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A Practical Guide to Adult Diapers

They Are What They Are

The Yes, that is what they are called. There is no way around it. If you can't bear the thought of needing or wearing them then find some other euphemism that you can live with. "Protection" might be a good one. Most of the medical professionals that I come across refer to them as "briefs" which is inaccurate but commonly used.

Purchasing the correct size, absorbency, and style can save you no end of embarrassment, lower your laundry bill and reduce cash out of pocket. Medicare doesn't cover adult diapers. My secondary insurance doesn't either. Yours might. Check.



I'm not going to talk about all the forms of incontinence that are out there. You know if you need an adult diaper. The first consideration is absorbency. How much do you go over a given period of time? Some folks wear them for "just in case" situations like club meetings or having dinner out. Others require them constantly for light but constant leaking. There are also the heavy duty continuous users.

If you purchase the wrong type of absorbency then you'll be wasting your money because you will be changing too often or not utilizing the full capacity of the diaper before changing. Often many women try to get by using a sanitary napkin. If it works for you then, by all means, go in that direction.

Read My Book on Adult Diapers


Next, you want to think about how often you want to change the diaper. Most folks don't want to be up every two hours at night dealing with this problem. That goes for caregivers as well. However, a diaper left on too long will soil the bed and cause skin breakdowns that can lead to bed sores.

Whichever diaper is chosen must be appropriate for the volume of urine to be expelled over a given period of time and still be pulling moisture away from the skin when it is changed. Leaks are inevitable and accidents happen. The idea is to minimize these problems.

Absorbency will have a profound effect on the thickness of the diaper. They expand as they absorb. It's important to understand how much larger the diaper is going to get when fully wet. This will affect your comfort and appearance.


There are a variety of styles and accessories available. Briefs can mean an open diaper with Velcro tabs on either side. This works for fine-tuning the fit and for checking the overall wetness of the diaper. There are "pull-up" type diapers that work like underwear. These are generally for light users.

Many commercial brands sell one type of diaper for men with the padding in one area and a different type for women. Others will make no distinction in design. Some come with wings, like sanitary napkins. Most diapers have a plastic backing that will make your backside very warm. There are more expensive types that have a "fabric like" backing that allows more air inside the diaper to cool things off a bit.



Each brand of diaper uses a different method for sizing. You need to know your stomach/hip measurement and the distance from your waist in front to your waist in back. Even so, it may take a few tries to get the right type for you.

If you are a light user, then many of the brand-name diapers available from Wal-Mart to home healthcare specialty stores will probably do the trick for you. Order over the Internet if you are shy about buying them in public.


You can also purchase booster pads that may or may not have a plastic backing. Booster pads fit inside a diaper to increase the absorbency. Be aware that they will also increase the thickness of the diaper when wet. Finally, you can buy a plastic covering for the diaper that fits like underwear. Once again, this will trap heat as well as moisture.


Finally, you need to be aware of "press out." That is the amount of liquid that the diaper will expel with weight pressing on it. In other words, how much is going to leak out as liquid when you sit on it and the diaper is at full capacity. Some diapers will give you this information and some won't. Unfortunately, experience is the best teacher.

3 Sizes

Small, Medium, Large

Small, Medium, Large


On a personal note, if you are a heavy or continuous user of adult diapers, I would recommend a diaper/brief made in Europe called Abri-form. They are not cheap and I have never seen them in any store. They are one of the most absorbent and longest lasting of any I've tried. I found them two places on the Internet; and Another brief that I like very much is ConfiDry 24/7 Maximum Absorbency Briefs. They hold more than any adult diaper I have come across to date. They are also available at (I have no connection with either of these websites.)

Unfortunately, changes in my medical condition have forced me to become an expert in this area over the last few months. Although my need is intermittent, finding these diapers have given me a peace of mind and confidence I thought was gone. When I began searching for an adult diaper to meet my needs, I found good advice from an article at Slate by Justin Peters called "What is the Best Adult Diaper?" and I suggest it to you.

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Georzetta Ratcliffe (author) from Pennsylvania on February 11, 2014:

Every area will be a bit different Start with the Agency on Aging.

nebulizer on April 24, 2013:

I am very happy to read your articles it’s very useful for me,

and I am completely satisfied with your website.

All comments and articles are very useful and very good.

Your blog is very attention-grabbing. I am loving all of the in

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tony on April 17, 2013:

how can i get my mom adult pull-ups for free her ins. don't pay for them my mom is 72 years old.

Unique Wellness from BROOKLYN, NY, USA on October 23, 2012:

Nice one. Thanks for great articles.

laketip on December 27, 2011:


Nice article. I agree that Abena is the best performing diaper on the market. I also use Tranquility's Overnight Underwear during daytime, which I also like a lot. Some others have posted where they get their Abena products and I have found a site that offers Abena products at great prices. Just another option, hope this helps.

