Updated 21 July 2016

7 tips to help you look after a disabled loved one with incontinence

Caring for someone who is disabled can be tough, even more so if they also suffer from incontinence. Here are seven tips to make your life easier.


Caring for someone who is disabled can be hard enough, but if they suffer from urinary incontinence, it just adds another level of strain for the carers involved.

However, many people who are disabled may be mobile enough to either use the toilet independently, or with assistance, and TENA has some tips to make carers’ lives a little easier.

1. Watch the temperature changes

It’s starting to warm up as we head into summer, and when it’s hot, moisture against the skin is particularly uncomfortable and can quickly cause chafing and rashes. Make sure you are using breathable products – don’t be misled by products calling themselves “textile-like” as they are not always breathable.

TENA’s light incontinence range, TENA Pants and TENA Flex are 100% breathable. TENA products are designed to wick moisture away from the skin to ensure wearers are dry and comfortable. It is also important to follow good skin hygiene. Wash with mild soap and water – don’t use antibacterial soaps as they will dry out the skin and can cause itchiness and skin sensitivity.

2. Be sensitive to appearance

Urinary incontinence doesn’t have to mean an adult diaper. TENA Pants are unisex and are designed to look – and function – like normal underwear, but they aren’t bulky. And yet they’re suitable for medium to heavy incontinence, and won’t show under normal clothing. Thicker doesn’t always mean more absorbent. 

3. Make changes more convenient

Some adult incontinence products are easier to take on and off than others, depending on the style, thickness, and size. Pull-up briefs are easier for some people, undergarments that fasten with adhesive tabs are easier for others. For women, wearing a skirt rather than pants makes changing much easier.

Men may prefer pleated or looser pants to jeans, at least in some situations. For active adults, TENA Level 4 Protective Underwear for men and TENA Lady Pants for women provide a comfortable, “stay-in-place” fit. 

TENA Level 4 Protective Underwear and TENA Lady Pants are designed to hug the body in the same way underwear does and can simply be pulled on. They’re specifically designed for the differences in male and female anatomy and are a snug, comfortable wear that is breathable and designed for minimum leakage risk.

4. Transport supplies in style

You don’t necessarily want to advertise what you’re carrying, so avoid anything that looks like a nappy bag. A computer bag or a backpack is less obvious, and it’s wise to keep it stocked not only with incontinence products, but also with a supply of large zip locking bags for if you need to stow soiled or stained clothing, or when there’s nowhere appropriate to discard used incontinence products.

5. Be prepared

Keep emergency packs of incontinence supplies in your car, and at the homes of family and friends you often visit.

Your emergency pack needs to contain the following:

- Wipes

- Pantyliners and in-underwear pads (easier to stash in handbags, car cubbyholes, etc.)

- Tight underwear 

- Change of clean clothes

- TENA Bed for the protection of furniture and bedding

- Plastic bags for soiled clothing or items in need of disposal

6. Protect furniture and bedding

According to experienced caregivers, the moisture barrier in adult incontinence products tends to be more effective when your loved one is standing or sitting, but less useful when your loved one is lying down. Style is also an issue – briefs and undergarments with loose leg openings are prone to leakage when someone’s lying down or seated in certain positions – tipped back in a recliner, for example.

This is why thicker overnight products are a good idea for most people. Absorbent underpads, like TENA Bed for bedding may help.

7. Be aware of odour issues

A moisture-wicking barrier not only helps with comfort, it tends to decrease odour as well. TENA’s products have a built-in odour neutraliser. Also remember that changing as fast as possible and cleansing with a wipe or with soap and water are the best odour-fighting strategies.

For advice on choosing the right product, please call us on 0860 673 377. Visit TENA for more information or to order a free sample. You can also buy TENA products online.

Read more:

The caregiver's guide to managing incontinence

Specialised products can help millions of South African caregivers

12 tips to ensure bladder weakness doesn't ruin your holiday plans


Ask the Expert

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Incontinence Expert

Prenevin Govender completed his MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2001. He obtained his Fellowship of the College of Urologists in 2009 and graduated with distinction for a Masters in Medicine from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His special interests include laparoscopic, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery. He consults full-time at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.

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