A staggering 1 in 4 Australians today live with incontinence. For women, particularly those who have ever had a baby, the statistics are even higher, climbing to 1 in 3 mums.
“I am one of those women, as is my 26-year-old daughter and 80-year-old mother,” said Jacinta Crickmore, Continence Foundation of Australia Board Director and Chair of the Consumer Advisory Committee.
“My worst nightmare is the queue at the theatre, when it’s out the door and you’re thinking ‘Oh my gosh, how am I going to last until I can actually get to the toilet’. Or at the grocery store! I’ve actually had to leave my groceries in the trolley, in the store, and rush to the toilet.”
Today, Jacinta can laugh when sharing those anecdotes but the reality of living with incontinence is often no joking matter.
“It really affects my life. I’ve got two grandchildren who would love for me to jump on the trampoline with them, and I can’t because I can’t jump without leaking. And I can’t laugh without leaking,” she said.
Jacinta is sharing her personal story as part of the Continence Foundation’s Laugh Without Leaking campaign in the hope that other mothers, daughters and grandmothers will be inspired to talk about this taboo topic and seek help.
“I want to get the message out that it’s not normal to leak and if people start doing pelvic floor exercises every day, then it can potentially be significantly reduced and, in many cases, even cured.”
Jacinta has been on both sides of the continence world - first on the industry side whilst working in healthcare sales, and then through her lived experience with incontinence.
“So many people think it is normal, particularly after you’ve had a baby or as you get older. Leaking is NOT normal and can have serious long term physical and mental health implications.”
As Chair of the Foundation’s Consumer Advisory Committee, she is passionate about making sure people impacted by incontinence are heard.
“Incontinence happens to people of any age, both male and female. It is one of the main reasons people enter aged care. Thinking of the Royal Commission into Aged Care happening right now, there are many sad and undignified stories of poor continence care of vulnerable seniors being reported. The good news is that you are never too old – or young - to start strengthening your pelvic floor with daily exercises to help prevent incontinence or regain control,” said Jacinta.