Friday, October 31, 2014

Monday, September 21, 2009 JGandJ, Community Member, asks

Q: Mother won't wear Depends

My mother is 81 and has been urinating more frequently and at times defecating in her pants. She has refused to wear Depends but at times wears the Posi(?) pads. Her accidents are becoming more frequent and embarassing. How can we get her to wear depends. She knows when she has to go, but waits to long to get up to do so. She also where's constrictive underwear (vanity reasons?) , so when she gets to the bathroom, it is difficult for her to pull down her pants and she has a mistake. Any suggestions? Thank you

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Answers (2)
AFA Social Services, Health Guide
9/21/09 3:58pm

It is important to understand some of the dynamics around this problem.  First and foremost, your mother should be seen by a doctor to rule out any possible medical causes. Incontinence can be caused by conditions that can be treated, such as urinary tract infections, medications, or dietary issues.  If your mother has dementia or any other cognitive impairment, she may not remember the process of visiting the bathroom nor may she remember how to communicate this need.  Determining the cause is the first step, which is the reason a visit to a healthcare professional is essential.   
You mentioned she refuses to wear Depends, which is a common dignity issues for many individuals.  If you want your mother to accept wearing an undergarment you need to make sure to approach the subject with respect and kindness.  For most people, using the bathroom is a part of the daily routine that does not require much thought; however, there is much mind/body coordination that does take place.  Your mother may feel that she has to go but may get confused about finding and using the restroom, disrobing, and attending to her body.  I suggest utilizing undergarment products that function more like underwear, such as a pull up style.  You can visit web sites that offer incontinency products, as there are more innovative products on the market to protect her sense of self and enable her to retain her dignity.  You can begin by viewing the products on the the e-store of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America at   

NC, Community Member
9/21/09 5:59pm

AFA is right, you can try some flexible underwear/diapers and see if she can accept it. I don't know how forgetful she is, but I know my father-in-law somehow was persuaded that the underwear/adult diaper with the pull-in is "underwear". The caregivers don't say diaper in his face. They either subtly put it on in the morning for a change (he changes it once a day treating it as underwear because he is not incontinent yet but he has accidents as he walks slower) or just says this is underwear. Somehow he is used to think it is underwear now. He has no idea this is diaper and even if we say protection of diaper, he totally ignores it!! He has stage 6 moderate/severe Alzheimer's. But he does not like to use it as it gets wet so he still goes to the bathroom.

I don't know what kind of tricks you can play, but you may try to get a special kind of "adult diaper" and tell her this is underwear and ask her to try it.


Good luck,


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By JGandJ, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/04/10, First Published: 09/21/09