The Search for Protective Undergarments
Most people don’t realize that 25 million Americans are living with some form of incontinence. What caregivers need to know is that there are product options to minimize public embarrassment and personal frustration when it comes to incontinence.
Urge and functional incontinence are the most common kinds in the elderly. Urge incontinence is typically referred to as overactive bladder, and is when a loved one feels the need to urinate often, more than seven times a day.
Functional incontinence, on the other hand, is caused by a specific condition such as Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis or Parkinson’s disease. A loved one with this type of incontinence is physically or cognitively challenged to determine when/where to use the restroom.
Below is a list of incontinence products, and the level of care they each provide:
Briefs are often referred to as “adult diapers” and have side tape tabs for easy on/off by caregivers. These types of products offer complete protection for both men and women, whether minor incontinence or major loss of bladder/bowel control.
For men, this product can be in the form of a boxer-style undergarment, which resembles regular boxer underwear. They are as or more absorbent than traditional pull-on products and for men, have extra protection in the areas it is most needed.
For women, these are usually in brief style and have tear-away sides for a more real underwear feel and appearance.
These products offer some protection from leaking, but not quite enough for a full urination void. The sides are open for air circulation to the skin, and held in place by an elastic strap. Buttons make belted undergarments easy for a caregiver to remove.
The least amount of incontinence protection comes in the form of pads and inserts. They attach directly to a loved one’s own underwear and are available in a variety of absorbencies. For men, guards provide another layer of protection.
Once a decision has been made on the type of product, the fit is next on the to-do list. If the product is too large, it will leak. If it’s too small, it will cause skin marking and be uncomfortable, but also leak if it fills very fast. The leg area is an important one to have a secure fit, as more than 80 percent of leaks occur at the rear buttock area of a loved one’s leg.
Incontinence products, when chosen and then changed properly, can boost self-esteem, independence and overall health for a loved one. Good hygiene and regular changes each day will prevent skin rashes and odors. The first products hit the market in the 1970s and since then, great advancements have been made in the comfort and also spectrum of products available to loved ones today.
Today’s Caregiver magazine (caregiver.com), launched in 1995, is the first national magazine for all family and professional caregivers. Each issue includes articles on vital caregiving issues and caregiving resources. Cover interviews include Debbie Reynolds, Dixie Carter, Valerie Harper, Della Reese and Clay Aiken, among many others. © Caregiver.com, Inc.