I See Old People

The MIDLIFE Gals: Kelly and Sally Jackson

About The Midlife Gals
Kelly and Sally Jackson began their journey as The Midlife Gals in August, 2007 with a small blog about aging…and no attention. They served for 5 years as live-in caregivers for their mother, whom they dubbed, The Ancient One.   After discovering that the tiny black square atop the monitor on their computer was a camera, they added videos to their blog which then morphed into a full-blown website, accruing both regional and national acclaim in their wake.  They are boomer sisters just saying what millions of boomer women are thinking, but who might be too terrified to verbalize.  They talk about aging and all manner of indignities therein.  And, they do it with humor.

The Midlife Gals have written columns and produced/starred in videos for such websites as More Magazine, Divine Caroline, Health Central Network, National Association of Baby Boomer Women and many more.

Think Lucy and Ethel after Fred and Ricky…or The Smothers Brothers with bosoms.  The Midlife Gals are riding the crest of the boomer wave in the market place and, they’ve never been happier.

'I See Old People' by Kelly and Sally Jackson

Here’s the scenario...Sal and I were looking at a table in our little condo. Atop the table stood an old antique library lamp with a green glass shade. Sal moved something next to the lamp, and it started to fall from the desk. Everything slipped into slow motion, giving us plenty of time to think a myriad of thoughts as the lamp was falling to the floor. Neither of us moved a muscle to try to catch it. We never even gasped or made any attempt whatsoever to try to catch that lamp.

Therein lies ALL the difference.

We just looked at each other after the sound of breaking glass dissipated. Accusatory glares were exchanged between us, with guilt felt on both sides about not at least trying for a lamp save. Then we started laughing and couldn’t stop for a long time. It was an hysterical AH-HA midlife moment! Because, during the slow-motion portion of the fall, we both realized in a split second that we could do way more damage to our bodies than having to buy a new lamp shade, were we to make any sudden movements.

I pictured a broken hip, a pulled muscle from the reach and cut arms from landing in the broken glass because, I was too slow to the chase. You’ll hear what Sal thought (and Sal’s thoughts always surprise me), but this was a turning point, no doubt. This got me thinking. What doesn’t? And, I realized that, without even knowing it, we’ve crept into another, older category.

Remember how you used to be able to open a jar without the aid of a rubber sleeve or contraption that helps you grip?? When did that happen?

When I rise from my bed now-a-days, it’s important to stretch my arms up, do a mini-spinal twist to the left and the right then reach down and touch my toes before my ass ever leaves the bed. If something untoward were to happen to Sally in the middle of the night, I fear that, like the lamp falling to the floor, I would remain motionless until I could go through my stretching rituals...and by that time...God would be resting her soul.

Think about how easy it used to be to run across the street before the light changed. HA! Try it now, and see how far you get without breathing too hard, having your arches fall or pulling your thigh muscle. When we get caught in the middle of an intersection now, we just hold an outstretched arm with the palm up, while simultaneously creating an incredibly menacing scowl on our faces, practically daring the driver to pull one-half inch closer. It seems to work pretty well for us, especially when we do it in unison...double trouble!

Remember when it was a lot easier to get up from the toilet? I’m just sayin...



Oh, yeah, yeah, the whole lamp incident was so indicative of how our reflexes have given way to logic and fear for the ramifications of how quick movements can wreak havoc on our bodies. Sorry, Mr. Lamp, no wrenched back for me from trying desperately to stop your fall.

As the lamp began to fall, my mind also went into slo-mo mode as I watched it fly gracefully to the floor. I was thinking, that lamp is going to hit the floor and the glass bowl on it is going to break into a million, little pieces and cause KK to have a conniption fit. I remembered how, when I was a teeny, whip of a girl and I dropped Grandmother’s expensive, porcelain figurine of an old lady on a bench holding balloons of different colors. I always loved that little figurine, and I couldn’t help picking it up to look more closely at the slip of the old lady’s long skirt.

