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Monday, October 14, 2013

Caring Conversations: How to Talk About Adult Diapers with Your Aging Parent

Talking to an aging parent about his or her incontinence can be a difficult task. Your parent may be embarrassed, or unwilling to accept the fact that adult diapers are now a necessity. The key to starting any conversation about incontinence is to go into the situation with empathy. This might be an uncomfortable subject for your parent; even though the conversation may be necessary, it can make your parent feel helpless or older than they feel. Here are some tips for how to approach parents with dignity and respect to get them to try incontinence products.

Choose Your Words Carefully

Calling an incontinence product a diaper may sound demeaning to your parents. They are likely to associate this term with babies – as do most of us – so they think of diapers as something for helpless people who can’t care for themselves. Call the incontinence products pads, absorbent briefs, or any other name you can come up with. By changing the terms, you may be able to frame the situation in a way that is more accepted by your elderly parent.

Involve a Doctor

Sometimes the opinion of an outside person can be taken to heart more than one that comes from someone in our inner circle. To that end, involving a doctor in your conversation may be able to convince your parent that he or she does indeed have an issue with the bladder and require some help. Get a second opinion if you need to in order to convince your parent to get adult diapers. Encourage your parent to ask questions and be very involved in the conversation, so there is not a sense that you and the doctor are making a decision without your parent’s input.

Address Possible Depression

If your elderly parent is isolated, and suffers from other medical issues, he or she may have begun to feel depressed. Feelings of loneliness or hopelessness can make it difficult for older adults to care enough to address their incontinence issues. Show compassion about your parent’s feelings and general state of mind. If there are depression symptoms present, offer to get help for that first. Once depression is addressed, your parent may be more receptive to treating other conditions like incontinence and search for the right cheap diapers.

Accept Their Denial

Sometimes your parents may not be willing to address incontinence, and you need to take a step back and let them come to their own conclusions. Perhaps in the future things will change, but if you’re too pushy about the issue your words may actually backfire and you could make your parent defensive. Sometimes you can only offer help and then stand back and step back in when your parent is ready.

Talking about incontinence and wearing an adult diaper is a difficult conversation, but it can also be an essential one if you want your parent to become more active. By showing empathy and changing your language, you may be able to open up a caring dialogue.

Leonardo Dawson runs a senior center in a small New England town. On his days off, he likes to help people by posting what he has learned on various blog sites.

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