Author: Sarah Williams
Reviewed By: Brindusa Vanta

Yes, many assisted living facilities change diapers. Most communities provide help with activities of daily living, which include toileting and continence management. However, exact services vary among facilities; some states mandate the provision of personal care, while others give facilities greater choice over which services to offer. Therefore, seniors should always ensure that a community can deliver adequate care, taking into account possible changes in circumstances. Additionally, some communities charge extra for certain services.

Incontinence in Older Adults

Older adults wear diapers to manage incontinence. While some can change disposable underwear themselves, others need assistance with changing and hygiene. Figures from the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) indicate that 43% of assisted living residents in the United States need toileting help.

Additionally, research suggests that around 50% of seniors living at home or in assisted living facilities experience urinary incontinence. The condition affects significantly more women than men. Moreover, older studies found that fecal incontinence affected up to 13% of adults in assisted living, but this figure may be much higher

Incontinence and Dementia

Dementia is another risk factor for incontinence, particularly in the later stages of disease progression. Some sources suggest that more than 50% of people with dementia also experience incontinence. Although seniors with dementia may live in specialized memory care units, in nursing facilities or at home, NCAL data indicates that around 42% of assisted living residents have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.

Issues Surrounding Diapers in Assisted Living

For some assisted living residents, diapers offer a practical solution for continence management. Caregivers should ensure residents change disposable products frequently throughout the day — whether aided or by themselves — to ensure hygiene and comfort and prevent skin issues. Staff must treat residents with dignity when assisting with diaper changes. Many states mandate that only caregivers of the same gender may assist residents with specific tasks, such as bathing, dressing and toileting.

However, caregivers shouldn’t use adult diapers for staff convenience; they should use alternative toileting techniques when possible, including scheduled bathroom visits, reminders and help getting to the bathroom and using the toilet.