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The Dreaded Diaper Talk

There is no perfect way to take care of an elderly parent except with the most love and patience you are able to muster on that particular day.So how do you put a little fun into a world obsessed with bowel movements, pain management, hallucinations, and insomnia? Add to that the parent-child dynamic and we are talking crazy fun! Actually thinking fast and always looking for the answer that allows your parent to maintain their dignity is the way to go. And humor opened those doors for me.

How about “the talk” with your parents? Bringing up the subject of adult diapers. Or as I refer to them—Disposable Underwear. I NEVER used the word diaper. My mom had some leakage problems and she didn’t know it. Every time she sat on the couch I held my breath. You can only flip the cushions the one time, right? Anyway, my mom had terrible balance and used a walker. She was terrified of falling and dreaded getting up to use the toilet. She decided that she wouldn’t drink so much water and then she wouldn’t have to get up and pee so much. You know where I’m going—then she became dehydrated and developed bladder infections and it got uglier from there.

I learned that folks who wore disposable underwear had fewer falls because they weren’t in such a hurry to get to the toilet. Mom liked that idea. I framed the Depends as a way to minimize her worry about falling – I never brought up the issue of wetting the furniture. She felt better—I felt A LOT better and from that day forward she wore disposable underwear and we never had to discuss it again.

I addressed the problem in a dignified way designed to solve the she was worried about. Whenever I was successful in solving caregiving challenges it was when I approached things from her point of view and not mine.

But isn’t that true for everyone and everything?

About Breeda Miller

Breeda Miller works with organizations to support professional and family caregivers. Her self-care strategies help caregivers care better for others, reduce stress and burnout. A professional speaker, award winning author and family caregiver, Breeda cared for her own mother for 8 years including hospice care. Connect via email: [email protected] or Breedamiller.com

8 Comments

  1. Karen Shellie on July 16, 2014 at 11:55 am

    What a creative and caring approach to a challenging situation.

    • Breeda Miller on July 20, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      Thanks Karen – I appreciate your support.

  2. Rhonda Caudell on August 14, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Loved your article especially your term: “Disposable Underwear” and making your approach from her point of view. I am sure many family caregivers can learn from these ideas. Thanks!

    • Breeda Miller on August 18, 2014 at 7:28 pm

      Thank you Rhonda. I believe we should never use the word diaper with anyone over the age of 3 – words have power and meaning. Thanks again.

  3. toby on August 23, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Thank you for this thoughtful perspective. Sometimes we just don’t have the knowledge of how to re-frame the language or the conversation, for that matter. I appreciate your terminology & ideas. An approach with new words keeps your aging loved ones dignity in tack.
    Some one said that “getting older is not for the faint of heart”! I am beginning to understand.
    Glad that we are on this path together!
    Best,
    Toby

    • Breeda Miller on August 25, 2014 at 12:13 am

      Thank you Toby – We can’t forget how much power there are in words – even when we are exhausted and at the end of our rope, choosing our words with care can make all the difference in the world. Take good care – of yourself!

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