10 Tips to Prevent and Minimize Adult Diaper Leaks

Help your loved one feel more secure and improve their quality of life.

By Clare Absher RN, BSN  

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Elderly Woman Care Free from Diaper Leaks

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Urinary or bowel incontinence may cause feelings of shame or embarrassment in addition to physical discomfort and disruption of daily life. Adult diapers are an easy yet imperfect solution to managing incontinence, partly because of potential leakages. Each brand (Tena, Prevail, Attends, etc.) offers unique barrier technologies to prevent leaks, but still nothing is guaranteed.

The key to fixing a leak is to figure out the underlying cause (size, fit, style, absorbency, etc.) Then, you can focus on incontinence products with features that target the leakage source. If your loved one is dependent on adult diapers, follow these steps to help them feel more secure and improve their quality of life.

1. Request samples from several manufacturers to experiment with leakage barriers, fluid capacity, and best fit. Encourage your loved one to stay close to home when trying out these new products to avoid embarrassing incidents out in public.

2. Use a protective underpad often referred to as a bed pad or "chux" on bed linens and furniture to avoid soiling accidents while trying out new products. Use underpads anytime you need to manage leakage accidents more efficiently.

3. Find the diaper size that fits your loved one the best. Sizes range from Youth/Small to 4XL. Too big will leak at gaps in the legs or waist, and too small will not provide enough coverage.

4. Explore bariatric diapers for your larger sized loved ones that are heavy duty and designed to accommodate their extra weight or large frame. On the other hand for older children, adolescents or petite framed adults, the youth sizes will likely be a better option.

5. Consider using a "brief" style with flexible tabs for a more contoured fit rather than pull-ups or protective underwear. They have specially designed leg openings and side panels to prevent leakage. Experiment with plastic backing versus cloth-like backing to see which is preferred.

6. Look for a product that is highly absorbent as this plays a critical role in handling heavy volume reflex incontinence or constant dribbling of urine. Certain brands such as Tranquility provide absorbency in ounces, while other brands offer visual diagrams of their absorbency levels.

7. Try the gender-specific products that are designed to fit men or women shapes. Men's briefs feature a more absorbent polymer in the front, while female counterparts target the core area.

8. Rely on highly absorbent nighttime / extended wear diapers for your loved ones with heavy or continuous loss of urine. The overnight diapers are also designed to manage fecal incontinence which occurs more often during the night.

9. Apply booster pads that are made to fit inside the diaper to enhance the absorbency and reduce the need for diaper changes. The flow through design allows urine to be absorbed in the booster pad first and then overflow to the primary diaper.

10. Change diapers often to prevent leaks and skin breakdown. Apply skin barrier products generously with each change to protect the skin from exposure to irritating urine and feces.

Be patient and expect some trial and error when trying out the assorted disposable diapers on the market in order to find the best solution for your loved one. Don't skimp on these simple steps as finding the right diaper will save time, money and dignity in the long run.

Clare Absher RN BSN

About the Author

Clare Absher is a Registered Nurse with 44 years of experience. Most of her experience is in home health serving as a caregiver, educator, patient advocate, and liaison between families and community resources. She has also worked in acute care, assisted living, and retirement settings. She is passionate about helping families care for their elderly loved ones at home.

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