Need advice re: adult diaper disposal

wooderlanderJune 5, 2007

Hi, folks,

I have posted here once or twice a while back, but mostly I'm at other forums. I do try and keep up with what's going on here. You all seem like such brave and good souls. Now I'm confused about and need help with a certain issue and hope someone can give me some advice.

My mother is in a very nice assisted living facility with daily trash emptying and weekly housekeeping and laundry. Her rooms are clean but smell so bad (poopy) that our family is becoming reluctant to visit her. I think she just uses plastic bags from the grocery store and puts them in a trash can. This would not be adequate for a baby's diapers so I think there must be a better way for her.

Can someone please give me some advice and ideas on the best way to dispose of adult diapers so that odor is controlled? We are all embarrassed to bring this up with her until we have an alternative ready. If I could present her with equipment or supplies that would work better, I think she'd be pleased.

Thank you for any ideas you might have.

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Does she have a diaper pail with a lid in the bathrooms? One of those step-on kind with a snug fitting lid would be best.
Also, could it be that she's not cleaning herself well? Or soiling her clothes when she removes the diaper? Once the odor gets in her clothes, it tends to stay and doesn't always wash out easily.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 10:14AM
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Connie Kru

I would agree with Agnespuffin-chances are that some of the odor is from her not cleaning herself well (the flushable wet ones may help with this) and especially if she is having very messy conditions to clean up, she is inadvertently getting it on the inside of her slacks and etc.
I remember having to have that talk with my MIL. Not easy, but what I did was say--I know how you have always prided yourself at being well groomed, and I know that you would want me to tell you if I smelled a nasty odor. Let me help you see where it is coming from.

You may be looking at the next step in caregiving--someone who comes and helps her shower daily.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 10:58AM
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The next time you go, take along a can of "Oust" and spray her room. The walls, curtain, bedspread will soak up odor and unless things get washed often the odor just builds up.

It's sometimes a little tricky for the elderly to clean themselves properly. The stiff elbows and shoulders just don't let them bend the hand well.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 11:12AM
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We take her out to lunch once or twice a week, and I have only once noticed a bad odor on her personally. It seems to be in her room. She keeps the door to her bathroom shut.

It sounds like we should get a regular diaper pail or maybe one of those Diaper Genies. I wonder if those would work for an adult.

Thanks for your ideas.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 1:01PM
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And have a word with the Assisted Living staff. They are there for just this sort of thing and will probably have ideas as well.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 1:26PM
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Everyone has given you good advice. I faced this very same problem with my mother a few months ago. As fairegold suggested, you should talk with the staff to find out how they can help with this problem.

Getting a lidded wastebasket in the bathroom is a necessity. Getting flushable wipes is also a good idea. Does she close the door when using the bathroom? Does her bathroom have a fan? Does she use it and keep it on for at least 10 minutes after a bowel movement? Does she have some bathroom deodorizing spray? I had to lecture my mom every time I visited her. She wouldn't keep her door closed after using the bathroom, wouldn't spray or use the fan. I finally had to make a reminder sign & post it right above the light switch.

This may sound horribly weird, but could she be hiding her soiled Depends or underwear in other parts of her apartment? The reason I ask is because that's what my mother did for quite a while. She was so embarrassed that she wouldn't put the dirty things in the trash. It took several weeks of talking to her over & over again before she finally started using the trash can.

Also, she could be hiding soiled clothing. You may not notice smelly clothing when you see her because she's already taken them off. My mom used to try to clean things up herself and she never did a thorough job. Sometimes I'd find soiled clothing in her "to wash" pile; sometimes I'd find it hidden away in cupboards or drawers.

Some seniors lose their sense of smell, so they really don't know that they're living in stink. That's why you may need to talk with her and give her a course of action to follow even if she can't smell the difference.

If she would put her soiled Depends in a plastic bag, tie it, and then put it in a lidded waste basket, the daily trash removal should take care of the worst of the odor. But I'd be on the look out for hidden surprises...