I tried to glue the figurine back together before Grandmother found out. I really thought I had gotten away with it until a few days later when she noticed that there was a shoe sticking out of the old lady’s head, and one of the balloons sat where her foot should have been, giving the impression that she had just given birth to a big, red balloon that had dropped out of her uterus and landed at her feet. I was thinking, ‘I have to forgive myself for that.’ Hell, I was only five years old. And all Grandmother did was tell me that I was silly and not give me a second helping of her famous mince-meat pie.

I was just beginning to remember the time I broke Mother’s plate that she had stolen from the room service tray at The Savoy in London. I was thinking about….

And CRASH! The antique library lamp in our condo hit the floor with a sound like a dropped tray at a cheap cafeteria. Are there still Furr’s Cafeterias around? We used to go there on Sundays when we visited our cousins in Lubbock, and our Uncle Bill managed one of them. That thought was going through my mind as the pieces of glass settled into the shape of a rearing stallion on the floor.

Then it was quiet in the condo. I would tell you what I began to think at that time, but it would take a hundred more pages just to get to the place where KK finished brushing the broken glass pieces into the dustpan.

Here are just a few things that went through my mind as she was heading for the mop-closet:

*When I was 25 years old I could have caught that lamp in midair and placed it back on the desk with the graceful movement of a ballerina doing a solo in Swan Lake.

*When I was younger, in fact, right up into my forties, my pillow-face was gone in fifteen minutes. Now it lasts for three hours and has spread to my arms.

*I used to spring out of a chair when called for cocktails. Now when I get up, I’m still in the same sitting position right up until the Vermouth hits the ice and I finally straighten up for our toast; ‘Here’s to not dying young!’

These days, when I break something…I pretty much don’t give a shit.


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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. Visithttp://www.caregiverpartnership.com to learn more or call 1-800-985-1353.

I Wet the Bed, Do You?

Adult bed wetting is far more common than most people think.
“I’m an adult who wets the bed. It is so embarrassing, am I the only one? Is there even anything I can do?” If you have ever said this or thought this, then this is for you: 

You are not alone.

You do have options.

Adult bed wetting is far more common than most people would think, but that does not make it any less frustrating. And that doesn’t mean you should ignore it or not seek treatment. Get some help.

What help is available to you?

The Underlying Causes of ABL

A look at some of the underlying causes of ABL.
Have you ever had a problem? A medical condition? Or just a bad situation and wondered why me? It is human nature to think bad or inconvenient or inopportune things can’t happen to us, and then wonder why they do. If you have accidental bowel leakage, ABL, you might be asking yourself why?

ABL is the accidental passage of stool or mucus from the rectum. While common, with 20% of women over 40 experiencing symptoms, and men showing a similar number, it is often not talked about. It is an embarrassing condition that most people prefer to ignore or pretend does not exist. However, identifying the cause of ABL can help to identify the solution. Often ABL is a symptom of another condition, and treating the underlying condition can improve, correct, or even cure the ABL.

Incontinence Is a Manageable Symptom of Alzheimer’s

Dianna Malkowski

by Dianna Malkowski, Physician Assistant & Nutritionist

As new Alzheimer’s biomarker results are reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2014, let’s explore the relationship between Alzheimer’s and incontinence and ways to help a loved one manage the disease.

Building Confidence When Leaks Happen

Face the world confidently, despite LBL. 
Over 13 million individuals suffer from involuntary urine loss, or leaks, referred to as urinary incontinence. Over half of these are women, and not all of them are seniors either. In fact, these days younger women, career women, and many under age 50 suffer from light bladder leakage. 

The CareGiver Partnership Now Sells B-Sure® for Light Accidental Bowel Leakage

B-Sure helps those with ABL remain active.

by Lynn Wilson, Founder of The CareGiver Partnership

The CareGiver Partnership is carrying a product designed to help men and women with light accidental bowel leakage (ABL) live with normalcy and dignity. B-Sure absorbent pads are designed to help those with ABL maintain active lifestyles.

