How to choose incontinence products for your Dad
Choosing incontinence protection products for Dad is a special kind of torment
It can be one of those awful moments in life – noticing that your father may be having incontinence troubles. Maybe you catch a whiff of a smell on his clothes. Maybe you notice a stain on his pants or on the furniture.
At first, you hope it’s a one off. Then someone else – a trusted friend or fellow family member mentions it too. And suddenly you realize: this one’s on you. You’re going to have to talk to your Dad about his incontinence, because no one else will. Now what?
"That's too much information. I can't."
-- Every adult child of an aging parent, ever.
The good news is that there are tons of great resources that will help you get up to speed – definitions of incontinence, the types of incontinence, and scripts for how to have ‘The conversation’. What they boil down to is this:
- Incontinence is an involuntary physiological condition. Translation? Your Dad’s issue is out of his control (right now), so stop thinking that he’s ‘letting’ this happen;
- He may not even be aware of the extent of the issue, or he has no idea what to do about it;
- Helping him solve this is easier than you think.
Once you wrap your head around the fact that your Dad’s bladder isn’t leaking just to make your life difficult, then you two can get on with the fix.
Here’s your very simple to-do list:
- Make an appointment with his doctor so that any medical issues can be ruled out. Since getting the appointment and possible tests make take time,
- Get up to speed on the products your Dad might consider using today; and
- Get, or help him get those products, and get on with the kind of hanging out with Dad that you’d like to get back to.
Although it may feel unfair to have to take this on too, we promise we will get you through it. We get it. We’ve been there too, and promise it's fixable. Fast.
Get up to speed on product options
Think of how sports gear – base layers, fleece, jackets, even gloves – have improved radically since you were a kid. Turns out, textiles for bladder leak protection have also improved as radically.
Through aggressive science and solid research, products are improving all the time. Your Dad now has options—and excellence—that just haven’t been available in the past.
Don’t assume adult diapers are the only solution
Good news - we've done the leg work for you. We’ve already picked product brands with outstanding construction, unbeatable absorbency, first-rate odour control, overall capacity to contain leaks and the capability to be good to skin (don’t underestimate this one).
All you have to think through is the kind of product your Dad needs – and that depends on the use case.
Determine the range of use cases
Think about your wardrobe for a second – just like you’ve got clothes for the work day vs clothes for sports or the gym (comfortable and can wick moisture away), different bladder leak protection products exist for different uses too.
Daytime or overnight?
Next, understand that incontinence products exist for either daytime - lighter protection that catches leaks between pit stops - or overnight (ideally, when he's out cold for 6-8 hours). Which does he need? Or does he need both?
If overnight, more protection, or capacity, is needed so that the product absorbs more volume. More absorption means Dad will sleep comfortably, possibly without waking up. Remember – more sleep means a better mood. And who doesn't prefer good-mood Dad?
How mobile is your Dad?
Next, how’s his mobility? Can he change clothes easily or does he need help getting out of bed and dressed? If he's still completely independent, underwear guards and washable, absorbent underwear are the way to go.
If he needs help getting around, disposable briefs (adult diapers) have tabs on the side so he can change without needing to take his pants off.
Finally, for 'around the house' (or car) protection, there are disposable or washable bed or chair pads that can easily protect prized furniture. These range in size from a 'standard' chair (1.5'x1.5' or 19"x19") cover to pads that cover across the target range on a bed, or even the full length of a twin mattress.
Believe it or not, they come in a decent range of colours to better blend in with standard blankets or regular furniture.
What's your Dad's hip / waist size?
If you think underwear, adult briefs (adult diapers) or swimwear might be in order, you'll need to know his hip size. Fortunately, we have this handy graphic to show you exactly what you'll need to know, and how to measure to get the correct info:
Start with the stats: is your Dad leaking more or less than a beer at a time?
Start with the stats – one beer equals 12 ounces (341 ml). Thus 2/3 of a beer is 8 ounces (237 ml). And one 'typical' adult pee? Yep. Also 8 oz.
So, you’ve got to figure out if your dad is leaking way less than a beer at a time – maybe over several hours - or, way more than a beer, and how fast.From there, we can narrow things down the type of product that will work best. When choosing an incontinence product, you want to know:
- How quickly does the product absorb?
- How much does it hold - a few drips, some leaks, nearly a beer, or several beers?
- How dry does it stay?
"Protection" is about capacity
What do we mean by ‘lighter’ vs ‘more’ protection? It’s about capacity. As incontinence product manufacturers don't use the same language to describe the capacity of their products, it can be difficult to gauge the difference between them.
To help you sort it out, we developed a Total Capacity Rating system we use to standardize capacity across all the brands and products we sell.
