How Can I Get an Incontinent Person to Use Adult Diapers?

4 answers | Last updated: Jun 08, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

How can I get someone who's having incontinence accidents to start using adult diapers?

Expert Answers

As Founder and Director of Circles of Care, Ann Cason provides caregiving, consulting, and training services to individuals and public and private organizations involved in eldercare. She is the author of Circles of Care: How to Set Up Quality Home Care for Our Elders.

Your most effective entry point to the subject is through the person's doctor. When the suggestion to use incontinence products comes from him or her, you avoid getting into a battle of wills or an argument -- or being seen as the "bad guy." Besides, it's smart to link the discussion to a doctor's visit, because for both incontinence in older women and incontinence in older men, there are many medical causes that can be treated and cured.

You want to be empathetic but not shy when discussing incontinence products -- even if you find the topic embarrassing or are worried about invading the other person's privacy or dignity. Jump in: "I know this is hard to talk about, Mom, but I have these new panties the doctor told us about. They're made of absorbent material, so if you do have another accident, it won't be a problem. Nobody will know, and later you can change it." If you're embarrassed, admit it (but do so with sensitivity): "I feel weird talking about this, too, but apparently it's a pretty common situation."

Be matter of fact about the advantages: It will save you from being embarrassed if there's an accident, nobody will know, it will save your clothes, it's better for your skin.

If the person still refuses to try, just leave some in his or her underwear drawer and drop the matter for a while. People are often torn between wanting a solution to their problem and getting over their own pride or misconceptions about absorbent undergarments. Be reassuring: "At first it might not seem comfortable or right, but you'll get used to it."

A word about what style to try: New users are often receptive to those that most resemble their regular underwear. Obviously, incontinence products aren't made of silk or lace, but they do come in pull-on male and female styles that will seem more familiar than side-fastening or belted diapers.

A word about language: Most people are turned off by the word diaper. It sounds babyish, which makes it hard for anyone to imagine using them. It can even make the person panic. So try to avoid diaper or adult diaper. Call them disposable panties or disposable underpants or just pull-ups, which is what many type resemble. The person can step into the disposable underwear just as if it were regular underwear, which will make most people more accepting of trying them.

Community Answers

Bethrol answered...

RE: Incontinence...Ditto about the language. I simply call them 'briefs'. I am an RN who has had clients with varied stages of Alzheimer's or other dementia. One of my first pieces of advice for a caregiver who is starting on the road to tomorrow is to pick your battles wisely. There is no benefit from arguing with someone who is experiencing dementia because logic no longer is part of the thinking process. If you suggest the person wear the brief and they are resistant, I have found it helpful to assure the person that you know they don't have to wear it, but it {the brief} will help just in case there's an accident....,"...that way you won't get your pants wet or the floor or someone's chair. It will be there just in case." If the person is still agitated about the idea, wait until later to broach the subject again. One more note of noteworthy on this subject; the caregiver needs to stay involved in the hygiene aspect of incontinence and briefs. (If the affected person is unable to remember how to clean themselves, they may 'stash' the soiled brief in an inappropriate place. This is especially troublesome when it goes in the toilet!

Sport1317 answered...

I'am a older male 74 sound mind but wet the bed at night due to prostate and being a diabetic.I don't worry about calling them adult diapers but can see where dealing with dementia that would be a problem.

Bless caregivers answered...

You may have to call in experienced help for the transition of underwear to the "designer briefs" as we referred them to. This was a challenge, as a caregiver to my brother, afflicted with ALZ, it was a sad decision to make and implement but I knew the dreaded time had come. I removed all the "Hanes briefs" and replaced them with the most normal I could find, ended up being the "Real Fit" by Depends. There's a blue or grey color, went with the grey, just more manly to me. He's not a big guy, so I went with the small/medium for a tighter, old Hanes look. He was not happy, but, I held firm, on the advice of professionals who told me his reluctance would fade, it did. This took patience and time, they were hidden, ripped up, thrown across the room, at me. I had to remember the count in the drawer since he would take them off. I had to remind myself it was the best decision for him, I didn't want him to be ashamed or embarrassed when an accident occurred; I wanted him to continue in his day program, which he loves, and has been the best thing for him. It's a tough change, right up there with all the other major ones, no driving, moving, too many to mention. It was hard to watch his non-acceptance of something that was an easy fix for him and me but I knew to hold tight on this, yes, my coaches were life-savers. Remember it's ok to "fib" about the need to change over. "Working men wear these," "they're designer," "management says so, so just do it." Get rid of the old, so, you don't give in and they are out of his sight. Don't be hard on yourself, I was initially, since it started out occasionally. I had many professionals tell me, "If it's happening it is," hard to accept, yet I knew they were right once again. Hate this disease! Be strong, it will take patience and time, but it will become part of the "new normal." God Bless