Same Problems, Changing Times for Female Incontinence

Women with LBL now have options,
information and variety.
Did you know the average woman with incontinence waits six years from her first incontinent episode to seek the help of a doctor? Urinary incontinence, or the involuntary loss of urine, even in small quantities is a common problem, but in the past it was often a problem women did not want to talk about. 

With over 13 million sufferers in the US alone, the time to suffer in silence is over. These days, the problem remains the same, but things are changing.

Your Guide to Constipation Related ABL

Constipation is sometimes the cause of ABL.
ABL, or Accidental Bowel Leakage can happen to anyone, and does happen to many. And sometimes constipation is the cause. 

My neighbor’s little boy was constipated, and because it hurt to go, he held it in. For a week. This caused all kinds of problems, including leaks. And now he has to follow a very specific regime for eating, eliminating, and more. It is a huge hassle, hard on him socially, and has resulted in a lot of expense and frustration for his poor mother. He is now on a year-long treatment plan to correct the damage and curtail the ABL.

Penrose Senior Care Auditors Announces Partnership with The Caregiver Partnership

Customers of the Caregiver Partnership are invited
to receive a discount on Penrose Senior Care Auditors service.
Penrose Senior Care Auditors, the only national company that checks on seniors and their living conditions, and reports back to their loved-ones, is pleased to announce a partnership with The Caregiver Partnership, a leading online resource for home health care products, services and family caregiving information.

Aimed at the senior care market, both companies join forces under a shared commitment and clear need to provide products and services that improve and enhance the lives of aging seniors and reduce the worry and stress of their loved-ones.

Resolving Mobility Impairment Issues with a "Smart Home"

There are a multitude of developments,
all bringing convenience and hands-free options. 
Guest post by Beth Kelly

Keeping a finger to the pulse of technology news is revealing interesting developments in automation for the home that could make major improvements in quality of life for those dealing with mobility issues. A whole new class of innovative devices and designs, including products promoted by top manufacturers in a variety of industries, like consumer electronics giant Samsung and home security mainstay Brinks, are coming to market. They're built to use smart electronics and microprocessor technology to automate common tasks and make your appliances work better and use less energy, and changing the way you interact with your home’s everyday systems. These essential gadgets are destined to become a solution for the issues faced by independence-minded individuals. Here are a few examples of how technology is helping solve mobility problems. 

Online Support Helps Our High Percentage of Incontinent Americans

One in two older Americans experiences incontinence.

by Lynn Wilson, Founder of The CareGiver Partnership

As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports more than half of older Americans experience incontinence, here’s more information on the physical, emotional, and financial effects of urinary and bowel incontinence and where to find help.

Your Solution to ABL Management

The B-Sure Management solution you've been looking for. 
ABL, which stands for Accidental Bowel Leakage, is the accidental passing of stool or mucus from the rectum. It is a condition that impacts men and women. In fact, 20% of women over the age of 40 have been shown to experience symptoms of ABL according to studies, and a similar number of men. While most of these only experience light to moderate leakage, it can still impact and disrupt normal life, and lead to frustration and discomfort.

Getting Your Dignity Back

Regain your dignity by taking control over your LBL. 
For most women under the age of 50, the idea of struggling with urinary incontinence, no matter how light, is mortifying. Losing bladder control, even if just small leaks, is embarrassing and frustrating. 

Too often women with incontinence find themselves turning down social invitations, avoiding exercise, and living in fear of leaking if they laugh, cough, jump, or sneeze.

Light incontinence is a common, though not often talked about problem. Men and women alike suffer from this condition, but women, particularly women who have had children, often find that unexpected leaks happen.

Pessaries. P&G’s & Kimberly-Clarks Next Incontinence Frontier? Updated Sept 2015.

Pessaries have been around since 300 B.C.  This ancient one was made out of wood.
There is speculation that Procter & Gamble may re-enter the incontinence category with a device known as a pessary.  Here is more about P&G's imminent entry into incontinence.

