Date: April 15, 2021

Author: Jayne Stewart


Bladder or bowel incontinence is a sensitive and embarrassing subject for both aging parents and their adult children.

How do you start the conversation about adults wearing diapers with the person who once changed yours? Well, that “Depends!”

The image of an adult in diapers is not one most people can accept for themselves or their spouse, so the suggestion must be handled with compassion when approaching your parents.

Chances are they are already struggling with their inability to make it to the bathroom before an accident happens. Their embarrassment is compounded when they realize other people have become aware of their problem, especially if it’s their own children.

You might be able to open the conversation by saying something like, “Mom, I didn’t realize how many adults wear diapers or have bladder control problems until I paid attention to the adult diaper commercials on TV. I wonder how many adults in the US wear diapers?”

She may respond by saying something like” I hate the word diapers! I wish there were another word for adult diapers or an alternative to adult diapers. The word strips older people of their dignity.”

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Here’s your opportunity to ask some questions.

Why do adults wear diapers?

Ask your mom (or dad) if they’re having issues with bladder control. They may talk about one or more of the followingsymptoms.

  • Leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, or laughing.
  • Sudden, unexpected urge to urinate that can’t be controlled.
  • Accidents happening without warning.
  • Getting up several times during the night to urinate.
  • Urinating while asleep.
  • Being unaware of urine or bowel leakage.

How to get elderly parents to wear Depends.

So, once you determine mom or dad has bladder control problems the question becomes, what now?

Word choices are very important when discussing the need for adult diapers. Try to choose age-appropriate words such as briefs, pads, disposable underwear, or even the brand name Depends. Remember, you are trying to accomplish a goal while preserving your parent’s dignity.

Here are a few tips for persuading your parent to consider disposal briefs.

  1. Explain to your parent that wearing disposable briefs will not only protect their clothing, but it will also provide protection against the humiliation of wetting or soiling their clothing in public.
  2. Talk about the odor problem. Briefs are not only comfortable and absorbent, but they can also help control tell-tale urine odor.
  3. Assure your parent that disposable briefs are very discreet and will not show or be noticeable under their clothing.
  4. Remind your parent that social experiences will be much more enjoyable when the stress of worrying about an accident is eliminated.

If your parent cannot dress independently because of a medical condition or dementia, you may have to learn how to use diapers for adults and assist with putting them on.

Most brands are fashioned exactly like cloth underwear. The wearer steps into them and pulls them up. To remove the brief, the sides are made to pull apart easily for removal and disposal.

Some brands are made like children’s diapers with re-sealable tabs on both sides. This type of product is usually used by adults who cannot manage their own hygiene.

No one wants to admit they can no longer control their bodily functions. With the right words, compassion, and understanding you can help your parent overcome this obstacle to living a full and enjoyable life.

If you can help your loved one maintain self-respect and pride as they age, they can live a full life with all the joy and happiness they deserve.


Date: April 15, 2021

Author: Jayne Stewart


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*The Griswold service model varies depending on which state the office is in. In some states, our service is solely to refer thoroughly screened professional caregivers. In other states, we employ and supervise the caregivers. In every state, we're 100% focused on quality services and responsiveness to your needs. For each office, you'll see its service model and learn how we can best help you and your family with your home care needs. (See item 7 and item 19 of our current FDD for additional information.)