Seniors reusing incontinence products!

It seems that US Seniors aren’t exactly alone in not having their incontinence products (i.e. diapers) covered by the government or insurance. It’s the same situation in our northern neighbour, Canada.

Absorbent products go by a lot of names these day – adult diapers, briefs, pads, male guards and pull ups, just to name a few. Whatever the brand, there are some basic commonalities. Absorbent products are made up of hydrophilic materials like paper pulp which absorb urine and a hydrophobic external layer like nylon to hold the moisture inside and prevent leaks.

The price of most superabsorbent pads is between $0.44 and $0.86 per unit. Pads should be changed an average of 4-6 times a day, meaning that the annual expenditure for an incontinent man using pads could be as high as $4,402. Because absorbents aren’t covered by insurance, these costs are borne almost exclusively by the individual user.

So I understand the impulse to try and make your pad last a little longer and to save a little of that money. But sadly diapers are generally only designed to absorb around 16 ounces of fluid in a single episode and most do very poorly during a second urination.

But in Canada, Jack O’Neill is on a mission to change all that.

Orange Line

Jack O'NeillPORT COLBORNE – Jack O’Neil is disgusted that low-income seniors are forced to put their dignity aside to feed themselves.

The longtime seniors advocate says some seniors on fixed incomes in Port Colborne have to choose between buying groceries or incontinence products.

“Depending on the level of incontinence, people can spend more than $150 a month on these things,” he said.

“I know some people try to use them again or even wash them and it’s not healthy.”

O’Neil met with Welland MPP Cindy Forster Monday morning to deliver a petition with more than 1,300 signatures from residents of Port Colborne and doctors from across Ontario calling for government funding for incontinence products for low-income seniors.

“I think it’s an important issue,” Forster said. “Seniors don’t have enough money to live on. Many live below the poverty line as singles and even couples. This is another example of the need for supports for low-income seniors.”

She intends to bring the petition to Queen’s Park when the Ontario legislature resumes Sept. 9. Health Minister Deb Matthews will have 24 sessional days, or six weeks, to respond in writing.

Forster, a former nurse, said trying to reuse incontinence products or leaving the same pair on for expended periods can lead to rashes, bladder infections, skin breakdowns and serious skin infections.

Roseanne Western, administrator at Niagara Region’s Gilmore Lodge seniors home in Fort Erie, said in a phone interview that almost 90% of seniors living in regional senior care facilities have incontinence issues.

“It’s just something that happens as we age,” she said. “We experience a loss of muscle tone, so (people) lose a lot of control of bowel and bladder functions. Those muscles are not as strong or working as well (as they used to).”

She said the region’s homes receive funding for the products, but she empathizes with seniors who have to buy their own.

“It’s definitely an issue,” she said. “They are expensive and it’s quite a cost for them.”

At Shoppers Drug Mart on Niagara St. in Welland a package of 16 Depends Undergarments cost $23.99. The brands Max Protection undergarments are the same price, but come with 10 in a package.

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Original article published in Well and Tribune CA – http://www.wellandtribune.ca/2013/07/15/seniors-reusing-incontinence-products

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