What Is a Pessary?
A pessary is a device used to help control stress-related incontinence. It is placed in the vagina to support the uterus and bladder or rectum. By pressing against the wall of the vagina and the urethra, it helps to decrease urine leakage. Although it doesn't cure problems like pelvic organ prolapse, it can help manage them and slow the progression.

This drawing shows where a pessary is placed.

These reusable devices are typically available in different sizes and fitted in a doctor's office. Many women who use pessary devices find their symptoms improve and they experience added support and increased tightness in pelvic muscles and tissues. There are entire websites dedicated to such devices.

Reusable pessaries come in many shapes and sizes.
Urinary incontinence, in which the ordinary muscle functions fail to prevent leakage, is common among women, particularly older women. It is estimated that up to 50 percent of women occasionally leak urine involuntarily, and that approximately 25 precent of women will seek medical advice at some point in order to deal with the problem.

History of the Pessary
The use of pessaries dates back prior to the days of Hippocrates. Throughout the centuries, remedies such as honey, hot oil, wine, and fumes were used as treatment for pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence and other ailments, as were mechanical methods such as leg binding. In the Middle Ages, linen and cotton wool soaked in various potions were used as pessaries.

For a time, cork and brass pessaries were used, but were soon replaced with rubber. Modern day pessaries are made of non-reactive silicone and come in various designs and sizes.

Pessaries to Reduce Stress Urinary Incontinence
Stress urinary incontinence (SUI), the most common type of urinary incontinence, refers to the involuntary loss of urine resulting from abdominal pressure that can occur during exercise, coughing, sneezing and laughing. SUI, which affects 13 percent of men and 53 percent of women over age 50, represents nearly 80 percent of all incontinence. Consumers spent $19.5 billion in 2000 to treat SUI.

When stress incontinence occurs, it is usually the result of the abnormal descent of the urethra and bladder neck below the level of the pelvic floor. Many women wear feminine care pads, incontinence pads or disposable pull-on underwear in order to deal with incontinence. Some resort to surgical procedures.

Pessary devices are known to help relieve involuntary urination in women. Such devices provide compression and support to the bladder. Typical pessary devices are large in diameter and may elastically expand, inflate or unfold to provide compressive action during use. They may be uncomfortable and/or require the user to activate or operate the device prior to or upon insertion.

Although there are specialized products available for this purpose, most only are available by prescription must be properly sized, physically inserted and/or adjusted by a medical doctor for them to correctly perform. These are cleaned after removal and reused. For all these reasons, pessaries are not very popular.

Poise Impressa Test Results
In an FDA approved study size of N=50 women wearing Poise Impressa who had severe SUI, it was shown that:
  • 94% experienced a leak reduction of 70% or more.
  • It takes about a week for full effectiveness to be demonstrated. After a week, wearers experienced leakage reduction of 86%. The take away is... give it a week at least.
  • 92% of women claimed they felt dry.
  • When asked about coughing, laughing, sneezing, jumping, lifting, walking, running or going to the gym 50-90% of women expressed a lack of confidence they could stay dry during these activities. By the end of the study this dropped to about 10%. In other words, about 90% of women were confident they would stay dry.
  • 92% of women said their quality of life had significantly improved - physical, the abiliyt to travel, to socialize and emotional.
  • The real consumer benefit of Poise Impressa is an enhanced quality of life.
How Poise Impressa Works
The core is composed of flexible medical-grade silicone with anchor and support poles, and is designed to respond to movement while staying in place. As it supports the urethra, each pole functions independently to adapt to vaginal structural variability in order to effectively generate counter-tension under stress.

A soft, non-absorbent polypropylene cover surrounds the core, stretching between the support poles to act as a tension-free sub-urethral sling without obstructing urinary flow or vaginal secretions.

What Are the Risks to a Woman?  
While there are benefits from reusable pessary devices, they are not without risks, which often are the result of an ill-fitted or misworn device. A woman may need to change the shape or size of her reusable pessary after her initial fitting.

Risks include sores, bleeding, wear on the vaginal wall, an opening or fistula between the vagina and rectum, and bulging of the rectum against the vaginal wall.

