Adult absorbent incontinence products refers to a category of products that absorb urine (and some absorb feces), including what most people refer to as “adult diapers”. These products are either disposable or reusable (they can be washed and used again). They are designed for both men and women of all ages and sizes. In addition to disposable or reusable products, there are a variety of different types of absorbent products, including “panty liner” styles, full briefs (pull-on or pull-up styles), and booster pads (placed as a liner inside of a brief). Adult absorbent products are not a treatment for incontinence, but a way to manage incontinence during treatments, during recovery from surgery or an illness, or until a treatment can be found.
Most people who have experienced incontinence of any kind have used adult absorbent incontinence products at one time or another. If you are using adult absorbent products, it is always important to speak to a medical professional about incontinence so that they can properly rule out any serious underlying cause. They will also help you find the treatment option that works best for you. Sometimes there may not be an appropriate treatment option available, and you may choose to continue wearing adult absorbent products. Also, occasional or slight leakage may occur even after you receive a treatment, and so some sort of protection may still be needed on an ongoing basis (as often happens when on medication or after a surgery for the treatment of incontinence).
Things to Consider
Adult absorbent products can be bought at a local drugstore, online, or through a home-delivery service. Absorbent products offer the security of knowing that should leakage occur, something is in place to absorb it. For some people with incontinence, adult absorbent products are a more appealing option than surgery or medication.
However, there is an ongoing cost associated with using these products, and Medicare does not cover the cost of these products. You may feel self-conscious using the products due to possible bulkiness or noise, although manufacturers are constantly working on improving the fit and styling of these products. Also new materials make less noise than those of a few years ago. Do realize that many people feel embarrassed buying the products, and so buying them online or through a delivery program may help reduce the embarrassment.
Use the Right Absorbent Product
There are many factors to consider when choosing an adult absorbent product: flexibility for your activity level; products for men or for women; size; absorbency level; disposable vs. reusable. Take all these factors into consideration when looking for a product. You might even find that one product is best for at night, another for working at your desk during the day, and a third for being out and active, like playing golf or going for walks. Try not to look at the price tags first and instead choose based on your needs – you might even find that a more expensive product will give you better coverage and thus cost you less in the long run.
About Absorbent “Booster Pads”
Booster pads can be purchased as liners for absorbent briefs, increasing the absorbency and protection. It’s important to note that unlike regular pads, boosters don’t have a waterproof backing. After the booster fills to capacity, the overflow will flow thru to the absorbent brief beneath.
About Skin Care
Keeping the skin that comes into contact with urine or a bowel movement clean and dry is important. When changing absorbent products wash the perineal area with mild soap (not deodorant) and warm water, then pat the skin dry (do not rub). Application of a skin ointment can further protect the skin.
Avoid Using Menstrual Pads as Incontinence Products
Many women use menstrual pads when they begin to experience incontinence. Menstrual pads aren’t designed to absorb urine and don’t provide the coverage and protection that pads designed for incontinence will provide.
Shopping for Adult Absorbent Incontinence Products from Home
Often, people are embarrassed to purchase adult absorbent products at their neighborhood drug or grocery store. You may want to consider using a service that delivers these products to your home. They usually come in an unmarked box, and sometimes the company will mail you free or low-cost samples if you ask. To find many of the companies that provide this service and absorbent products, access Continence Central, our website for consumer products.
Medical Reviewer: Mary Ann Anichini, GNP-BC
Ms. Anichini has an undergraduate nursing degree from Loyola University of Chicago and a Masters in nursing sciences from University of Illinois School of Public Health Nursing. She is a certified Geriatric Nurse Practitioner and has worked with older adults in community and institutional settings since 1977. Her work has been involved in the design and development of educational modules for caregivers of the frail elderly with Presbyterian Homes of Chicago, Methodist Homes and Services, The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, The University of Illinois School of Social Work, The National Alzheimer’s Association and The Presbyterian Homes. She has focused on the implementation of “best practices” in the long term care setting. Of greatest interest, are those practices that have the greatest potential to impact quality of life for much of the nursing home population (e.g., Restorative Nursing, Hydration, Bowel Hygiene, and Continence). Currently, Ms. Anichini is currently employed at Hollister Incorporated, a medical device manufacturer that develops and sells devices for Ostomy, Wound Care, and Continence Care.