There is no getting around the fact that coping with incontinence will increase your living expenses. But it’s important to understand from the outset that every case of incontinence is different, and therefore, no set formula exists to determine how big an impact your particular needs will have on your finances.
For starters, much depends on the nature and severity of your incontinence. Is it urinary or fecal, or both? Is your urinary incontinence moderate, full, or perhaps just a matter of occasional leakage? The answers will determine the degree of protection you require. In the best of circumstances you might be able to get by using relatively inexpensive pads and guards. In a majority of cases, however, the need exists for higher performance products providing fuller protection.
Equally important in terms of budgeting is your choice of product type: reusable or disposable. Disposable plastic products cost less per item, and if your incontinence is light and occasional, you might do better cost-wise going that route. But for most incontinence sufferers, washable fabric products are far less costly in the long run.
Salk was the pioneer of reusable incontinence undergarments, producing the first long-lasting washable cloth pads, briefs and panties more than 50 years ago. Since that time, the company’s product lines have introduced major advances in durability, comfort, and moisture and odor control. The ability to use those products repeatedly for months on end, as one would use regular underwear, offers a major cost advantage over, for example, using two or more disposables during the day and perhaps several more overnight. (An added cost benefit is Salk’s policy of free shipping on orders of $75 or more.) A person with full urinary incontinence who uses disposables can go through six or more adult diapers a day in order to protect the skin from excessive irritation. That can impose a heavy monetary burden.
Another factor worthy of consideration is the level of physical movement your job or lifestyle requires. Most people find that products made of fabric offer better ease of movement without compromising moisture control.
Incidentally, for many people with incontinence, the choice of reusable versus disposable involves more than pure economic consideration. Unlike plastic, cloth is absorbent and feels natural against the skin; it does not make noise with movement; and when it eventually reaches a landfill, it is biodegradable. Those factors contribute “value” to washable incontinence products in the minds of many who are incontinent.
Keep in mind that in many cases it may be possible to reduce your reliance on incontinence products, and thus lessen the impact on your expenses, with lifestyle and dietary changes. Arrange your activities so that you can use a bathroom often at a regular schedule. Avoid foods that are known to stimulate the bladder, such as caffeinated and carbonated beverages, alcohol and artificial sweeteners. Also, it may be useful to reduce liquid intake in the evening, but do not reduce your overall daily water consumption. Inadequate hydration can cause additional problems. Consult your doctor for the best ways to rely less on incontinence protection.
To recap, budgeting for incontinence products requires a straightforward assessment of how much protection you need, the degree of comfort you require, and whether you prefer disposable or reusable products. Finding permanent answers to those questions may require some experimentation to find the products that work best for you without overly straining your wallet or purse.