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Talking with a Loved One About Incontinence

Marketing Intern | Shield HealthCare
06/10/15  6:04 PM PST

The Elephant in the Room

Incontinence is a condition that can lead to some awkward situations for the 13 million people in the United States that manage it. It can be even more awkward for their family members to communicate to them that there is an issue in the first place. Many feel that their incontinence is embarrassing and oftentimes those affected by it are unwilling to face the reality of their incontinence on their own. Those who struggle with accepting the condition may be unaware that the negative aspects of incontinence such as unwanted leaks and smells can be managed with the right products.

It is important to address your loved one’s incontinence in a loving and supportive manner; talking about the issue in the correct way is always better than ignoring it and hoping for the best.

Understanding Your Role

  • As a caregiver, your goal should not be to seek whatever treatment you think is required, but rather to seek the guidance of a physician alongside your caree. This shows your loved one that you are not out to advance your own agenda, but rather to support them in their lifestyle transition. Instead of saying “I think it’s time to get diapers, mom,” say “I know that you’re uncomfortable about the issue, but if we see a doctor he can help us find a solution.”
  • Avoid antagonizing language that implies it is their fault for their incontinence. Having empathy for their situation is crucial; imagine you were in their shoes before approaching them about the issue.
  • Helping educate your loved one in a friendly way about the various products for incontinence can enhance both their understanding of the issue as well as their appreciation for your help in the matter. Bringing samples of certain products is a great way to show your loved one how simple and easy it can be to deal with incontinence. You could say something like “Just wear the diapers dad,” but “These briefs may not be comfortable at first, but you’ll get used to them very soon,” is much more empathetic.

You Are Not Alone

It can be easy to feel as if you are on an island with no help or resources when caregiving for an incontinence sufferer. One way to connect to people who can give you helpful information is through our Incontinence Community. Here you will find informative articles and discussions relating to incontinence that you can use to better understand the issue and how to care for your loved one during this transition in their life.

Recent Incontinence


  1. I am finding the incontinence briefs purchased at drugstores or big stores do not contain the urine or other discharge for my father who is incontinent and has a colostomy. Are the briefs sold on this site better than what can be purchased elsewhere? If my father lies on his side, the briefs leak. Also the briefs leg elastic does not fully contain discharge. We even used men’s guards inside the disposable brief. He still has leaks!

    1. Hi Ruth,

      Thank you so much for your comment and question. The issue you are experiencing with your father may be due to incorrect sizing: the number one reason for unexpected leaks is a too snug or loose fit. For more information on this, see this article. Another cause may be incorrect usage of guards in the briefs – many men’s guards have a plastic backing, and when used in conjunction with a diaper, can cause leaks rather than prevent them. We recommend making sure that any inserts used inside briefs are not plastic-backed.

      Here at Shield HealthCare, we take pride in the quality of our products. If you would like samples of the briefs that we carry, to check both quality and sizing, please give us a call. We should be able to help you: 800.765.8775.

      Thank you. -Chad, Shield HealthCare

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