Why Would a Woman Choose to Wear a Pessary?
There are risks with pessary devices, so why would a woman choose this option?

A pessary is a non-surgical option for helping with symptoms of incontinence, but also for treating gynecological conditions such as improper uterus positioning and pelvic organ prolapse. If a woman is young and planning on having children, she may want something to help until she can have surgery. If surgery is too risky, this is a safer alternative.

It can also be a good way to test and see what the effects of surgery for pelvic organ prolapse will be on urinary symptoms. Because it mimics what the surgery will do, you can determine if the impact is great enough to warrant the risks associated with surgery.

There can be some side effects such as increased vaginal discharge or discomfort during sex, but most can be helped or eliminated with a different style, size or shape of pessary. Pessary devices can be found in rubber, plastic, silicone, as an inflatable, etc.

A woman should talk with her healthcare professional to see if a pessary device (reusable or disposable) is right for her.

Unmet Consumer Needs
Despite being in existence for so long, pessaries have never caught on, even during the modern era of consumer products like Tampax tampons and Kotex. Having designed and marketed both feminine care and incontinence products for more than 30 years, to our knowledge there has never been a consumer-friendly, disposable pessary.

The major unmet consumer need is a comfortable, single-use, disposable device. It should be uncomplicated, user friendly, small in size, easy and comfortable to insert and remove, and, most importantly, effective at managing incontinence. Such a device should be safe to use daily, be discreetly transported, and easily used and disposed of when away from home. A product with these attributes could shift the use of incontinence products from ordinary pads and pull-on underwear. However, there may be a perceived safety hurdle — read more on that below.

P&G Test of a Disposable Pessary
In 2011, P&G published the results of a study of a new pessary design from an Israeli startup named ConTipi Ltd. P&G reportedly agreed to acquire the company for up to $100 million on Sept. 16, 2010, and then, a month later, rescinded the offer. They did agree to continue its partnership to distribute ConTipi's products as a pilot in several countries.

P&G, in conjunction with a Cincinnati testing facility and local doctors, published a report of a study they did on the design. The product is a single-use, disposable product that has a resin core (flexible silicone rubber core) providing tension-free support whenever pressure is trans­ferred from the abdominal cavity to the pelvic floor. The core is covered by a non-woven mesh. Both are contained within a smooth, small-diameter applicator similar to those used for tampon inser­tion.  As pictured below, the device is attached to a tampon-like string for removal.

TIPI pessary.jpg
OTC status was granted on Aug. 27, 2013.
A study with 57 women demonstrated that the device significantly reduced both the number of incontinence episodes from stress urinary incontinence (while coughing, laughing, lifting) as well as less leakage and a self-reported improvement in quality of life. The latter is the real benefit in that it helps women enjoy life more.

Regulatory Approval Granted in the United States
ConTipi was granted OTC regulatory approval on Aug. 27, 2013, allowing it to market the product as a class II medical device, as a disposable consumer product intended to be worn for 8 hours to help manage stress urinary incontinence.

A Pessary With a Protuberance
On April 10, 2014, P&G was granted a patent on a a pessary device having a top, a base, a length, a longitudinal axis, and a hollow interior. The pessary device's hollow interior contains a protuberance.  It is assumed that the protuberance feature is integral to the design, since it is mentioned 100 times within the patent. This terms refers to something that bulges out or projects from its surroundings. Another patent for a carrier mold to produce a shaped tampon was granted May 14, 2013.

Protuberance is mentioned 100 times in the patent.

The pessary is inserted using a tampon-like applicator.

Could This be Rely II?
We earlier mentioned there may be a hurdle to introducing pessaries. This risk is fear of unknown health risks. After all, this is an internally worn device. 

