The prevalence of both urinary and faecal incontinence, and also chronic constipation, increases with ageing and these conditions have a major impact on the quality of life of the elderly. Management of bladder and bowel dysfunction in the elderly is currently far from ideal and also carries a significant financial burden. Understanding how these changes occur is thus a major priority in biogerontology. The functions of the bladder and terminal bowel are regulated by complex neuronal networks. In particular neurons of the spinal cord and peripheral ganglia play a key role in regulating micturition and defaecation reflexes as well as promoting continence. In this review we discuss the evidence for ageing-induced neuronal dysfunction that might predispose to neurogenic forms of incontinence in the elderly.