That way, you can make sure the products you choose are right for your Dad's needs right now (vs later, when he might need more protection).
For a deeper dive, check out “A Man's Guide to Finding the Right Bladder Leak Products”, which our guys put together to help you match products more easily for your Dad.
In the meantime, consider these product options, each in increasing order of capacity.
Men's light bladder leak protection options
Men's Shields, Guards, Pads or Liners
Men's Shields, Guards, Pads or Liners are available as disposable products. They are quiet, discreet and comfortable. They protect against the drips or dribbles of slight to light wetness. Ultra-thin and absorbent, your father would wear them inside his regular underwear.
Guards stay in place with a strong adhesive grip. They offer daytime protection from occasional bladder leaks and feature discreet, cup-shaped protection right where he needs it most. Slim and inconspicuous, men’s guards or underwear liners are suitable for light bladder loss.
Men's moderate bladder leak protection options
Men's Washable Absorbent Underwear
Like regular men’s underwear, these come in an array of styles, sizes and colours. They are constructed using a built-in absorbent pad and comfortable fabrics, and can absorb up to 12 ounces (or 1 beer) over 12 hours.
These products are suitable for men’s light urine loss or a condition known as an 'overactive bladder' (a sudden, urgent need to urinate that you can't control).
Washable absorbent underwear are great for post-surgery, excessive perspiration in sports sports and everyday use, and are a cost-effective alternative to disposable products because they can be machine washed and worn countless times.
They look completely normal, so much so that your Dad can even wear them in the locker room.
Men's Disposable Underwear
If the washable options don't appeal, or cause an laundry challenges, disposable underwear for men are lightweight, discreet and good for light-to-moderate leakages.
They can look and feel similar to regular underwear, and the higher end brands use materials that don't 'rustle'. They are easy to pull on and take off, and give Dad the comfort and confidence he needs to get through a worry-free day.
With impermeable backsides and a cloth-like outer layers, men's disposable underwear options offer comfort, discretion and superior leakage protection over guards or underwear liners. Disposable underwear are perfect if your father is mobile or semi-mobile.
It's also easy to keep a few extra pairs of disposable underwear stashed strategically around - maybe a few in the car, in the locker, at the cottage, at your siblings' place. If there is an accident, no worries. Grab a new pair and get on with the day - no muss, no fuss.
Men's significant bladder leak protection options
Men's Disposable Briefs (Adult Diapers)
Men's disposable briefs (with tabs on the side that make them easy to open / close), also called adult diapers—are yet another option if your Dad is out and about but is worried about possibly having to change in a public washroom.
With disposable briefs, the side tabs make changing quick and easy, and he'll get superior protection for leakage over underwear. In fact, some of these products can hold as much as the equivalent of 3+ beers (44 oz).
It’s important to point out that these briefs do not look like regular underwear so they may not be your Dad's first choice for the gym, but with the right fit (back to that hip size issue) they will offer a snug fit and thus be discreet under his clothes.
In fact, disposable briefs (or adult diapers) can be a bit of a life saver on long trips where access to bathrooms - or even finding accessible bathrooms - might be a challenge.
Additional bladder leak protection options: bed and chair covers
Washable, reusable, absorbent furniture protection
Today's waterproof mats or covers are machine machine washable. Available in different sizes and colours, these can products will save Dad's favourite chair, and lighten the laundry load.
These waterproof mats are designed to protect furniture from all sorts of fluids. They lie flat, on top of your furniture and stay in place with either a grippy material on the back or with mattress tucks-ins.
Disposable absorbent furniture protection
Disposable underpads can help Dad keep linens, mattresses, chairs, sofas and other surfaces (think car or wheelchair) dry and clean. Soft, absorbent and durable even when wet — and are even strong enough for overnight.
These underpad products offer rapid absorption with strong, cloth-like backsheets that resist tearing as your Dad moves around. The outer layer is soft and rustle-free to minimize sleep interruption.
Help your Dad get the products he might consider using today
Remember that simple to-do list from the top of this post? We're at the third and final item - help your Dad by getting, or helping him get the right products for his particular use cases.
My Liberty carries all the products we've explained here - you'll find them in our Men's Collection. You can order any of them online anytime. Or contact us by email or call toll free at 1 (888) 800-4356 and we'll help you place the right order.
We deliver across Canada, and we can ship the products directly to your father's address. Once you and he figure out the right products, we can also automatically restock your Dad at whatever frequency makes sense. They'll show up at his place magically, and you won't even have 'to know'.
Trust us when we say we've been there and we know how to help. Every day, we work with customers to solve what feels like an overwhelming problem. It isn't. Get in touch anytime - we've got you and your Dad covered.
Besides, isn't it time to get back to the kind hanging out with Dad that you want to do?
- Cindy Clegg