quality of life (QoL) was conducted by Dr Con Kelleher, Obstetrics and Gynaecology Consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals Trust. QoL measurement was described as central to the assessment of patients with any form of lower urinary tract dysfunction. 

Prof Bo asserted her belief that there is a sound rationale for pelvic floor muscles training targeting the causes of incontinence. 

Surgery offers yet another treatment option for stress urinary incontinence and an overview of the methods available was presented by Prof Cardozo. 

Dr Alan Cottenden, Medical Physicist and Technical Director of the Continence and Skin Technology Group at University College London (UCL), focused his presentation on pads and in-dwelling catheters which account for the majority of the market and the bulk of users. Dr Cottenden stressed that, managing the problem to minimise impact on quality of life is equally as essential as medical treatment and surgical cure.