In my first post in this corner, I mentioned that I want to use this space to analyze the way that adult incontinence care products are used in a practical setting. Let’s begin that examination now, and I’ll continue it over the series of the next few posts.
In my years as a designer of quality adult incontinence undergarments, I’ve seen a lot of designs for products, both of my own creation and those from other companies. Each time I analyze a design, I try to keep in mind this question: “How will the user of this product feel during and after its use?”
All too often in the United States, we see the product design mantra of “cheaper, faster, better,” and with adult incontinence care undergarments, there is no exception to that production mindset. Many manufacturers try to crank out “cheap” products that will work for 4–6 hours and then must be changed and re-applied. This causes for lots of turnover in product, which, from a manufacturer’s perspective, can be a positive thing. However, as an incontinent individual—or someone providing care for them—these lesser-performing products can be a huge hassle.
With my most recent product design, the Secure X-Plus Adult Undergarments, I have aimed for quite a different standard in caregiving, one that is perhaps employed more often by Europeans than Americans. The European mindset seems to be that 8–12 hour briefs, products that will last a user well through the day and even overnight, are the best options for caring for an incontinent individual.
I couldn’t agree more. As an incontinent individual, why would you want to change a protective undergarment every few hours? As a caregiver, why would you want to wake your loved one or patient every 4 hours during the night to check their undergarment? With a switch from what I’ve labeled as “lesser-performing” briefs to those that last longer and are better in quality, your caregiving perspective will also greatly shift. Let’s examine these key points:
In a more absorbent, longer-lasting brief, more Super Absorbent Polymer (SAP) is used. This ensures that the brief can withstand multiple wettings of varying amounts. Therefore, the product has to be changed less frequently and can still be worn comfortably after 1 or 2 wettings without the brief feeling full or wet to the touch. Moreover, this means that you’re less likely to have a leaky brief, so your clothing and furniture are even more protected than when using a lesser-performing brief.
Even though longer lasting briefs like the Secure X-Plus, or those made by European companies like Molicare, Abena and Tena tend to cost more per brief, their overall usage will actually save you money. If during the course of any given day you’re using 6 “cheap” briefs that cost you 60 cents each and you replace them with 2 longer-lasting briefs that cost $1.50 each, you’re actually saving a total of 60 cents per day. Over the course of a month, that equals $18, and in a year, you’re looking at a total savings of over $200.
This point is especially important for those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. Oftentimes in managed care facilities, patients suffering from Alzheimer’s will be woken every 3–4 hours during the night to have their incontinence undergarments checked for soiling. This causes distress to the patient, of course, and creates sometimes unnecessary work for the caregiver. With a more absorbent, longer-lasting quality brief, the patient and caregiver can rest assured that the garment will work the whole night through.
By using fewer briefs per day, you’re disposing of about 66% less plastic and non-woven material than before (based on the assumed use of 2 briefs per day rather than 6). This is an important factor to consider as the world’s landfill space gets more and more full. In my coming posts, I’ll also mention the use of cloth diapers—another landfill-saving technique to properly take care of incontinence.
Though my ideas for may go against the grain here in the United States, I think they are slowly catching on. For one, I’ve seen sales of our longer-lasting briefs and protective underwear rise steadily over the past few years. Beyond that, I believe that people will opt for longer-lasting products when they realize that they may offer more comfort and ease of use than the currently utilized products that are present on the market.
What are your thoughts? How have longer-lasting incontinence care products helped you or a loved one?
Your Partner in Comfort,
Gary is an adviser to online incontinence care products provider SecurePersonalCare.com.
Learn everything about adult diapers by visiting Everything About Incontinence.