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If you seem to notice you are having "accidents" more frequently, you'll be interested to know it is fairly common for older adults to experience some type of incontinence -- for instance from laughter, illness, or stress. While it is more common for women to have incontinence symptoms, it does affect millions of people in the United States, male and female.
Urinary incontinence—the accidental release or loss of bladder control—is not a disease, but rather a medical condition that your doctor can often help you with. For some people this condition is only temporary as a result of surgery or some medications. There are also many things that can lead to a long-term condition. For example, incontinence can happen if the bladder muscle is weakened after prostate surgery in men or vaginal surgery in women. Multiple pregnancies in women, large prostate in men, and stroke or depression could also cause incontinence in adults.
What incontinence supplies are available?
If you suffer from urinary incontinence, your health care provider can prescribe medication or offer surgical procedures that may lessen or correct the condition. But whether you have a chronic or temporary condition, there are numerous types of products that provide various levels of protection to help make incontinence a more acceptable part of life while allowing you to maintain your mobility and freedom.
Light pads: For some people, a light pad designed to hold urine can be very helpful. Adult incontinence pads are designed for both men and women and are much more absorbent than a sanitary pad but barely noticeable to you or anyone around you. They are easy to change and can give you an extra feeling of security, but they are for light cases only.
Protective underwear and adult diapers: When light pads are not feasible, other products are available that provide full coverage, such as protective underwear or disposable and adult cloth diapers, which are effective for daytime protection. Adult diapers have become much less bulky and more comfortable in recent years, and are perfect for anyone that needs moderate coverage. Some adult diapers are pull-up styles, while others require fastening on the sides. Swim diapers are also available for adults to help you maintain an active lifestyle.
Bed pads: For nighttime accidents or leaking problems you should consider disposable bed pads for protection and dryness all night. Discreet nighttime briefs for men and panties for women are also available.
Skin care: There are many types of skin care products available to help you feel more comfortable and confident while living with incontinence. Skin care for adult incontinence includes moisture barrier creams and pastes, odor eliminators, skin repair cream, and cleansing lotions and cloths.
Urological supplies: Urinary incontinence supplies include all medical supplies necessary for urine collection, such as catheters and external urinary collection devices. These types of supplies are mainly used by men with moderate to severe incontinence. The systems for men usually consist of a pouch or condom-like device often called a condom catheter. A drainage tube attached at the tip of the device remove urines and then empties into a storage bag, which can be emptied into the toilet.
Will Medicare pay for my incontinence supplies?
Original Medicare does not cover incontinence supplies such as adult diapers and liners. That's because these supplies are thrown away after use (not durable), and therefore do not qualify as Durable Medical Equipment (DME). However, if you are hospitalized or admitted to a skilled nursing facility, Medicare Part A will cover diapers for you.
Medicare Part B does cover other incontinence products like external urinary collection devices and disposable catheters for intermittent, self-catheterization when basic coverage criteria are met and the individual or caretaker can perform the procedure.
How much will incontinence supplies cost me?
Unfortunately, adult incontinence products such as adult diapers and bed liners are not inexpensive — you must also consider the fees for additional laundry and dry cleaning that may be necessary if accidents occur. Although prices for incontinence products can vary greatly depending on brand, quality, and place of purchase, one 2010 study found that women spent an average of about $750 a year on supplies.
Where can I buy incontinence supplies?
Although you can find some standard supplies such as adult diapers at your local supermarket, pharmacies and medical supply stores are likely to carry a more varied or extensive selection of products. To avoid embarrassment, you may also choose to order incontinence supplies online. In addition to many product options, online suppliers tend to have more competitive pricing and usually provide free shipping right to your door in discreet packaging.