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 5:41PM
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I forgot to add that your mom's apartment may need regular airing out. Many seniors are cold all the time, so they don't open windows. I know my mom is like that, and her apartment is always stuffy (even if it doesn't stink). So every time I take her out for lunch or a doctor appointment, etc., I open her windows and turn on her bathroom fan. By the time we return, her place is aired out. That helps keep odors down. Sometimes the housekeeper opens her windows as well. Since you take your mom out for lunch frequently, you could use that time to also air out her apartment. And you might want to ask the housekeeping staff to open windows if they notice an off smell.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 6:07PM
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Thanks to everyone for your ideas.

It seems that part of the problem is that my mother doesn't like to ask the staff for help, with hygiene or much else. She refuses to press the little signal thingy that she wears around her neck because she says it's for emergencies only.

When we visited her yesterday, I spoke to the person in charge about several things mother needs help with, as I usually do when I'm there. He said she needs to use her buzzer when she needs help. She won't do it.

She's also very querulous and rude to most women (including me and my daughters), to the point that she'll say something awful about someone when she's right there, as if they can't hear her. One day we passed in the hallway the young woman who organizes the medications. The very second she was behind us, my mother said loudly and distinctly, "That's the medications girl and she is DUMB AS A POST."

So it seems to me that her problems will only grow worse.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 10:50PM
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Is this behavoir new, or has she always been querulous? Maybe it's time that you and your family start reacting to her differently. When she acts like a brat, tell her in no uncertain terms to behave herself. Yeah, I know, that's easier said than done. Good luck.
I would remind her that she's paying for the help and it's a waste of money not to push that button for it. My mother reacted well to being told that something was stupid. Tell her that it's STUPID not to make use of the staff.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 11:49AM
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My mother has always had a cruel streak but usually kept it hidden except in private with certain people. Now she doesn't bother to hide it except at certain times. I guess my point is that she does have at least some control over her behavior.

When she yelled at me on Sunday, I did tell her to stop it or I would leave. My brother immediately told me not to get into it with her. He is very protective (I would say enabling) of her.

She didn't go out to lunch on Sunday because she wasn't feeling well, and was speaking in the weak, breathless voice she uses at those times. But when she became angry at me (for telling her that someone from the facility is supposed to put her doctor-prescribed compression stockings on her), her voice became STRONG and POWERFUL. She has always been manipulative, and now she doesn't hesitate to show her lack of respect for other women.

Thanks, agnespuffin. She might be receptive to the idea that she's wasting her money. Meanwhile, I'll try to do what I can for her, or what I can stand to do anyway.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 4:35PM
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I spoke too soon. I was at my mom's assisted living apartment yesterday and found a hidden, wrapped up Depends on her closet shelf. Luckily, it only had urine in it and wasn't too old. I put it in her bathroom trash receptacle and told her, again, that she needed to put all her dirty Depends in the bathroom's lidded trash can. She muttered a few things about throwing them out in the big garbage cans that the housekeeping staff uses when they empty the residents' daily trash. So I told her she should use her trash can and let the staff empty it daily rather than saving up soiled diapers to dispose of when she sees the big garbage can in the hall.

Agnes, I must be be on the same wave length as you. I didn't say her behavior was stupid, but I did "remind" her a couple of times that she didn't want people to think she was one of those filthy old women with dirty clothes & dirty diapers & dirty napkins (she saves her used & soiled napkins from the dining room) all over her apartment. I think I'll follow your advice and keep repeating that speech. It may eventually sink in.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 8:27PM
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Sounds like a good idea. Remind her that the maid is being PAID to empty her can so she won't have to. How would she handle being told that NICE women wouldn't put the diapers anywhere except in the can? There's a good chance that she feels a little shame at having to wear them and is hoping that she can get rid of them before anyone sees.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 9:15PM
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Agnes, I know you're right about the shame. I'm sure that's why she hides the Depends and tries to sneak the soiled ones into the housekeeping garbage can when no one is looking. I like your suggestion about NICE women. She doesn't want to be considered a crazy old woman who can't take care of herself properly. Thanks for the helpful hint. Maybe she'll finally stop fighting me about those dirty napkins too!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 9:48PM
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Connie Kru

