Updated 20 July 2016

Incontinence products can help millions of South African caregivers

The 1st of October is International Day for Older Persons - many of whom struggle with bladder weakness without realising that there are incontinence products available to suit their needs.


It is well known that bladder weakness – also known as urinary incontinence – has a severe impact on the quality of life of those experiencing the condition. But few people stop to consider its impact on an intrinsically connected group of people: those who care for relatives with bladder weakness, often in their own homes. With an estimated 7,7 percent (or 3,9 million)* of the population over the age of 60 years, caring for elderly parents or other relatives is a daily reality for millions of South Africans.

Johannesburg-based Theresa (not her real name) is one of those people. She recently had to arrange for her elderly mother to come and live with her, as her mother has age-related physical and mental limitations that prevent her from adequately caring for herself. Part of that responsibility means that Theresa has to help her mother to manage her urinary incontinence.

“It’s very difficult,” says Theresa. “There hasn’t been a lot of support or information available, so I had to learn how to manage it all by diving in at the deep end. But who do you ask?”

That last question is a common one, echoed by carers everywhere. Often they are unsure as to which products are suitable, and whom to ask for advice. “And unless you can see an example – something you can feel, and touch and examine – it’s very frustrating,” says Theresa. It’s been an expensive case of trial and error, she adds: buying a package of incontinence products and opening them only to find they’re unsuitable.

“When my mum is well, and during the day while I’m at work, she can manage to use the pull-ups, which are just like ordinary panties,” says Theresa. “But when she’s not well, I worry. I’ve had to hire a professional carer on occasion, just to give her the help she needs.”

In some senses, Theresa is lucky – her mother is still mobile enough so that she doesn’t need to be lifted to have her protection changed, except perhaps at night. Many carers have to physically lift their relatives in order to change and wash them, which can result in serious back problems.

With this in mind, TENA, the world’s leading product manufacturer for bladder weakness, has introduced TENA Flex, a breakthrough product that aims to alleviate some of the physical difficulties experienced by caregivers. This unique new belted brief minimises the need for lifting and reduces back strain for carers, while simultaneously making changing less intrusive for the wearer.

TENA Flex features a number of innovations, including:

- Feeldry™, which gives outstanding dryness through its quick inlet absorption and excellent retention.

- The Superfit™ waist belt for easier handling for all body shapes.

- A Breathable Backsheet™ that allows air to circulate, reducing skin problems.

- Elastic Fit™ waist elastics for a snug, body-close fit.

- A wetness indicator to show when the product needs to be changed.

- Easy-select colour coding to make it quick and easy to find the product on the shelf.

- Curved leg elastics that ensure a comfortable, snug fit.

- A leakage barrier for maximum peace of mind.

- A noise-free product for wearer discretion.

“Our aim is to provide products that impact on both the quality of life and the inevitable costs that arise – for both wearer and carer. Using the right protection will make managing the condition far more cost effective,” says Jana Joeaas, TENA’s Commercial Director at Nampak Tissue. “Our hope is that TENA Flex will have a positive impact in all the ways that matter.”

* Source – Statistics South Africa’s Mid-Year Population Estimates.  July 2011.

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


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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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