Absorbent products, sometimes called "adult diapers" help caregivers to manage incontinence in an elderly loved one. Absorbent products are not a treatment of incontinence, but rather a management tool.

It is always important to speak to a medical professional so that they can properly diagnose incontinence, rule out any serious underlying cause, and help you explore treatment options. If an appropriate treatment option is not available for your elderly loved one, using the proper products is important in managing leaks, maintaining skin health and reducing embarrassment.

Finding the Right Incontinence 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.

Browse Our Free Senior Care Guides

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 loved one, it's 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.

Source: The Simon Foundation, an organization that advocates on behalf of people with loss of bladder and bowel control.