As many as 25 million Americans suffer from bladder control problems and at least one-third of the resident population in an assisted living facility are likely to have urinary incontinence (UI). Of those with UI, some are cared for by others, whether a professional caregiver or a family caregiver. Since being a caregiver can present its own unique challenges, this section provides information about products that caregivers might find helpful in the care of a loved one with bladder or bowel control problems. For more information and support on caring for someone with UI, visit our Caregiving Section.

Those caregivers caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease may have specific concerns regarding continence care and Alzheimer's. Read our Caregiving Plan for the Person with Alzheimer's Disease.

Selection of Clothing and Supportive Devices for Continence

  • Tight, restrictive clothing, such as girdles and pantyhose, may make continence more difficult.
  • Disposable underwear and comfortable elastic waist pants are suggested.
  • In the home, day room, or private bedroom, access to the toilet should not be blocked or made unsafe, such as by slippery throw rugs.
  • Safety devices, such as handrails and elevated toilet seats, should be installed to avoid falls. A stepstool might be needed for normal position for toileting.
  • A urinal for men at night may help prevent bedwetting. Some urinals from rehab centers have a one-way valve to prevent spillage.
  • A consultation with an occupational therapist may help make the ability to self-toilet more possible by designing a device specifically for that patient.
  • To learn more about the treatments for incontinence, visit the section of our website on the types of incontinence.

Helpful Household Products

Absorbent Products

Underpads are absorbent cloth bedcovers or linen protectors with leak resistant backing for use on beds or furniture or in wheelchairs. Less breathable fabrics are likely to increase trapped body heat. These are also available as disposable products and come in various sizes and absorbencies.

Disposable bags for absorbent products are designed for discreet disposal and odor control of disposable absorbent products. Scented bags or pouches are available with tie-close handles or resealable tape tabs.

A drawsheet is a plastic or cloth material that covers a portion of the bed. It can be waterproof or can encase a waterproof underpad. A drawsheet protects bed linen and mattress and assists in lifting and turning an immobile patient. Breathable fabrics are recommended over non-breathable ones.

A mattress protector is a plastic or cloth material that covers the entire bed mattress. A mattress protector can be waterproof.

A splash guard is a device that attaches to the toilet seat to prevent urine from getting on the toilet seat or on the surrounding floor.

Toileting Accessories and Aids

Falls and resulting fractures that occur in reaching the toilet are a leading cause of hospitalization and even early nursing home admissions in the elderly. NAFC strongly advises the use of products that can assist in safe toileting habits so that behavioral practices such as timed voiding and bladder retraining are practical and realistic options.

Urinals/Bed pans are useful for those who have restricted mobility including post-stroke limitations. Urinals of various designs exist and are sold primarily through home health stores and mail order catalogs. Most are designed for men, although designs exist and work for women. Also available are liners designed to prevent spills when using a urinal or bed pan. The most comfortable bed ban design may be a fracture bed pan with low profile side and end handles. These are generally available from mail order houses.

Bedside Commodes are designed for bedside use. Some models have arm rails to assist in balance.

Elevated toilet seats are designed for use with regular commodes. Some models have arm rails to assist in balance.

Bath/ Toilet Transfer Systems assist in toileting especially for people who do not have full mobility.

Other Resources for Caregivers

National Family Caregivers Association

US Department of Health and Human Service—Information for caregivers

Sometimes, caregivers may need support to help them help others. Talk to other caregivers in our online forum to get learn from others’ experiences, get helpful tips, and find support.