What to Know When Changing Adult Diapers

What are adult diapers? Who deals with them?

Adult diapers are one of the more common kinds of incontinence products used by the elderly and others who suffer from leakage and involuntary bowel movements. Diapers are a great way to absorb leakage, keeping mattresses, seats, and clothes dry and clean, especially if the person in need of them is bedridden.

Usually they're used by active adults dealing with incontinence, whereby they wear them and change them themselves, or by caregivers that deal with those who are bedridden that need help changing their diapers. These diapers are typically widely accessible and affordable options for incontinence problems in the market.

In this post we'll guide you through how to change adult diapers, what supplies are recommended when you change an adult diaper, and a number of options that suit different needs.

What are the different kinds of adult diapers?

There is a plethora of different adult diapers that usually vary in style, size, absorption levels and color. In summary, there are two distinct types of adult diapers: those with tabs at the sides of the waist, and those that come in a pull-up style.

The methods of putting them on and changing them will differ depending on the style of the diaper, although one must choose the perfect size in any to avoid leakage due to it being too large, or discomfort if it's too tight. Absorption levels should also be considered depending on the severity of the uncontrollable bowel movements. Generally an adult diaper with pads is used with those who are bed-ridden, whereas a pull-style one is utilized when the patient is able to stand and lean on a bar or a wall.

What supplies do you need when changing an adult diaper?

Whether you were changing them yourself or taking care of others, you must be prepared with certain items before taking on replacing an adult diaper. The list below, however, is catered to caregivers since their job requires a lot more groundwork in order to provide the appropriate support for someone who is bedridden.

Preparing your tools ahead of changing a diaper is vital, so that you don't hurry or scramble for things that you need while keeping your patients waiting and exposed. This will make you more trustworthy and professional, and show that you are handling them with the utmost care. Below is a list of the materials you need to ensure a smooth diaper-changing process, in the order that you need to use them.

1. An Underpad Or a Towel

It's crucial that you place a handy underpad or towel underneath the patient before you start changing them. This will collect any residue or leakage that may drip down once you remove the adult diaper. Underpads are usually disposable (although some are reusable), while towels can be washed and reused for less cost. However, most people prefer the disposable ones even though they're more expensive, as rewashing the soiled towel could be an uncomfortable and not an assuredly sanitary process

2. Disposable Gloves

As you will be dealing with a soiled diaper in the removal process, using disposable gloves is necessary for your protection as well as the person you're caring for. You want to avoid cross contamination, especially when dealing with bowel movements in a vulnerable area of the body. Keep in mind to keep another pair near you, as you will need to change your original ones into new ones during the process.

3. A Trash Can

This might seem quite obvious but it could save you time and instantly get rid of the soiled diaper from the diaper-changing process. A nearby trashcan will ensure a quick and smooth change.

4. Wet and Dry Wipes

As soon as that dirty diaper comes off, we want to make sure to clean the area thoroughly before putting on the new diaper. If you're dealing with urinary incontinence, it could suffice that you wipe the area with a dry wipe to soak up the wetness, however for both urinary and fecal incontinence you should go in with wet wipes (ones appropriate for sensitive skin areas, such as baby wipes). Of course, you should be wiping front to back to prevent the unwanted traveling of bacteria and lower the risk of infection.

5. Barrier Creams

While this is not a completely necessary step, applying barrier creams with each change could work to get ahead of diaper rash, as well as irritation caused by the skin's constant contact with acidic urine and fecal matter. Of course, this step becomes absolutely essential if the person already has a rash, and should be done after the area is thoroughly wiped clean and dried.

6. A New Clean Properly Fitting Diaper

Finally, another obvious one, once you're done using all the above products, you can reach for your new clean diaper and put it on the person your caring for.

How do you change the adult diapers?

Ok so now you have all your tools ready, let's dive into a step by step guide to changing adult diapers with tabs as well as the pull-up style diapers.

