‘I’m wearing a nappy, but I’m no baby’
Adult diapers threaten to overtake baby diapers in sales as people live longer.
Sales of adult diapers in Japan are about to overtake sales of infant nappies for the first time in history, according to The Atlantic. Since Japan has an increasing population of over-65s- at 20 per cent of the total population, the highest proportion of any country in the world- adult diapers are becoming increasingly necessary.

It’s big business for manufacturers which are making a reported R15 billion per year, but it also presents other problems for the manufacturers and potential customers.

For example, a Swedish adult diaper manufacturer caused an uproar by sending samples to every Swedish man over the age of 55, signalling that there’s quite a stigma attached to having to wear incontinence aids.

The nappy stigma

Manufacturers are struggling to find a way to make their products acceptable to an increasing market, although, according to the report, they are confident the stigma attached to wearing diapers will become less as more people wear them.

Parents often sigh with relief when the time comes that their children are potty trained, only to live in fear of having to care for their own elderly parents, possibly having to change soiled adult diapers.

Children aren’t usually embarrassed about wearing diapers, and their parents are business-like when it comes to changing them, but for an elderly person having to wear incontinence aids may signal the end of a social life as they feel too embarrassed to go out in public.

In addition, adults who wear diapers are more likely to use them for a much longer period than infants. The reality is that in SA the average lifespan of the population is increasing, and this will result in more adults having to wear incontinence aids.

Caring for the elderly

As a society, there should be more acceptance of this fact of life, especially of elderly or chronically ill people who will still want to be functioning members of society in spite of having to wear incontinence aids.

As parents, we are aware of the high costs of infant nappies, and adult incontinence aids are often much more expensive. This puts pressure on the elderly who may not be able to afford them. Perhaps we could do more to contribute to the costs involved in aging, especially when it comes to family members.

If we as parents can manage to change our children’s diapers, then we should be able to do the same for our elderly parents and allow them to retain their dignity. Incontinence in no way implies that an adult is child-like.

Would you be able to change your parent’s adult diapers? Would you feel ashamed if your adult child had to change yours?

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