Oh this topic brings back memories-My MIL would wear a kotex type pad for her urine incontinence. But then she would wash them so she could re-use them and stick them to the bed frame so I did not see them (of course I could smell them) and I got to where I played the game too- I just replaced the one on the bed frame with a fresh one and she was none the wiser.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2007 at 6:36AM
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My Mom is now living with us and has early AD. All the comments are true - hiding, trouble cleaning up herself and clothes, pride and shame and then just bad decision making because of the cognitive decline of AD.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2007 at 10:22AM
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My Mom also has AD, one of her "things" is looking for things in the wastebaskets or trash cans! UGH! I hate having to tell her to get out of that trash can and go wash her hands! If she were in her right mind she would be horrified to know that she does this!!!She is actually quite focused on the wastebasket! Has 3 different bags in the one in the kitchen and empties the one that actually holds the trash/garbage many many times during the day! But by hand and picks through everything and then returns the dirty bag to the wastebasket, instead of tying up the bag and tossing it and puttin in a clean bag!

    Bookmark   July 1, 2007 at 5:28PM
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My dad has a strong odor in his room.He likes to leave a small amount of urine and hang it on the towel rack. He never puts on The AC so at 85 degrees WHEW!
When he doesnt change the depend urine will squish out onto his pants and then his chair.Thank goodness for leather.
FINALLY, I spent 400 bucks on an ozone machine with an ultra violet light for killing bacteria and odors. He was mad that I spent it but I said. " Dad, I don't want anything to stop me from visiting you and if it takes 400 bucks to make me want to see you more Ill gladly pay it."

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 9:40PM
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Just like you'd do with stinky baby diapers. Wrap them in plastic bags and get them out of the living space as quickly as possible.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 9:04AM
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I too am looking for adult diaper disposal alternatives. I get my urine soiled pull up disposable underwear out about every other day. In the mean time I place them in plastic grocery bags in the bathroom trash. Still a family member has said that my home still smells. The baby diaper "pails" or "genies" will not accomodate the adult sizes. Any one have any suggestions for alternatives, other than a lidded bathroom trash can, which I am considering? Any suggestion would be helpful and thanks!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2008 at 7:40PM
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I think the lidded trash cans are the only way to go, and I think the metal step-on kinds are the best. I have purchased them for my mother to use. The ones I got were metal, step-on cans with plastic liners with handles. I lined the plastic part with tall kitchen plastic bags. (There are a couple brands on the market now that come scented; that extra bit of odor fighting helps.) In addition, I always wrapped the soiled disposable pull-ups in plastic grocery store bags. Every once in a while, I would wash, sanitize, & deodorize the plastic trashcan liner; I'd do all that in the tub.

I emptied the bathroom trashcans almost every day. I had a special mid-sized metal old fashioned garbage can in my garage just for the soiled Depends. The metal can does not absorb odors the way plastic does. I also used one of those scented tall kitchen plastic trash can liners. And often times, I'd drop in a handful of moth balls to help fight the odor. I kept one or two boxes of moth balls in the garage specifically for the purpose of deodorizing that "special" trash can. But, to be honest, I never smelled any odor until I opened the can to drop in some soiled goods. Once closed again, the metal cans did a great job of containing all odors.

I'd tie up the garage trashcan bag that was filled with soiled Depends and put it in our large curbside garbage can for the weekly pick up. Our city supplied garbage can is plastic, and if I left the soiled pull-ups in it for a week, the plastic would absorb the odor. So the metal trashcan in the garage was like a depository until the weekly curbside garbage service.