Adult Diapers with Tabs

Step 1: Wash your hands thoroughly, use a hand sanitizer and wear your disposable gloves.

Step 2: As mentioned above, make sure all the necessary tools are close by before you start with this process.

Step 3: If bedridden, place an underpad on the surface you will be working on, and make sure the patient is lying on their back, preferably on a comfortable surface, like a bed or a changing table. Make sure that the patient's hips are placed on top of the underpad whereby his backend is in the middle of the underpad.

Step 4: Fully remove all clothing before starting.

Step 5: Undo the tabs on the diaper and assist the patient in lying on their side. Once they're on their side clean their back side with wet wipes, throwing them in the trash as you go, then dry the area up with dry wipes. Then fold the diaper on that side in on itself and turn them back to their backs. Do this again on the other side.

Step 6: Once they're back to lying on their back, gently place one forearm under their knees, and gently push the knees up towards their chest, to be able to pull the diaper from underneath. Dispose of the diaper in the trash. Then, wipe their backside thoroughly again, going from front to back, and dry the skin using dry wipes. Make sure they are completely spotless. If holding their knees up with one arm is too difficult, ask someone to assist you in this process.

Step 7: After the wiping process, and making sure they are completely dry by using dry wipes as well as air-drying, change your gloves to a new pair and dispose of the old ones.

Step 8: Repeat the method of placing them on their sides and lifting their knees for the application of barrier creams to keep their skin moisturized and prevent rashes and skin irritation.

Step 9: Lift their knees again, this time with your new and clean adult diaper prepared with unfastened tabs, place it underneath them and tuck it on the hip. Then drop their knees down and pull the diaper upwards and fasten the straps snugly, but also tightly enough to prevent leakage.

Step 10: Pull their clothes back on and dispose of your gloves properly.

Adult Pull-Up Diapers

Step 1: Similar to the tabs, keep your tools near you, wash your hands thoroughly and put on your gloves.

Step 2: Pull-ups are mostly used for patients who are capable of standing, so have them lean onto a grab bar, or on the wall.

Step 3: Rip off the sides of the diaper and pull it down to their knees, then tuck it inward on itself to pack in the mess. Slide it down their legs and pull up one foot at a time to take it down.

Step 4: Once out of the way, the patient should pull one knee upwards at a time so you can wipe front to back thoroughly with a wet wipe. Then thoroughly dry the skin with a dry wipe.

Step 5: Change your gloves to new ones and apply a barrier cream, making sure to get it in all the folds and creases in areas where rashes are prominent.

Step 6: Get the new diaper and slide it on, one foot at a time, the way you would put on briefs or underwear.

Step 7: Dispose your gloves.

There you have it! Follow these steps to successfully dispose of your diapers. Studies have shown that adult diapers must be changed every 2-3 hours, which amounts to about 5-8 times a day, depending on the severity of the incontinence.

Be Respectful and Considerate

Perhaps the most important rule to being a caregiver that has to change diapers (or a caregiver in general) is to remain respectful, patient, and considerate of the person going through this. It is often a greatly uncomfortable and embarrassing process that those who suffer from incontinence have to go through, having to be exposed and vulnerable in front of their caregiver.

Consider privacy concerns of the patient, make sure to get this change done in a place they feel safe, and do it privately with no people around if they prefer. Ask them what diaper styles they favor, and if they feel the diaper fits right, and keep them feeling relaxed throughout the process.

If you feel you cannot handle this on your own, ask them for their permission to bring someone in to assist you, and calmly explain why this is necessary to do. always make sure to keep their best interest at heart, and openly communicate with them to address any concerns (if possible).

How WellBefore can help

WellBefore offers many of the items needed for a successful diaper change. Incontinence pads and adult diapers are available in a variety of sizes, quantities and absorption levels, as well as a wide selection of disposable medical gloves. For any questions, feel free to reach out to our team who would be happy to help.