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Adult Diapers

A guide to adult diapers and finding the right products for your needs

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Adult diapers are useful for older adults who have incontinence and need some extra support. While it can appear to be embarrassing, incontinence is common among seniors and nothing to be ashamed of. It's a normal part of getting older!

The great news is there are many ways to get support for incontinence. Whether you're looking for adult diapers for yourself or a loved one, there are plenty of options to meet your needs. In this guide, we'll cover the types of adult diapers, how to choose the best option, where to buy them, how much they cost, and other adult incontinence products that may help.

Types of Adult Diapers

When it comes to adult diapers, there are three different types: pull-up, tabbed, and cloth. The type of adult diaper you'll need depends on how much absorbency you're looking for, your lifestyle, and your preferences. By choosing the type of adult diaper that best fits your needs, your day-to-day life will be much more comfortable.

Pull-Up Diapers

Made of cloth-like materials, pull-up diapers are best for seniors who are independent. They're also known as incontinence underwear or adult briefs. With pull-up diapers, you'll feel less of a change because they're designed to look and feel like regular underwear. If you live an active lifestyle and have light to moderate incontinence, pull-up diapers are an excellent choice.

What We Like About Pull-up Diapers

  • They are discreet and won't show through clothing.
  • They are lighter and quieter than other adult diapers.
  • They fit and feel like underwear.
  • They are easy to use.

Things to Keep in Mind About Pull-up Diapers

  • They soak up only light to medium urine voids.
  • They cost more than tabbed diapers.
  • You need to undress to change pull-ups.


Tabbed Diapers

Tabbed diapers are a great option for older adults who have limited mobility. They're best for seniors who have more incontinence or are bedridden and need assistance from a caregiver. This type of diaper usually offers moderate to maximum absorbency and is more fitted at the leg to prevent leaks.

What We Like About Tabbed Diapers

  • They offer protection from bladder and bowel incontinence.
  • Their fit can be adjusted.
  • They are easier to change without undressing.
  • They cost less than pull-ups that offer the same absorbency.

Things to Keep in Mind About Tabbed Diapers

  • They're bulkier than pull-up diapers.
  • They may require some practice to get used to.


Cloth Diapers

An eco-friendly alternative to disposable diapers, cloth diapers are usually made from cotton, flannel, or terry cloth. They're also cost-effective, as they can be washed and used repeatedly. Cloth diapers are used with rubber or plastic pants, which are waterproof incontinence pants worn over cloth diapers to prevent leaks.

These are ideal for seniors who are immobile and have a caregiver to help them, as they provide more comfort. Cloth diapers are less likely to cause irritation than other types of adult diapers, making them a solid choice for those with sensitive skin. They're also great for those who have moderate incontinence and prefer cloth diapers for their needs.

What We Like About Cloth Diapers

  • They're reusable.
  • They enable you to save money over time.
  • They offer more styles and prints to choose from.
  • They're more comfortable and less likely to cause skin irritation.

Things to Keep in Mind About Cloth Diapers

  • They're expensive to purchase upfront.
  • You need to use them with plastic or rubber pants.
  • It takes effort to keep washing them.
  • They offer lower absorbency levels.

FYI: Are you looking for a caregiver? Check out our guide on how to find and hire the right caregiver.

Tips for Choosing an Adult Diaper

When shopping for an adult diaper, there are some important factors to consider. By knowing what to look for, you can find the adult diaper that best suits your needs and lifestyle.

Absorbency

It's important to choose the right absorbency because you may need to change diapers more often if the absorbance is too low. Adult diaper brands usually offer absorbency levels including light, moderate, heavy, and overnight, so choose the right one for you. You may need to try a few different brands’ absorbency levels to see which one works best.

Size

Sizing differs depending on the diaper brand, so make sure to have the measurements for your stomach and hips. You'll also need the measurement for the distance from your waist in front to your waist in the back. To find the right size, check the measurements listed on the diaper packaging.

The right size matters because a diaper that is too small can cause skin irritation, while a diaper that is too big will create leaks. When finding the right fit, take the time to try on different brands to see which fit is most comfortable for you.

Backing Material

Most diapers have either a cloth-like or plastic backing. The type of backing material that suits you best will depend on your needs.

