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"We stay together - in good times and bad."

Millions of people around the world are affected by urinary tract disorders and incontinence. Barb, the protagonist of our Annual Report, has experienced what that means for those affected and their families: she cared for her mother-in-law for many years.

Contrary to all clichés, Barb had a particularly close relationship with her mother-in-law. "I've always admired LaVonne: a bold, cheerful woman who enjoyed life. She learned to drive a car at age 68. And when I think of her, I usually remember her cooking: cooking made her happy. LaVonne, standing in her kitchen and preparing a turkey."

In the last years of her life, however, there was no thought of cooking, nor of camping: precisely on her 80th birthday, LaVonne had a stroke. Parts of her brain were irreparably damaged. She could no longer walk, could hardly speak, chew or swallow. She could no longer control her bladder, either, and had a catheter for that reason. She had to be artificially fed, her clothes, diapers and sheets changed for her, bathed, moved – for eleven years. Especially for LaVonne herself, but also for her family, it was not an easy time. 

"Her husband Marv was already 83 at the time, but he took care of her at home for eleven long years. Because I was with LaVonne four days a week during the final months, I know how hard and difficult this work was." When LaVonne died, in the spring of 2017, it was a release for her and for her family.

„I often think of her. How her eyes twinkled when she looked at her great-grandchildren. And, of course, how lovingly her husband Marv took care of her. Every single second of every single day. We often suggested that he put LaVonne in a nursing home. But it was not even a question for Marv. There was only one answer for him: We stay together – in good times and bad.“

It's not only stroke patients who are affected by urinary incontinence, but millions of people around the entire world – for a wide variety of reasons. In the USA, 14 percent of all men suffer from urinary incontinence – and 51 percent of all women. Women are more often affected due to their anatomy. For reasons of shame, however, many people do not talk about their suffering and therefore do not learn that modern medicine offers many solutions – some of them remarkably simple. This is where the World Continence Week comes in. With global campaigns and events, it aims to call attention to the subject of incontinence and to embolden people to talk about their symptoms, to obtain valuable information and to seek out specific help.