Incontinence: Convincing an Elderly Parent to Wear Adult Diapers

incontinence convincing an elderly parent to wear adult diapers

While growing older can bring a wonderful sense of wisdom and the satisfaction of a life well lived, there are not-so-desirable situations that can accompany the aging process. For some seniors, incontinence is (understandably) the thing they dread most. As such, they can be in denial about needing adult diapers as an important, sanitary and healthy next step for their day-to-day life.

If you suspect your elderly parent, or a senior you love, needs to take that dreaded next step, here are some things you can do to help ease their transition.

5 Steps to Convincing a Parent/Client to Wear Adult Diapers

  1. Do NOT call them diapers. One of the best things your family and team of caregivers can do is to scratch the word “diaper” from the vernacular. These are not diapers. Diapers are for babies. These are “disposable underwear or briefs,” “adult briefs,” or whatever term you all decide upon. The word diaper can be very offensive and insulting to a senior who is having understandable resistance to losing control of his/her life.
  2. Have samples available. Many seniors are so abhorred by the idea of wearing disposable underwear that they envision huge, bulky, baby-like diapers that will be obvious through their clothing. This is simply not the case anymore. Absorbent materials have come a long way and disposable underwear is thinner than ever. The best products pull up and down, just like regular underwear. By having some samples on hand to show him/her how thin, comfortable, and completely un-noticeable they are, you may eliminate a major part of the battle. Visit the websites of various disposable underwear companies. Most of them will have a place you can click to request free samples.
  3. Gently tell them you have noticed. Many seniors aren’t able to smell as well as they used to, or they have become used to the smell and don’t realize how prevalent it is. If you are comfortable enough to have a gentle conversation, making them aware their incontinence is noticed by others, this may be enough to get them over the initial hurdle. Many seniors are much more embarrassed by the idea that they smell like urine around family and in public than they are about wearing disposable underwear. If that is not an option, and you feel it would be impossible for you, move on to #4.
  4. Enlist the help of a doctor or other health care provider. Remember when you were a child? It was always easier to follow instructions or hear constructive comments from other adults, rather than your own parents. Convincing an elderly parent or loved one to wear adult disposable underwear is a flipped version of that. If a doctor, caregiver, or home health provider is the one to suggest or prescribe them, explaining the unsanitary and unpleasant side-effects of untreated incontinence, the transition might be made easier than you think.
  5. Be Pro-active. If you feel the conversation is completely out of the question, it may be time to get pro-active and see what happens. We have clients who simply opened the drawer, replaced some of their loved one’s underwear with a stack of disposable underwear, and didn’t say a thing. A few days or a week later, they find the disposables have been used and they simply continue to replace them without ever having a conversation. Eventually, you can begin leaving the package in their bathroom or bedroom where they will have an ample supply.

Incontinence is something that many senior citizens and their families dread talking about, but the more respectful, gentle, and creative you are, the more likely seniors are to be receptive to the idea of wearing adult diapers.


  1. I had to return to diapers due to being a diabetic.The stigma was bad but better than wet pants.

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