Incontinence is a problem for many care partners.
I’ve seen independent confident adults lose their self-esteem and become withdrawn and depressed from incontinence. Sometimes it seemed to be related to the potty training they had as toddlers. In losing the ability to control their urine and or their bowels, they may feel they have failed, or are no longer an adult.
It can be embarrassing and even a health issue if delicate skin and tissues in private areas are irritated or injured. I’ve seen the results of poor hygiene with incontinence, leading to some painful, serious even life-threatening infections.
Caregiving Tips for Incontinence include:
- Give emotional support. Your patience and understanding with not making a big issue or making fun of or being condescending can help tremendously with how your carereceiver views the situation and herself.
- Keep your sense of humor, and find ways to make light of the situation. Don’t laugh at the person with incontinence, laugh with them.
- Finding the right products, whether diapers, skin care, wipes, medications, can be viewed as a mystery needing solved or an experiment. And just like both, you may not find the answers immediately. Changes in the situation could mean that the solutions that worked last month don’t this month.
- View incontinence as a challenge not a problem. It’s a challenge that care partners need to find solutions for together. This can lead to better emotional, physical and mental health of everyone involved.
- Ask your medical team for help and suggestions.
Did you know that cloth diapers are available for adults and teens? You’ll find tips and suggestions you can customize for your situation or that may get you thinking of other solutions in this post that guest blogger Colin submitted…
Nocturnal enuresis (the clinical term for bedwetting) affects millions of youngsters worldwide. Most young people outgrow it or are able to be cured of their bedwetting using bedwetting alarms, medicines, surgery, or other methods.
What many people may not be aware of is the fact that a large percentage of adults suffer from this problem also and some of these deal with the issue their entire life. As many as 1 to 3% of adults have problems staying dry at night, and could be significantly higher. It’s likely the real figures may never be known due to the stigma surrounding adult bedwetting.
Cheryl B. Gartley, president of the Simon Foundation for Continence says, “Bedwetting is a closet issue within the closet issue of incontinence.”
These individuals resort to wearing some form of protection to bed such as disposable diapers, cloth diapers, or plastic pants. Unfortunately the public stigmatizes them because bedwetting is often viewed more negatively than other forms of incontinence. Why this is so is puzzling.
People suffering from bedwetting are reluctant to form relationships with people. Imagine having to tell your significant other you have to wear diapers and plastic pants to bed! And they are reluctant to spend the night at friends’ houses. Additionally business trips can be a nightmare for the adult plagued by bedwetting.
I have personal experience in this area as you can see from my bio. I’m writing this to let adults know that they are in good company and that there’s no reason to be ashamed of wearing adult diapers to deal with the problem.
My solution is to manage the issue by wearing an adult size pin-on style cloth diaper covered with an adult size pair of plastic pants (or “rubber pants” as they’re known by many people even though this is a misnomer). Although some may be a bit hesitant to use safety pins and may consider them old-fashioned, this style of diapering is easier to use than you think, plus this type of diaper works wonders for keeping the bed dry – with pin-on style cloth diapers you have a great deal of flexibility with folding and fitting the diapers as well as how many absorbent layers you can add to the diaper.
I wear the “Leakmaster Nighttime Prefold Adult Cloth Diapers” (I use the gauze diapers) covered with the “Leakmaster Deluxe” adult size pull on plastic pants. For those individuals who may not have any experience taking care of babies in cloth diapers or may not be familiar with cloth diapers, these pants are an adult size version of the baby pants used to cover cloth diapers worn by infants. The “Leakmaster Deluxe” plastic pants are made of a thick vinyl making them more durable than other plastic pants. Plus they have vinyl-enclosed elastic on both the leg and waistbands that help prevent leaks and improve the wicking ability of the pants (wicking refers to the capability of the garment to absorb or draw off liquid).
The company I buy both the diapers and plastic pants from is called “All Together Enterprises” and their website is Adultclothdiaper.com. I line the adult diaper with the Gerber brand flat and prefold baby cloth diapers that I purchase from Wal-Mart. I also have the bed covered with plastic sheeting – I use 12 gauge frosted clear vinyl, which I buy from Jo-Ann Fabric. This combination does an excellent job protecting the bed.
There are also a number of brands of disposable briefs (also known as “adult diapers”) available for managing heavier forms of incontinence such as bedwetting. I have used these as well to manage my bedwetting and have found them to be an effective means to cope with this problem. Disposable briefs are form fitting garments that have the same fit and design as baby diapers such as Pampers, Luvs, and Huggies – they have an “hourglass” shape, tapes for fastening the garments, elastic leg gathers to prevent leaks (many also have an elastic waistband to prevent leaks), and they also have either a waterproof plastic or cloth like outer layer.
Some brands of disposable briefs that are good for managing bedwetting include:
- ConfiDry 24/7
- Wellness Superio Signature briefs
- TotalDry X-Plus briefs
- Molicare Super Plus briefs
- Abena Abri-Form X-Plus briefs
- Absorbency Plus Level 4 briefs
- Seni Quatro briefs
- ID Slip Maxi briefs
- Tena Super briefs and Stretch Super briefs
- Tena Slip Maxi
- Provider’s Choice Active Ultra Plus
- Forsite AM PM Maximum Absorbency briefs (available from Age Comfort a Canadian online retailer that ships to the U.S.)
- NorthShore Supreme and
- EuroBrief made by Mediprime.
Although within the past 20 years or so most forms of incontinence seem to carry fewer stigmas than they used to, the same cannot be said of adult bedwetting, unfortunately. There are a number of ways to deal with the problem in a humorous fashion. For instance, when telling your significant other that you wet the bed here is something you can say to lighten the mood if you use cloth diapers and plastic pants to manage your bedwetting…
“Our local theater group is doing a play on Paul Banyan and these are props from the play. These are Paul Bunyan’s baby clothes – these are his diapers and his baby pants.”
This is just one of many things you can say to your loved one to break the news that you wear nighttime protection because you wet the bed and is taken from my wikiHow article How to Tell a Significant Other You Wear Diapers for Bedwetting written under my pen name Colin Ellison. It’s important that you wear some type of heavy duty protection at night if you still have problems with peeing in bed, especially if you are dating someone or married – after all you don’t want to pee all over your partner!
Here’s a suggestion that may help care partners come to terms with wearing diapers:
“Change the definition of diaper. Most definitions of diaper define it as being a garment worn by babies. If I were responsible for writing the definition of diaper found in dictionaries I’d write something like this:
‘An absorbent, waterproof, protective undergarment made of either reusable or disposable material which is drawn up between the legs and fastened at the waist by tape tabs, safety pins, or other methods. It is designed for managing episodes of incontinence experienced by individuals of all ages, including babies, young children before they are potty trained, and adults, in addition to providing protection for individuals that wet the bed.’ “
I hope this post helps those adults suffering from adult bedwetting realize that they are not alone – there are plenty of us in the same leaky boat!
Colin is a 48 year-old man who has had nocturnal enuresis throughout his childhood and has frequent nighttime accidents as an adult. His research into bedwetting led him to share the information with those affected. You can find out more on his blog Tips on Managing Bedwetting, which lists a number of resources for nocturnal enuresis.
Share your experiences with incontinence in the comments section.
To your Happy & Healthy Caregiving,
Ina Gilmore MD
Purple Angel Dementia Ambassador
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