How to Choose the Best Adult Diaper

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Absorbent products, sometimes called "adult diapers" help caregivers to manage incontinence in their eldery parents. Absorbent products are not a treatment of incontinence, but rather a management tool.

If your parent has incontinence, it is always important to speak to a medical professional so that they can properly diagnose incontinence and rule out any serious underlying cause, and help you find the treatment option that works best for your parent. Sometimes there may not be an appropriate treatment option available that can lessen or even cure incontinence in the elderly.

Finding the Right Product

There are many factors to consider when choosing an absorbent product: flexibility for your parent's activity level; products for men or for women; size; absorbency level; disposable vs. reusable.

Take all these factors into consideration when looking for a product. You might even find that one product is best for at night, another for during the day, and a third for being out and active, like going for walks.

Try not to look at the price tags first and instead choose based on your needs. You might even find that a more expensive product will give you better coverage and thus cost you less in the long run.

About "Booster Pads"

Booster pads can be purchased as liners for absorbent briefs, increasing the absorbency and protection. It's important to note that unlike regular pads, boosters don't have a waterproof backing. After the booster fills to capacity, the overflow will flow thru to the absorbent brief beneath.

About Skin Care

Keeping the skin that comes into contact with urine or a bowel movement clean and dry is important. When changing absorbent products wash the perineal area with mild soap (not deodorant) and warm water, then pat the skin dry (do not rub). Application of a skin ointment can further protect the skin.

Avoid Using Menstrual Pads

Many women use menstrual pads when they begin to experience incontinence. Menstrual pads aren't designed to absorb urine and don't provide the coverage and protection that pads designed for incontinence will provide.

Shop from Home

Often, people are embarrassed to purchase absorbent products at their neighborhood drug or grocery store. You may want to consider using a service that delivers these products to your home. They usually come in an unmarked box, and sometimes the company will mail you free or low-cost samples if you ask.

If you need to manage incontinence with absorbent products, however, here are some pros and cons that you're likely to encounter:

The Pros

  • Absorbent products can be bought at a local drugstore or through a home-delivery service.
  • The products offer the security of knowing that should leakage occur, something is in place to absorb it.
  • For some people with incontinence, absorbent products are a more appealing option than surgery or medication.

The Cons

  • There is an ongoing cost associated with using products.
  • Your eldery parent may feel self-conscious using the products due to possible bulkiness or noise.
  • Many people feel embarrassed buying the products.

Talking about Incontinence

When addressing the issue with your elderly parent, its best to be blunt. Unfortunately, incontinence is an issue that many elders must face. Although buying adult diapers can be embarassing, the alternative -- having an accident in public -- could be worse.


Information provided by the Simon Foundation, an organization that advocates on behalf of people with loss of bladder and bowel control.

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23 Comments

Hum, no mention of, dare I say it, Cloth incontinence products? Yes, I just made some belted shields for my 95 yr old FiL and they are working out just great. We were able to get a prototype of a full snap-on under-pant style that he uses at night; though he still gets up between 3-5am. Yes, the initial cost outlay is higher, the long term cost is way down.

We mainly changed for helping to decrease his rash/yeast infection, but also the cost and not filling up the land fills with "disposable" pads.
HI, I am a nurse and a caregiver of my 71y/o mother who obtained a fractured femur(thigh) bone at a nursing home. She has bladder spasms and since she has been on "NO Weight Bearing" we have had to make some changes. The first 3 weeks she had a foley but it clogged up and caused her pain at 3AM and I had to remove it. What I use is the blue disposable pads and then I place a size 5 baby diaper in the front such as a Kotex but on a larger scale. This works for us. We also use the washable kind of bed savers/draw pads that the hospital uses so we do not have to change the whole bed in the middle of the night. I do hope this helps. I know we get tired of doing laundry but the way I see it I take care of everybody's Mom,Dad, etc, I surely can take care of mine. Oh by the way, I am not the one that placed my mother in the nursing home. But sometime a person can not take of another for many reasons. Do not feel guilty if you have your own health,financial or your own family to take care of.
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