How to choose incontinence products for your Mom
Choosing incontinence protection products for Mom is a special kind of challenge
It can be one of those awful moments in life – noticing that your mother may be having incontinence troubles. Maybe you catch an 'aroma' on her clothes or notice a stain on the furniture.
At first, you hope it’s an unusual accident. Then someone else – an old 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 Mom about her 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 a lot of great resources to help you get up to speed – definitions of incontinence, the types of incontinence, and scripts for how to have ‘The Conversation’. The short story?
- Incontinence is an involuntary physiological condition. Translation? Your Mom's issue is out of her control (right now), so stop thinking that she’s ‘letting’ this happen;
- She may not be aware of the extent of the issue;
- She has no idea what to do about it; and
- Helping her solve this is easier than you think.
Here’s your to-do list:
- Book a tele-medicine appointment with her doctor so that any medical issues can be ruled out;
- Get informed on the products your Mom might consider using today; and
- Buy, or help her buy those products online.
And then, get back to the kind of relaxing with Mom that you’d like to enjoy.
Although it may feel unfair to have to take this on, we promise we will get you through it. We get it. We’ve been there too, and promise it's fixable. Fast.
Learn about product options
Think of how athletic wear – base layers, thermals, fleece, jackets, even gloves – have improved radically since you were a kid. Well, textiles for bladder leak protection have improved as radically as well.
Through aggressive science and solid research, products are improving all the time. Your mum has excellent options that just haven’t been available in the past.
Don’t assume adult diapers are the only solution
Today’s product range is impressive, including washable or disposable underwear and pads / panty liners, or adult briefs (adult diapers), bed or chair pads, swimwear and even washcloths and skin care.
Good news - we've done the research for you. We’ve 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 mom needs – and that depends on her situation.
Understand her needs - what are her 'use cases'?
Think about your wardrobe for a second – just as you’ve got clothes for work vs 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 bathroom breaks - or overnight (ideally, when she's asleep for 6-8 hours). Which does she need? Or does she need both?
If overnight, more protection, or capacity is needed so that the product absorbs more volume. More absorption means Mom will sleep comfortably, possibly without waking up. Remember – more sleep means a better mood. And who doesn't prefer good-mood Mom?
How mobile is your Mom?
Next, how’s her mobility? Can she change clothes easily or does she need help getting out of bed and dressed? If she's still completely independent, panty liners or pads and washable, absorbent underwear are the way to go.
If she needs help getting around, disposable briefs (adult diapers) have tabs on the side so she can change without needing to take her 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 cover (1.5' x 1.5' or 19" x 19") to underpads that protect across the 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 Mom's hip / waist size?
If you think underwear, adult briefs (adult diapers), or swimwear might be in order, you'll need to know her hip size and waist. Fortunately, we have this handy graphic to show you exactly what you'll need to measure, and how to measure to get the correct information:
Focus on the numbers: is Mom leaking more or less than a glass of wine at a time?
A glass of wine is generally contains 5 fluid ounces (148 ml).
And one 'typical' adult pee? It's a little more than that - it's 8 ounces (or the size of the glass of water you're supposed to remember to drink several of per day).
You need to ask if your Mom is leaking less than a glass of wine, about a glass of wine or several glasses of wine. And, are the leaks happening all at once or over several hours?
With that information, you 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 wine, or several wines?
- 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 understand the difference between them.
To help you compare options, 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 Mom's needs right now (vs later, when he might need more protection).
In the meantime, consider these product options, each in increasing order of capacity (or protection).
Women's light bladder leak protection options
Women's Panty Liners or Pads
Women's pads 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 mother would wear them inside her regular underwear, just like a normal panty liner.
However, know that incontinence pads are different from period pads. Bladder control pads are made to absorb rapid urine loss (vs blood, which flows much more slowly), by quickly capturing and dispersing moisture to promote skin heath. Period pads smell bad if you have are using them for urine. Don't make the matter worse.
Bladder control pads use polymers and fabrics that pull urine away from the skin and neutralize pH levels to help prevent skin irritation and eliminate odour.
Bladder control pads stay in place with a strong adhesive grip. They offer daytime protection from occasional bladder leaks and feature a discreet, hour-glass shape for a comfortable fit. Slim and inconspicuous, women's pads are suitable for light bladder loss.
Women's moderate bladder leak protection options
Women's Washable Absorbent Underwear
Like regular women’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 hold anywhere from 1 (5 oz), 2 (10 oz) or even 4 (20 oz) glasses of wine!
These products are suitable for women’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 everyday use, for sports - think walking, gardening (or even running, boxing, or skipping) - and excessive perspiration. They are also a cost-effective alternative to disposable products because they can be machine washed, thrown in the dryer and worn 200+ times.
Most importantly, they look completely normal, so much so that your Mom can bring them when travelling or visiting family - and no one needs to know.
Women's Disposable Underwear
If the washable options don't appeal or cause an laundry challenges, disposable underwear for women 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 Mom the comfort and confidence she needs to get through a worry-free day.
With impermeable backsides and a cloth-like outer layers, women's disposable underwear options offer comfort, discretion and superior leakage protection over panty liners or pads. Disposable underwear are perfect if your mother 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.
Women's significant bladder leak protection options
Women's Disposable Briefs (Adult Diapers)
Women'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 Mom 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 she'll get superior protection for leakage over underwear options. In fact, some of these products can hold as much as the equivalent of nearly 9 glasses of wine (44 oz).
It’s important to point out that these briefs do not look like regular underwear so they may not be your Mom's first choice, but with the right fit (back to that hip waist size issue) they will offer a snug fit and thus be discreet under her 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 Mom's favourite chair, and lighten the laundry or upholstery cleaning 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 Mom 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 Mom moves around. The outer layer is soft and rustle-free to minimize sleep interruption.
Help your Mom buy the products she 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 Mom by getting, or helping her buy the right products for her particular needs.
My Liberty carries all the products we've explained here - you'll find them in our Women'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 mother's address. Once you and she figure out the right products, consider a subscription you can manage for your Mom at whatever frequency makes sense. They'll show up at her 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 Mom covered.
Besides, isn't it time to get back to the kind of relaxing with Mom that you want to do?
- Cindy Clegg