Red_Barchetta on September 10, 2011:

Well, after about 43 years (Problems since birth) I think I have SOME knowledge on this subject as well...This is good general information, but it can get much deeper, especially if you are running things through an insurance company. I really don't know much about the practices of private insurance Co., but no straight Medicare dose not pay for adult diapers, but I am pretty sure some of the HMOs and supplements will (not 100% positive on that one though), I know definitely Medicaid and the Medicaid HMOs will (that's how I get them). The thing is this creates other problems, because they will only pay up to a certain amount per diaper - Not sure what that amount is, but it dose basically exclude all the really good highly absorbent ones. Make no mistake however, even so, you can still get a diaper through them, that is comfortable, and will do what it needs to do, you just have to change it more often (regardless of if it has been used or not, piticuraly in the summer!). I personally use "First Quality", and they do work out fine, and in the summer (if unused) seem to be good for about 2.5 to 3 hours, longer durring cool weather months. For over-night, I just use a large re-usable under pad under the diaper.) .

Quote from dfbartender

"does pampers not make an adult diaper because if you can make baby diapers you could mqke adult diapers with high absorbouncey so they could go places without worrying about leakage if you have not you need to market your product for adult diapers where adults can have their dignity in the last years pof their life we owe them that much"

Pampers dose not make an adult diaper, although the main company (Procter and Gamble) use to they were not doing enough business with them to entice them to keep making them so they sold the rights to the adult version of Pampers - and you can still get them (just from a different company) I haven't seen any in a while so not sure if they changed anything yet, but basically what you are asking for is Attends, they are based on the 70s/80s version of Pampers. Although I still think myself that if Pampers themselves made one they could make something off it - if for no other reason, everyone knows Pampers makes a good baby diaper, and it would stand to reason if they did make a adult size diaper - it would be the same thing, just bigger and minus the nursery prints.

sdradius on June 09, 2011:

Thanks for your great article. You can also find a listing of different adult diaper sizes at the

Jill on May 11, 2011:

Thank you for the information on your favorite kinds of adult diapers.

dfbartender on April 12, 2011:

does pampers not make an adult diaper because if you can make baby diapers you could mqke adult diapers with high absorbouncey so they could go places without worrying about leakage if you have not you need to market your product for adult diapers where adults can have their dignity in the last years pof their life we owe them that much

catfishjr241 from usa on November 19, 2010:

kck medical is the best place to get the abri-form xplus that i have found here is the linki also think they have a comparason of all the adult briefs (diapers) hope this helps i use kck for my needs

oscillationatend from a recovering narcissist. on October 11, 2010:


I find this a great, sound article on a touchy subject. Great links and Amazon products, too. Good job!

I myself prefer either attends or wings choice. I hear great things about the abriform, but have yet to try.

I personally need protection 24/7, so like to purchase diapers on a cost/effective ratio. But, if I see some samples going on I'll take a look.

Great article on a touchy subject--well done all and all!


Georzetta Ratcliffe (author) from Pennsylvania on May 08, 2010:

I just quickly checked out the link for Adult Diapers and Briefs. I saw no information about absorbency rates or push-out.

They seem to have a variety of sizes but again, no indication of how many diapers would be required in a 24-hour period.

It looks like it would be a case of trial and error. I think any seller of these products could do better.

I would love to hear from them if they update their website to provide more comprehensive information.

Stanley_19802 on October 19, 2009:


I am 28 years old. I have been bed wetting since I was 13 and started having day time accidents when I was about 20 or 21 and started wearing diapers 24 hours a day when the day time accidents started. I have tested MANY diapers over the years. In that time I have found 3 brands which are the best disposables. Those would be:




My insurance "medi-cal" supplies my diapers, but they only pay for the cheap no name brands such as white stone. They are extreamly thin and are lucky if they hold one wetting without using a booster pad. When I have money, I buy the Uniquebriefs. They are rated for 10-12 hours of wear and unlike most cheap disposable diaper the fluff doesn't break down and clump up until you get around the 10th hour of wear or unless you are really active at the time. I have had some of the Uniquebriefs last 14 hours before the fluff begins to break down. They are also rated to hold up to 2 liters of urine, and that's without a booster pad. And because medi-cal won't pay for the booster pads most times, I went to walmart and got a few packs of the toddler cloth diapers and use a few (3-4) together as a booster pad for overnight use. It's extreamly rare that the diaper leaks on me with the system. Another trick for boosting absorbancy is to get a pack of baby diapers such as pampers or huggies. Take the diaper and using a razor blade make several 1/2 inch long slits all over the plastic backing of the baby diaper and it will give your adult diaper a decent boost in absorbancy. Hope this was helpful. Take care.


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