Beginning in 1975, P&G began testing Rely tampons in Rochester and Fort Wayne. The test itself was reported as being "controversial." Rely was unique in that it used new materials that had undergone extensive safety testing. The advertising tagline: "It even absorbs the worry!" P&G recalled Rely in September 1980 after the Centers for Disease Control released a report that summer explaining the bacterial mechanisms that to toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and that Rely tampons were associated with TSS more than any other tampon. The recall cost P&G over $75 million.

Rely was recalled in September 1980 due to toxic shock syndrome concerns.

While pessaries do not absorb, the new disposable types have not yet been used by millions of women. No one knows how safe these internally worn devices will be, and overcoming potential safety concerns may prove to be an obstacle to acceptance. The generation of women who may recall TSS was brought to them by P&G and Rely are now using incontinence product and may be reluctant.

The other important influence may be the medical community. There is little incentive for health care providers to recommend a new product form that is unproven.

A Product Design with Significant Potential
Single-use, disposable pessaries have significant potential because:
  • They're targeted to women with SUI, which represent the core of incontinence episodes.  
  • They look normal; a woman places them just like she does a tampon.
  • They look modern and innovative, not like an ordinary pad or pull-on underwear.
  • The target market is growing; 5,000 baby boomer women are turning 65 every day, and this will continue for the next 20 or more years.
Why Not Just Use a Lower-Cost Tampon?
Pessaries don't absorb like tampons. Instead, they provide mechanical support of the sagging muscle to help reduce leakage.

Potential Effect on Sales of Incontinence Pads and Pull-On Underwear
If a significant number of women move to this new design, pads and pull-on underwear sales could be detrimentally affected. However, two aspects could inhibit trial: pricing and safety concerns.

On a per-product basis (pessary or bladder control insert vs. pad), Pessaries cost 5 times more per product. Women on average use two pads per day.  Pessaries (like Poise bladder inserts) are intended for use for 8 hours. To economize, women may use a pessary during the day or when away from home, and pads or pull-on underwear while sleeping.

Alternatives to the pessary for women are using ordinary absorbent products, which have been in existence since the 1920s (think Kotex pads), physical therapy, behavior modification, pharmaceuticals, and vaginal and urethral inserts. These alternatives have poor compliance rates and limited efficacy.

Current reusable pessaries, which are fitted in a doctor's office, are associated with vaginal erosion, foul vaginal odors and other complications associated with prolonged use. That's why a disposable option is consumer preferred. 

Further Reading
Pessaries.  P&G's Next Incontinence Frontier?
Poise Impressa.  A Game Changer.


Introducing Even More Consumer Confusion
Consumers are terribly confused when it comes to buying incontinence products, especially those who are new to the category. Kimberly-Clark, makers of market leading brands Depend and Poise, claim that people who buy incontinence products for the first time waste an average of $130 on trial and error until they find a product to best meet their needs. That’s about 10 bags of products that can’t be returned once opened.

This confusion is caused by lack of naming standards, absorbency standards across and between brands, confusing product descriptors and lack of expert advice. Here is a good explanation of what is causing this confusion  That's why The CareGiver Partnership developed The Incontinence Product Finder to help consumers sort through over 650 globally sourced incontinence products quickly and easily and then avoid the cost mistake of buying the wrong products. 

The introduction of a new product segment (Pessaries or bladder support inserts) with new brands and features will further add to the existing consumer confusion. 

Kimberly-Clark Patent Filing Activity
Kimberly-Clark has a long history of patent filings around pessaries dating back as far as 1927.

Some of the language used to describe such products states that the insert may be formed from a variety of bio-compatible materials and may be formed as a solid or semi-solid mass of a compressible, resilient, bio-compatible material that allows the insert to deform and to substantially conform to the shape of the object deforming the insert. Alternatively, the insert may be formed such that the insert has a thin wall that defines an outer surface and an inner surface.

Many of its more recent patent filings related to tampon-like devices make mention that "it will be readily apparent that the pledgets and tampons can also be used as any other suitable vaginal insert, such as a pessary."

On May 29, 2014, Tom Falk, CEO of Kimberly-Clark (#KMB) made a comment at the 2014 Sanford C. Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference that "... we’ve just launched the new Poise microliner and have got some new innovation and new product that is coming there."