If you have lighter incontinence, using a cloth-like backing material may be better — it will feel more like underwear and is quiet underneath your clothing. If you have heavier incontinence, a plastic backing material will protect your clothing, prevent leakage, and give you the support you need.

Odor Elimination

Some adult diaper brands offer odor elimination, which neutralizes the bacteria in urine and fecal matter. If you're concerned about odors while using adult diapers, look for terms like “moisture-wicking” or “odor shield.” Choosing diapers that eliminate odor can make you feel more comfortable throughout the day. Plus, you'll have to worry less about feeling self-conscious because it'll help your diaper stay discreet.

Did You Know: Incontinence isn't just associated with aging: a quarter to a third of men and women in the U.S. have urinary incontinence.1

Where to Buy Adult Diapers

If you're looking for adult diapers, there are many places you can purchase them. Whether you prefer getting them in-store or online, you can make sure to get the size, fit, and absorbency that you need. Below is a list of popular stores that carry adult diapers.

Drugstores and Retail Stores

Drugstores and retail stores may offer a limited variety of adult diaper brands, but they're a great choice if you prefer to pick up your diapers in person. Occasionally, stores have sales on adult diapers, so you can take advantage if you see deals on your favorite brands.

Here are a few drugstores and retail stores that carry adult diapers:

  • Walgreens
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • CVS

Online Stores

Online stores tend to carry more brands since most of them specialize in adult incontinence products. They're a great resource and offer valuable information if you're still trying to find the right diaper for you. Plus, many online stores give you the option to purchase in bulk, which allows you to save in the long run.

Here are some online stores we'd recommend that carry adult diapers:

How Much Do Adult Diapers Cost?

A 20-count pack of adult diapers for moderate incontinence typically costs anywhere from $22-$25. Diapers for heavy or overnight absorbency may cost more, with an average of $22-$30.

When taking into account the price of adult diapers, it may help to calculate the monthly cost to see how it fits into your finances. Those with moderate incontinence usually use two to four diapers per day. That means the monthly cost of diapers will average $80 to $160.

The cost of adult diapers will also depend on your particular needs and preferences, including absorbency, material, and leak guards.

If you're looking to save on adult diapers, here are some options that may help:

  • Medicaid: Adult diapers are covered by Medicaid if medically necessary, so check to see if you qualify.
  • Diaper samples: Some companies, including NorthShore Care and Comfort Plus, offer free samples of diapers. If you're looking for the right size and fit, this is an easy, cost-effective way to try diapers.
  • Purchase Online: You can buy adult diapers in bulk online, which will lower the costs significantly. If you need to use diapers frequently, then buying in bulk may be worth it.

FYI: There are senior safety products and services to give you and your loved ones great peace of mind. With our senior safety guide, you can find the safety features that are best for seniors.

Other Adult Incontinence Products

There are other adult incontinence products you can keep on hand to use in addition to adult diapers. These products include:

  • Bed pads: Also known as an underpad, bed pads are used while you sleep to protect your mattress from urine.
  • Odor eliminators: Odor-eliminating sprays help combat any smells that come up as a result of incontinence. You can spray these whenever you need to freshen up, including on fabrics, skin, or surfaces — just use it as directed on the product label.
  • Booster pads: Meant to give extra leakage protection, booster pads fit inside diapers to provide extra absorption.
  • Washcloths: Disposable and convenient, washcloths make it easier to stay clean and comfortable. Most are hypoallergenic and gentle on your skin.

Other Adult Incontinence Products

There are other adult incontinence products you can keep on hand to use in addition to adult diapers. These products include:

  • Bed pads: Also known as an underpad, bed pads are used while you sleep to protect your mattress from urine.
  • Odor eliminators: Odor-eliminating sprays help combat any smells that come up as a result of incontinence. You can spray these whenever you need to freshen up, including on fabrics, skin, or surfaces — just use it as directed on the product label.
  • Booster pads: Meant to give extra leakage protection, booster pads fit inside diapers to provide extra absorption.
  • Washcloths: Disposable and convenient, washcloths make it easier to stay clean and comfortable. Most are hypoallergenic and gentle on your skin.
Written By

Jeff Hoyt

Editor in Chief

Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt

Citations
  1. Urology Care Foundation. (2022). Urinary Incontinence.