Believe it or not, my three part system worked. And my mom had frequent bowel accidents too.

One other thing I've discovered recently is those reed diffusers (see the link below). You can get them everywhere now, including WalMart & KMart.They are wonderful as daily air fresheners. No spraying needed, no plugging into wall outlets, no replacement needed for a long, long time. I got some on a whim and then realized how easy they were to use. There's always a nice fragrance, not overpowering at all. I now have some in each room of our house -- larger ones for the bigger rooms. A couple of these strategically placed might go a long way in getting rid of lingering unpleasant odors. Of course, I still keep the bathroom stocked with air freshener sprays. But the diffusers are at work all the time and leave a nice lingering pleasant fragrance.

Hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: Reed Diffusers

    Bookmark   December 31, 2008 at 8:19PM
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Shambo - thanks for the input! I absolulely hate the smell of moth balls but that idea could be expanded on. I do have the diffuser sticks in the bathroom and Tropical Mist Plug Ins at several locations. The everyday out to the trash just isn't an option for me - sometimes it's all I can do to get over the threshold in my wheelchair. The metal vs plastic for the odor retentions was VERY good advice! My bathroom trash is actually wicker but it may also be holding on to odors. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   December 31, 2008 at 8:49PM
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Not to belabor the subject, but do you have a laundry or utility room that's easily accessible and has a door that could be closed? Perhaps you could set up a transitional metal garbage can just inside its doorway so you wouldn't have to try to cross the threshold. As long as you had the soiled goods wrapped in grocery plastic bags, you'd only have to make the trip to the bigger "official" trash can once a week or so. And with the door closed, you could contain the odors more easily.

I still think a lidded metal trashcan in the bathroom is a good idea. However, you may not be able to find anything other than a step-on. But that's not really a problem. You can always open it easily by hand.

I've purchased a couple of those metal step-on trashcans from WalMart and other places. You can usually find them in a brushed stainless steel finish and sometimes in white too. I think your wicker trash basket may look lovely but not be functional for your purposes.

And I'd really encourage you to buy the scented tall kitchen bags to line your trashcans (in addition to individually wrapping the soiled Depends). They're a little more expensive than regular plastic bags, so I didn't use them for our kitchen, just the "special" trashcans.

I know what you mean about mothballs. My husband detests the smell. I only used them every once in a while in the transitional metal garbage can I kept in the garage. No way could I have used them in the house. However, I honestly think I could have gotten by with just the scented kitchen bags.

Here's a site with pictures of the kind of transitional metal can I used in our garage:

Here is a link that might be useful: Metal Trash Cans

    Bookmark   January 1, 2009 at 12:05AM
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I treat my husband's used diapers just like I did my babies diapers. Roll them up liner side out, place in plastic grocery bags and get them out of the house IMMEDIATELY. Wash hands constantly, both the patient and caregiver.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 9:36AM
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Give Cheap Chux a call -toll free; FREE shipping & BEST incontinence products I found after yrs of trying others.

My DH's skin is very fragile & he acidity of urine wicked away + antibacterials. I shudder to think of HIM or our home having even a slight urine or fecal odor.

Ready to place an order myself today, I ck'd their site for you...Heaven knows we Caregivers need all the help we can get!! I've no idea how long the things below will 'hold' oder, but it costs nothing to find out. Ask about FRESH SACK Disposal Bags for Protective Undergarments. Toll Free #is 1-888-772-7702 to speak to very helpful folks.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 1:01PM
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I don't know about the assisted living accommodations where you are, but I can't help but wonder why they are not noticing the odors and why they aren't more alert to them. After all, it is ASSISTED living as opposed to Independent living. I would be surprised if it is not their job to take care of this and they should be checking your Mom over also. If you can smell it, so can they. Have you ever noticed anything with the other residents? Maybe you should go to the 'powers that be' to find out just what you are paying for.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 3:05PM
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