As predicted in June, Kimberly-Clark introduced a Poise-branded pessary (Poise Impressa) in September to extend the brand franchise and compete against the P&G Always Discreet line.  I was surprised they didn't announce this ahead of P&G's August 1 announcement so it wouldn''t appear to be reactionary. 

1927 Kimberly-Clark pessary patent.

Further Reading

Having competed against P&G since 1974 across a wide range of categories — including detergents, cleansers/cleaners, bar soap, dish liquid, baby diapers, adult diapers and feminine care — the introduction of pessaries will be very interesting, especially overcoming the health concerns (Rely, Olean/Olestra).

By Tom Wilson, Co-Founder and President of The CareGiver Partnership, a national direct to consumer retailer of over 550 incontinence products, globally sourced. Tom is also Managing Director of CenterBrain Partners, Inc. specializing in positioning new products.  CenterBrain has offices in the United States and China.  You can reach me at tomw@caregiverpartnership.com or 920-886-8162.

Incontinence Products: A State of Confusion

$130 wasted in trial and error mode
The average person buying incontinence products for the first time, wastes $130.

Consumer Research Validates Consumer Confusion

Kimberly-Clark, makers of market leading brands, Depend and Poise claim that people who buy incontinence products for the first time, waste, on average, $130 on trial and error until they find a product to best meet their needs. That’s about 10 bags of products that can’t be returned once opened.

What is causing this state of confusion? 

Lack of segment naming standards 
There are no naming standards for styles, and the descriptions are changed frequently. For example, undergarments are now called shields, even though there were shields that were a different product form. Depend briefs are now called Protection with Tabs while Depend Pull-On underwear is now referred to as briefs (which used to be the big adult diaper with tape tabs).

Some manufacturers refer to pads for men as male guards, while others call them guards for men. Now there are shields for men, a product named Real Fit for Men and Boxers for Men.

Lack of absorbency standards
There are no standards for describing absorbency levels. One manufacturer’s most absorbent product is “extra absorbency,” while another’s is “super plus.” How does an individual decide?

Here is a quote from a product user: “I would really like incontinence product companies to stop using names for products like "extra", "extra plus", "super", "super plus", "ultra". I mean what do those words even mean relative to each other?” 

Confusing and non standardized absorbency icons
Each of the brands represents absorbency in a different fashion – some with drips, some with cups, others in ounces and some in ML’s. Some use dots or an absorbency scale. In February 2014, Poise changed from showing colored in pads to signify absorbency and went to drips. And, all of these icons are on different sides of the package depending on the brand. Who wants to stand in the isle looking for and trying to compare all this information? And once you figure it out, they change the packaging again when a new set of marketers takes over. 

Poise Absorbency Change.png
Confusing product descriptors
Nomenclature used to describe products is not easily understandable, especially when trying to compare brands. For example, there are ultra-thin pads, ultra-thin with wings, ultra-thin long, and moderate and maximum - yet the maximum version is not as absorbent as ultimate. This is how just one manufacturer describes its pads; another uses its own descriptions, such as moderate, heavy and overnight. How does one decide?

To make it even more confusing, in 2013 the TENA people decided that people don’t want to shop by absorbency. They want to shop by ‘occasion’. So rather than using the same descriptors as the market leading Poise brand, they set themselves on an island by themselves by introducing three new descriptors – Active, Stylish and Anywhere. Since they have a small share of the incontinence category (10%) why would they not want consumers to be able to easily compare against the market leading brand, Poise? This just makes no sense to if you are wanting to grow your brand.

With all the styles, sizes, absorbencies and brands, what will work best? Many people buy what they think they need, and find out at home the fit is wrong or the absorbency isn’t sufficient, which leads to wasted money and time. That’s why the average new category entrant (NCE) wastes $130 in trial and error mode. 

