Environmentally Friendliness with Incontinence Supplies
Incontinence supply is a growing business. Estimates from 2008 show that there are over 516.9 elderly worldwide (over the age of 65). There are over 40 million elderly in the United States alone - about 12.8% of the population. The incontinence product market has grown to a hefty $3 billion dollars as aging individuals cope with the issue of incontinence. Including healthcare, diagnostic testing, and medication, the costs are upwards in the $30 billion dollar range.
Incontinence will be a growing environmental concern, and those throwing away diapers every day know this well. Here's why: current statistics show that roughly 53% of the elderly have some form and frequency of Urinary Incontinence. It is the second leading reason why the Elderly are placed into homes and hospitals for assisted care. And, incontiennce does not just affect the elderly; 15 million adult women experience some form of urinary incontinence.
That considered, here are some staggering statistics: At 2008 estimates, 53% of the 40 million U.S. elderly population is 21,200,000 people. If each of these incontinent individuals requires just 1 adult diaper per week, that amounts to roughly 1.14 billion diapers in our landfills. One adult diaper per day? 7.73 bllion diapers. And with some individuals needing 30-40 pads or diapers a day, these numbers become jaw-dropping astronomical.
The Human Factor
Human waste is organic; the Earth digests it quickly and efficiently along with all other organic material. When continent individuals void, it creates minimal waste (except maybe a toilet flush, in which the water is treated and recycled.) But incontinence management requires the use of synthetic supplies like diapers, pads, etc. to respond to nature's calling while maintaining ease and comfort. But most "environmental" solutions will lessen the dignity and comfort of the individual.
The simple fact is that incontinence individuals need better, more innovative solutions to manage and treat urinary incontinence. Inaction on this is not an option, nor is neglect.
So until better solutions are available, what can a single person do to make an impact and lessen the waste and maintain the maximum dignity and comfort?
The key to "environmental friendliness" with incontinence supplies is to minimize waste. With that goal in mind, there are several options available to the environmentally conscious individual.
Tips to Waste Less while Maintaining Comfort:
Get Properly Diagnosed and Explore All Treatment Option
There are many types of incontinence, and no form of incontinence is "normal" by any means. Understanding your incontinence and treatment options is the first step to improving your urinary function. Doctors can often recommend exercises and lifestyle/diet changes that will help you. In some cases, these changes may relieve your incontinence altogether and completely negate the need for incontinence supplies. Incontinence could also be a symptom of another underlying problem that would require medication or surgery.
Optimize the Right Amount of Protection
Incontinence episodes come in many levels of risk and frequencies. Many women may only experience a light form of urge incontinence that only affects them occasionally when they sneeze, laugh, walk; in these cases, a simple incontinence pad may be sufficient. In contrast, someone with nerve damage may have frequent, uncontrollable incontinence every day. Optimizing the perfect level of protection along with comfort and expense is the ultimate goal; and thankfully, while there are not "environmentally friendly" options, there are many options available so you can find the ones that have the least impact.
Consider Stronger Options for Frequent Incontinence
For those who have frequent incontinence, consider a "heavy duty" option designed to retain higher amounts of fluid. Many of the best performing products will wick away moisture and leave you and the inner surface of the pad dry enough to continuing wearing through multiple episodes. This ultimately means less waste at the end of the day, and often less expenses, too.
Try Re-Usable Products
For those who experience light to moderate levels of incontinence, or maintain some level of control but wear a pad for "emergencies", consider reusable underwear and panties designed to hold a small amount of urine and keep you comfortable. Typically, re-usables benefit the female anatomy the most, and need to be changed more frequently to avoid skin rashes and breakdown. To prevent leaking, a waterproof nylon or vinyl panty worn over the diaper can help. Re-usables tend to cost more up front than simply buying a pack of disposables, but for someone who has experienced incontinence over a long period of time, there is often cost-savings in the long term.
There are some innovations in Urology that will hopefully solve the issues of incontinence. While full functioning bladder control or fully "green" solutions that match the ease and comfort of existing products may not always be possible, minimizing the waste of managing incontinence through better treatment and intelligent management will ultimately make the planet a better place for ourselves and the future generations.