As a CDS caregiver, you may be overwhelmed by the process of changing an adult diaper. This vital task protects the adult from dangerous infections and overall discomfort.

When diapers are not changed frequently enough, tissue breakdown can occur from the prolonged exposure to bodily waste. This is a common cause of painful bed sores – which are very hard to treat once present.

Early diapering experiences between adults can feel awkward, but they don’t have to be intimidating. By learning about the process of diapering adults, caregivers can make the process smoother for all.

What will you need to change an adult diaper?

In preparation for a successful diaper change, there are a few items a caregiver should gather. These materials will help the process run smoothly and keep both caregivers and patients sanitary. Before beginning the changing process, you will need to get:


·       Disposable gloves – Like medical rubber gloves. Make sure they are the proper size, and always compare the glove materials against any patient allergies.

·       A plastic bag – Such as a small trash bag or a plastic grocery sack.

·       Wet wipes – These might be baby wipes or similar.

·       A clean adult diaper – With the proper fit and absorbency level for your patient’s needs.

·       It is also helpful to keep barrier cream to treat any sores or diaper rashes and prevent further irritation.


All of this can be found at most any drug store or supermarket. These items can also be purchased in bulk from medical suppliers online.


Positioning yourself to change an adult diaper


For the best experience, you will want to diaper on a flat, raised surface at a comfortable height. Often this is a bed, as many patients requiring diapering are bed-ridden.

To prepare the patient, lie them flat on their back. If the bed is adjustable, put it in the flat position, then pull it to your hips. If the bed does not move, position yourself near the bed. If you are diapering long term, consider getting an adjustable bed to minimize the strain of increased positioning of the patient on them and yourself.

Changing Adult Diapers

It is best to begin by thoroughly washing your hands with soap and warm water – this will prevent the transfer of any bacteria from you to the patient or vice versa. You should also put on a pair of disposable medical gloves to create a sanitary barrier.

Once your hands are protected, you should open the diaper using the fastener tabs on each hip. When both sides are open, take the side farthest from you and tuck it under the patient. You should then gently roll them, using your hands at their hip and shoulder, onto their side. This will let you pull the diaper out from underneath them.


When successfully removed – fold or roll up the used diaper, sealing any waste in the middle. Place the soiled diaper into your plastic trash bag.


Next, pull out your wet wipes and be sure to clean the patient well. Clean both front and back, avoiding applying any excessive pressure or roughness. Double-check for any missed areas, and reposition the patient if you have to reach those areas.


Once you are sure the adult you care for is thoroughly clean, place the used wipes into the plastic bag containing the diaper. While the patient is drying, check for bed sores. If they are present, treat them appropriately before diapering again.


Now, apply barrier cream as needed to protect sensitive skin from friction and rubbing. Grab a clean adult diaper. Open it and again place the side farthest from you under the patient’s hip, then flatten it underneath them. Adjust the sheets if necessary to keep them out of the way.


Once the diaper is correctly positioned under the patient, carefully roll the patient toward you and onto the diaper, using one hand again on the shoulder and one on the hip. Pull out any crinkles in the diaper, then fasten it snuggly using the tabs on the hips. Check for proper fit.


Now that the diaper is on securely, you can dispose of your rubber gloves in the plastic bag. You will want to knot the bag and dispose of it, then immediately wash your hands with warm soapy water. Once your hands are clean and dry, readjust the bed, check for cleanliness of the bed, and ensure patient comfort.


How often should an adult diaper be changed?


Whether or not a patient expresses discomfort, you must check the diaper regularly. Failure to do so can result in rashes and bedsores, both uncomfortable for a patient. Plus, you wouldn’t like to sit in a dirty diaper… so make your patients do so!


Whenever a diaper is soiled, change it right away. In general, a patient in a nursing home requires six to eight diaper changes each day – use this as a guideline for your checks until you become more familiar with each patient and can adjust accordingly.


Tips for diapering an adult


Do you need a bit more advice for diapering adults? These tips might make it a little bit easier.


First and foremost, have a good attitude about it. You will only increase discomfort for yourself and the patient by being rude or acting unwillingly to help. Bed-ridden patients often battle mental illness, and your visits may be the thing that brightens or darkens their day – so be kind.


If you are struggling with proper diapering or frequently encounter messes between changes, it is time to check the diaper’s size. Diapers come in many sizes, which vary between brands. They can be too big, too small, or too loose – none of which are comfortable or ideal for containing waste. This is why it’s imperative to measure for the proper diaper size.


Speaking of fit, you should be sure you are fastening diapers properly for a good fit at the waist. Top fastener tabs should face up, and bottom fastener tabs should face down. This provides the most secure fit.


Don’t be afraid to ask for help! It is easier to diaper correctly if another person is present to help you monitor patient safety and comfort.


The best diapers for adults


The market for adult diapers is vast – offering a plethora of choices in size, fit, style, absorbency, and much more. So how do you know which diaper is correct for you and your patient? Here are some of the best brands and styles.

McKesson Ultra Briefs with Tabs, Heavy

McKesson is a large healthcare brand that has been serving customers and healthcare professionals for many years. They’ve designed their ultra-brief to fully protect heavily incontinent adults and alert caregivers to soiling via color guards.


The design of McKesson Ultra Briefs stops moisture from pooling, and premium fabrics neutralize urine pHs. These features help prevent rash and infection. There are also re-adjustable tabs on each side so that you can get the perfect fit.


Prevail Ultimate Bariatric Briefs


Prevail offers a range of adult diapers, but the bariatric brief is different in that it was designed for larger patients. Wide reusable tabs allow adjustment whenever needed for comfort or fit. They have been designed with a cloth-like material to ensure comfort by reducing heat and absorbing moisture.


If you have a larger patient, the Prevail Ultimate Bariatric Brief is a great choice. It offers heavy absorbency while containing zero allergens. This diaper also features Omni-odor guard technology.


Tranquility ATN (All Through the Night) Disposable Brief


This highly reviewed brief is built for secure, overnight protection. It features a “Tranquility peach mat inner core” to give maximum absorbency and leakage control protection. It claims to grant healthier skin, odor reduction, and increased comfort by immediately wicking moisture and trapping it away from the skin.


Since this is designed for long wear, the fit must be secure. That’s why this style has adjustable tabs at the waist and leg, as well as inner and outer cuffs. Tranquility is a popular brand that offers many styles of adult diapers across many size groups.


MoliCare Premium SuperPlus Brief


This style offers a unique “Air Active” wing designed to reduce body heat, improve dryness, and minimize skin irritation. The whole brief is made of soft, breathable, and hypo-allergic material that offers comfort and rustle-free discretion to let patients feel more comfortable knowing that others won’t hear their diaper as they move.


MoliCare Premium SuperPlus Briefs are designed with generous leg openings that allow downsizing. They also feature a graduated wetness indicator – helping you see when it’s time for a change.


Navigating care for incompetent and bed-ridden adults can be challenging, but diapering doesn’t have to be confusing. Use this guide to find suitable materials for you and learn to provide proper care while ensuring sanitation and overall patient comfort.