Aging is an inevitable process that affects each of us. In Singapore alone, it is predicted that by 2030, 1 in 4 Singaporeans will be aged 65 years and over. With aging, comes the decline of our body functions for many who are not coping well.
I know this for a fact from personal experience dealing with my aging parents. My father passed away at 103 and my mother at 96, and both were still at the peak of health back when they were in their late 80’s. When they were in their 80’s, they lived independently and were still capable of many daily activities, including climbing stairs to their bedroom in their 2-storey maisonette.
It was not until their 90’s did they begin to show signs of dependency, the first being the inability to control their urinating habits and sometimes their bowel movements. They would ‘leak’ when they are lying down resting or when they are walking slowly to the bathroom.
We finally convinced them to hire a domestic helper who can care for them and assist them in their daily chores. I felt that this was a better option than to place them in a “home for the aged”.
Soon it also became a hassle for the maid to clean up their ‘leaks’ on the floor (when they slowly made their way to the bathroom) and I had a difficult time trying to convince them to use “adult diapers” for incontinence. To my aging parents, wearing incontinence diapers seems to be about ‘losing dignity’. But when my father became more bed-dependent because of his deteriorating mobility, he knew he had to wear incontinence diapers. It took more convincing for my mother to change over; it was not until she could see the trail of urine behind her path that she accepted the inevitable.
Both started to wear incontinence diapers and the maid was shown how to assist them when it was time to change “diapers”. I thought that took care of the hygiene problem with their incontinence until I found out that every night, my father was tearing off his incontinence diapers and wetting the bed.
Was the plastic incontinence diaper uncomfortable, or was it a habit for a grown man to undo his pants to urinate? I did not understand the reason until it dawned on me that a soaking wet diaper would be uncomfortable on our body. The maid had to be up frequently at night to assist in changing diapers – this was as bad as having another baby in the family to care for in the night!
How did I deal with this? I googled and found out that there were different types of incontinence diapers, each with their distinct capacity for absorption of liquids. These are stated in the respective packaging. We have not considered this aspect in our purchases, so now we have one type for day-use and another (larger volume) for overnight use.
Did this solve the problem? Yes, for a couple of weeks, it was better. Then it started again.
Further investigation and contemplation on this matter led me to test the actual absorption capabilities of the better-known brands. I was surprised to find that, although brands are classified for large liquid absorption capacities, their absorption rates differ. I sacrificed several diapers in my own ‘diaper test’ by pouring water on their inner paddings. Some brands absorbed the water quicker than others – this means that with a higher liquid absorption rate, the wearer would not ‘feel’ the discomfort of dampness immediately after urinating. Those that had lower absorption rates would have made the wearer feel discomfort with the ‘dampness’ while waiting for the padding to dry again after full liquid absorption.
It then struck upon me to start looking for night incontinence diaper brands with better absorption rates, and I found that these are usually priced higher than the normal ones. Among various brands, there is a local Singapore brand that has addressed this issue and has shown it in a usability test (https://www.bwgeneration.com/adult-diapers-pullups-pants-compare-performance-adult-daipers/)
Incontinence will become an unavoidable inconvenience for our aging population. Sometimes, a healthy older person may slowly become incontinent because of medication (side-effects) or weak muscles (wavering exercise routine). They will have to come to terms about wearing incontinence diapers or pants. It is important to be informed about the different types of incontinence diapers available in the market for your older parents, particularly those addressing the comfort fit and feel for overnight use – this would mean a lot for the sake of everyone in the household, including the maid/carer.
Babies on diapers cry when they feel discomfort, but adult on diapers – well, they can tear off the diapers and wet the bed. It’s messier.
If your employer has old parents in this category, you may want to help him/her in the purchase decision on incontinence diapers. It is not always appropriate to make a decision based on price because comfort for their parents should come first.
If you look after your employer’s ‘ah gong’ or ‘ah mah’, perhaps you have a similar situation to share here.
If your parents are facing incontinence, you too may have a story or concern to share here.