Helping An Incontinent Loved One To Wear Adult Diapers

Don't let your incontinent loved one live in denial.
Many incontinent individuals live a little in denial, they may even refuse to wear absorbent products and adult diapers, leaving caregivers and family members feeling frustrated and unsure what to do. If your incontinent loved one refuses to wear absorbent products, consider the following:

First, let’s address some of the reasons an incontinent individual wouldn't want to wear absorbent products.

1. Dignity and pride. Many adults do not like the idea of wearing a “diaper”, it is something they associate with babies, and do not like the idea of admitting they have lost control over their bladder or bowels. It can be embarrassing. They worry they will look bulky and that others will be able to tell they are wearing them.

2. They want to maintain a lifestyle that may not feel possible wearing adult diapers:
  • Dating
  • Exercise
  • Working
3. They think if they ignore it, it will go away. Many adults feel like incontinence is a temporary thing. On average, a woman will wait 6 years before talking to her doctor about bladder control, and a man waits 4 years. While some incontinence is temporary, the result of a surgery, medications, etc. ignoring it will not make it go away.

What to do:

More than 25 million American adults suffer from some degree of incontinence, but that does not make it easy to deal with. Remember this is a personal matter, and it takes time and patience to help a loved one understand the benefits of using absorbent products outweigh the drawbacks. 

1. Look for products designed with discretion in mind. It is important to respect that their concerns for dignity and maintaining their pride are valid. Of course no adult wants to be incontinent. Gently remind them that leaking, odors, and other problems associated with incontinence is far worse than wearing an absorbent product. Try avoiding the word “diapers” and instead use words like “disposable underwear,” which feels more dignified.

Then present your loved one with options that can help them to maintain pride and dignity, and conceal the fact that they are using an absorbent product. There are a number of products designed with low profiles and cloth like appearance to give the look and feel of real underwear with the protection of an adult diaper.

  • Poise offers Hourglass pads that are designed for the full figured woman to help catch leaks. They stay in place, and fit comfortably, offering protection, comfort, and discretion. 

  • Prevail Boxers. For the man looking to be able to be out and about, but have the protection of an absorbent product, the Prevail Boxers are a great option. They look and feel like the real thing, other guys in the locker room, lavatory, and even the wife won’t know it is an absorbent product if you don’t want them to. 

2. Talk with their physician about how to improve incontinence. Not all incontinence is permanent. Give your loved one hope that they can cure incontinence while managing the symptoms so that they won’t have to wear an adult diaper forever.

3. Help them understand that there are products to help, that can minimize odor, leaks, and provide superior comfort, without getting in the way of their day to day life. Have an open dialogue. If they continue to refuse, consider ordering a few samples and let the subject drop, leaving the samples where they can try them, and get used to the idea of having protection, discreet and dignified protection. 

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About The CareGiver Partnership. The CareGiver Partnership helps caregivers and their loved ones with answers to their caregiving questions, including information about home health care products and supplies, from our Wisconsin-based team of Product Specialists who are all current or former caregivers. The company’s Web site provides the largest online library of resources on subjects most important to caregivers — from arthritis to assisted living, and Parkinson’s to prostate cancer — as well as access to more than 3,000 home care products for incontinence, skin care, mobility, home safety and daily living aids. The CareGiver Partnership was founded in 2004 by Lynn Wilson of Neenah, Wisc. Visit to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.


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