Too Much Confusing Happy Talk
By last count, there were at least 203 confusing 'happy talk' feature descriptors.  Examples include 
  • Absorb-Loc Core
  • Air Dry Layer
  • AZS Advanced Zoning System
  • Award-Winning Confidence
  • Blue Stay Dry Strip 
  • Comfort Dry Cover
  • Diamond Linear-Channeling (DLC)
  • Dry Fast Core
  • Fearless Protection
  • Incontek Technology
  • Integra Mat Bonding
  • Multiple Insults
  • OdaSorb Plus
  • Reduced Roping
  • Space Age Technology
  • Strategic Placement of Super Absorbent Polymer
  • The Unexpected Leak (versus the expected one?)
  • Sam in my Pants
  • Three Dimensional Network of Fibers
  • Water PF Backsheet
  • Worry Free Protection
  • Zoned Body Fit
Stores and most ecommerce retailers are of little help
A person can’t rely on help from the big box stores or internet only websites. Today’s pharmacists are filling twice as many prescriptions as they were just 10 years ago and often don’t have time to come out from behind the counter. And the 18-year-old stock person in the isle doesn’t have the answers, even if you could find one in a store nowadays. Another common problem is running out of products and finding your store is out of stock and being told “there might be more in tomorrow afternoon.”

Internet only sites - no one to speak with
Most internet sites are just that – internet sites. There is no one you can actually speak with who is knowledgeable and ca help answer questions about incontinence products – even Amazon. Amazon offers ‘gift wrapping’ on Depends and you can add them to your ‘Wish List’. They don’t understand what consumers want. No one wants them gift wrapped or ‘wishes’ for incontinence.

Follow the tampon example
But what many people say they’d like is a simple system to make it easier to shop; and compare. One reader recommended something along this line:
  • Light (8-10 oz) 
  • Medium (11-20 oz) 
  • Heavy (21-30 oz) 
  • Maximum (31+ oz) 
Some have suggested these could be called Sorb Standards, Capacity Certification or Leaky Laws. This is the way tampons are marketed. Nomenclature and absorbency guidelines were forced on the tampon manufacturers by the Federal Government in the 1980’s after many women died from toxic shock syndrome (TSS) following the introduction of Rely tampons by P&G. The government wanted women to be able to safely and reliably compare between brands.

It is unlikely the incontinence manufactures will ever get together to agree on something like this.

The answer is real help from real people
Consumers want answers to their incontinence product questions: which product is best for my needs and which should I buy? The CareGiver Partnership provides personal help by an all-female team of knowledgeable Product Specialists who have each been a caregiver to a loved one. Since this is their only business, they know incontinence products inside and out. Call 1-800-985-1353. Ask about their try before you buy sample service where you can try over 100 different incontinence products for a $3.49 handling fee (2 to 4 pieces depending on the style).

They also offer more than 550 incontinence products – 10 times more than even the big box stores. Whatever you need can be delivered to your home on a schedule that you determine and that can be changed at any time. 

Other Helpful Resources
Incontinence Product Finder – Easily sort through 550 incontinence products to find what you need.

Caregiver Resource Library – world’s largest with links to 1,500 sites. Easy to search and find what you need.
Caregiver knowledge center – 1000+ custom written articles about incontinence and a wide range of family caregiver issues. 

Further Reading
Incontinence: Types, Attitudes, Skin Issues, How to Change, Odor, Innovation & More

Our July Sweepstakes Prizes Help at Home and on the Go

Enter to win prizes from Stander and Wellness 2014!
by Lynn Wilson, Founder of The CareGiver Partnership

For seniors who seek greater mobility and comfort at home, as well as peace of mind and confidence all day or all night, we are giving away a Stander security pole and grab bar and a case of NASA-inspired Wellness absorbent products as part of our “Helping You Get On With Life” sweepstakes.

Stop Leaking: Solutions for LBL

Carefully craft your plan to treat and manage LBL. 
Light bladder leakage is common in women of all ages. However, just because it is common, does not mean it is something women want to live with. The following are solutions for women with light bladder leakage:

The solution is a carefully crafted plan of treatment and management.