How to choose incontinence products for your parents
Choosing incontinence protection products for parents is a special kind of torment
It can be one of those awful moments in life – noticing that your parent may be having incontinence troubles. Maybe you catch a whiff on clothes. Maybe you notice stains on clothing or 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 are going to have to have the talk about 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 lots of great resources to help – explanations of men's incontinence vs women's incontinence, 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? The issue is out of your parent's control (right now), so stop thinking that he or she is ‘letting’ this happen;
- He or she might not even be aware of the extent of the issue, or they have no idea what to do about it;
- Finding a solution is easier than you think.
Once you wrap your head around the fact that bladders aren't leaking just to make your life difficult, then you can get on with the fix.
A very simple to-do list:
- Make an appointment with the 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 parent might consider using today; and
- Get, or help get those products ordered and in the bathroom, today.
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. Well, textiles for bladder leak protection have improved as radically.
Through aggressive science and solid research, products are improving all the time. There are options—and excellence—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 underwear liners, or adult briefs (adult diapers), bed or chair pads, swimwear and even washcloths and skin care solutions.
Good news - we've done the research 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 parent needs – and that depends on the use case.
Determine the range of use cases
Think about your wardrobe – just like 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?
Know that incontinence products are developed for either daytime - lighter protection that catches leaks between bathroom breaks - or overnight (ideally, when asleep for 6-8 hours). Which situation is your parent facing? Or does your parent need both?
If overnight, more protection, or capacity, is needed so that the product absorbs more volume over a longer time period. More absorption means your parent will sleep comfortably, possibly without waking up. Remember – more sleep means a better mood. And who doesn't prefer good-mood Mom or or great-mood Dad?
How mobile is your parent?
If they need help getting around, disposable briefs (adult diapers) have tabs on the side to change without needing to take 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.
Believe it or not, they come in a decent range of colours to better blend in with blankets, throws and furniture.
What's is your parent's hip and waist size?
If you think underwear, adult briefs (adult diapers) or swimwear might be in order, you'll need to know hip and waist 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 parent leaking more or less than a beer or wine at a time?
Start with the numbers – 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.
Alternatively, a glass of wine is generally contains 5 fluid ounces (148 ml), or a little less than one adult pee. Or 'void' if you're feeling queasy...
You need to figure out if your parent is leaking far less than a beer or wine at a time – maybe over several hours - or, far more, and how quickly.
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 figure out 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 parents needs right now (vs later, when he might need more protection).
In the meantime, consider these product options, each in increasing order of capacity.
Light bladder leak protection options
Men's Underwear Shields, Guards, Pads or Liners
Women's Underwear Pads or Liners
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 Mom or Dad would wear them inside regular underwear.
Liners stay in place with a strong adhesive grip. They offer daytime protection from occasional bladder leaks and are shaped differently for women (hour glass) vs men (cup shaped). Slim and inconspicuous, guards or pads are suitable for light bladder loss.
Moderate bladder leak protection options
Men's Washable Absorbent Underwear
Women's Washable Absorbent Underwear
Like regular 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 from 5 oz to 10 oz all the way up to 20 ounces, over 12 hours.
These products are suitable for 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 or gardening and everyday use, and are a cost-effective alternative to disposable products as they can be machine washed and worn hundreds of times.
Most importantly for your parent's dignity, they look completely normal.
If the washable options don't appeal, or cause laundry challenges, disposable underwear 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, take off and throw out, and will give your parent the comfort and confidence to get through a worry-free day.
Men's Disposable Underwear
Women's Disposable Underwear
With impermeable backsides and a cloth-like outer layers, disposable underwear options offer comfort, discretion and superior leakage protection over guards or underwear liners. Disposable underwear are perfect if your parent 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 sibling's place. If there is an accident, no worries. Grab a new pair and get on with the day - no muss, no fuss.
Significant bladder leak protection options
Disposable briefs (with tabs on the side that make them easy to open / close), also called adult diapers—are yet another option if your parent is out and about but is worried about possibly having to change in a public washroom.
Men's Disposable Briefs (Adult Diapers)
Women's Disposable Briefs (Adult Diapers)
With disposable briefs, the side tabs make changing quick and easy, and your parent will get superior protection for leakage over incontinence underwear. In fact, some of these products can hold as much as the equivalent of 44 oz.
It’s important to point out that these briefs do not look like regular underwear so they may not be your parent's first choice, but with the right fit (back to that hip size issue) they will offer a snug fit and be discreet under 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 parents favourite chair, and lighten the laundry load.
These range in size from a 'standard' chair cover (1.5'x1.5' or 19"x19") to pads that go across the bed, or even cover the full length of a twin mattress.
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 parents 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.
Underpads offer rapid absorption with strong, cloth-like backsheets that resist tearing as your parents moves around. The outer layer is soft and rustle-free to minimize sleep interruption.
Help your parents get the products he might consider using today
We're at the 3rd and final to-do; helping your parent by getting, or helping them get the right products for their needs.
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 order.
We deliver across Canada, and we can ship the products directly to your parents' address. Once you figure out the right products, we can automatically restock an order at whatever frequency makes sense. The products will show up magically, just like any other online order.
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 parents covered.
Besides, isn't it time to get back to the kind hanging out with that you want to do?
- Cindy Clegg