Incontinence and furniture

My elderly mother has dementia and urinary incontinence, as well as COPD. The last makes it difficult to sleep laying down, so she prefers to sleep in a recliner. I was wondering if there are purpose-made pads or covers for recliners to protect against her urinating on it. My own googling did not produce much. Right now, she has a twin bed cover/pad on it, with a chair cover/pad over top of that, and a thick bath towel over all of it. She soaks everything, and about half the time, some gets through to the chair. She wears heavy-duty nighttime diapers we get mail-order, so there’s nothing more to do there.

Her current recliner is in need of replacing, and I’d like to come up with a better cover to use before we bring in the new one. Something that works better, but isn’t uncomfortable or ridiculous like the thick plastic furniture covers they used in the 60’s. I’ve even contemplated using one of those fabric shower curtain under her.

The world isn’t terribly well-designed for people who can’t control their bodily functions.

Drugstores sell a product that I think is called an incontinence pad. It is a disposable, absorbent pad with a plastic waterproof backing. They are usually around 2’x2’.

I appreciate you taking time to respond. We’ve used them in the past, but she’s well past the ability for such a lightweight product to handle the job. For clarification, when I posted. . .

. . .the twin bed cover/pad, and the chair cover/pad listed were reusable absorbent pads with a waterproof backing. They’re larger and hold more liquid than the disposable ones, though of course they need laundering.

I’m hoping to come up with a more thorough, heavy-duty cover to prevent leak-through, or more accurately, leak-around. Perhaps a pad sized for a double-bed might do, and she could sit in the ‘trough’ formed by it by laying it over the back, seat, and arms. Something that size would be a bit of a pill to launder, but anything that would do the job would have to be, I suppose.


Having once had my own health issues that placed me in a similar situation for a short period, the hospital used what were loosely called “pink pads”. There are highly absorbent cotton pads that are washable. They are big enough to cover the seat cushion of her chair. Here’s a link to some options. It looks like they may even offer something for a recliner (as you scroll down the page). On the left side of this webpage, as you scroll down, you will see you can select the size(s) desired.

If this isn’t quite right, two thoughts: If you know someone in nursing, they might know a more “official” name for these. Or, ask around at a pharmacy that deals in durable medical supplies. Either one may have some options to suggest. Good luck!

They are called bed shields and are used in nursing homes and hospitals. But it sounded like he was already using them, from the description in the OP. I was going to recommend the same. We used them for 6 yrs caring for my MIL, with great success. But she was bedbound, not in a chair.

Yes, they do make them. Some hospital postpartum departments send them home with new mothers.

I had them around the house from ex-mil that worked in a hospital. They work great for dogs with bladder issues.

I just had some plain hospital grade ones like this that I used over and over for years.

ETA, come to think of it, if she’s seeing a urologist, she might be able to get some (or some ‘samples’) from them. If the internet is failing you, a medical supply store will have them.

Sorry, last post. I just checked and the one I having hanging around is “Standard Textile 95-1463-ST”.
I found something similar on Amazon, this is probably what you want.
I have no idea how this price compares to shopping them out on medical supply sites, medical supply stores, walgreens etc, but that, I believe, is what you’re looking for. It looks to be about 3x3’ which is probably about right for a chair. Any smaller and could shift out from under her if she moves.

A note on the chair front - you didn’t say if you were thinking of buying a “brand new” or a “new to you” chair - my recommendation would be to replace her chair with one from one of your local swap and buy groups if you can find a nice one (and you probably can). In my opinion, it takes the stakes down to get urine on a second-hand chair (and the price would probably be a quarter of a new one).

Some big fabric stores sell a double-layer flannel fabric that is sandwiched with vinyl or rubber. They are designed to be used in cribs or beds, you can buy it by the yard. It doesn’t fray, and is easily washable. Call around, you’re bound to find it.

Have you also considered getting a chair that is covered with heavy grade vinyl instead of cloth? Naugahyde or what ever it is called.

Yeah, we’re using them, but she just puts out a tremendous volume of urine some nights. I swear, like a gallon on occasion. If she was a little more “with it”, I might change her halfway thorough the night, but she has dementia, and she’s not terribly cooperative, particularly out of a sound sleep.

Yeah, we’re using something very similar, it’s just too small, and the urine gets around the sides and gets on the chair. After awhile, even droplets stain and stiffen the fabric, and make it smell. I need something that is sort of chair-shaped, that goes over the arms to prevent that. I guess what I need is a huge plastic sheet of some kind to sit underneath the regular absorbent pads.

That sounds like a winner. just throw it over top of the chair, and put a pad on it. Now I just have to find a fabric store.

I live in kind of a smallish ‘city’, more like a bit town. Not much happening on the Craigslist front for anything, it seems. Also, I need the recliner to be powered - push a button to recline or sit up, and a motor drives it. Those are far more rare than a regular recliner, which will take a long time to scare up around here. I’ve been trying to scare up a good quality used computer desk chair for more than 6 months. Nothing even close.

Also, I’m wary of used, big stuffed stuff, since bedbugs are making a comeback.

I think we should, but my vote isn’t the only one. My sister is dead set against it for some reason I’m not entirely clear on. Something about it making Mom’s back sweat? How does that matter when she’s pissing herself? Maybe I’ll go pick that scab again, because I don’t really like that answer.

I missed the earlier post about her, more or less, soaking right through the regular incontinence chair/bed pads.
My suggestions would be:
A)Use the full sized bed ones, but fold them up so they’re they fit on a chair. That would make them several layers thick and buy you some time. IOW, if she’s soaking through them in 2 hours, maybe this will get you through the workday.
B)Plastics. Sweat isn’t going to be an issue if there’s a sheet of plastic buried in the mix somewhere. Sure, sitting on a sheet of plastic or vinyl will make you sweaty, but getting (for example) three of those pads and putting a sheet of plastic between the bottom and second to bottom one isn’t going to make anyone sweat. All it’s going to do is make any urine that makes it that far down, hit the plastic, slide over to a dry spot and reabsorb.
You don’t even have to mention it to anyone, just go ahead and do it. Also, I’m not talking about something like saran wrap, you need a heavy duty plastic. Go to a produce store and ask for the plastic that on the bottom of pallets. It’s very heavy/thick. Even better, go a a greenhouse and see if they have any scraps of hoophouse cover, they might just give you some.

But, no matter what you do, incontinence pads, a stack of towels, multiple pads, plastic liner, some combination of the above, there’s no getting around the fact that eventually, if it’s this bad, someone is going to have to check on her and change the chair covering on a regular basis.

I know it smells, I know it’s gross, but I think part of what you’re going to have to do is find peace with the fact that this is just a way of life (unless you can get her on a med or you can get her to use a disposable, wearable product (ie adult diapers, poise etc) and consider the chair a loss and plan to buy a new one at some point in the future.

Also, one other thing, about mom’s back sweating? Don’t run the plastic up the back of the chair or if you have to, put a towel over it and that should solve that. Also, if your sister doesn’t live with her, I’d tell her she’s more than welcome to take mom, otherwise "I love mom, don’t get me wrong, and I’m love having her here, but as long as she’s living with me, ruining my furniture and making my house smell, I’m going to do whatever it takes to deal with it, if you’re concerned about her back sweating, you’re more than welcome to have her move in with you’.

It’s pretty easy for people to tell you what you’re doing wrong when they don’t have to deal with the consequences.
Also, and don’t forget this, as parental end of life approaches (and passes), sibling rivalry tends to get worse than you can imagine. Don’t be surprised when you’ve had mom living with your for her last year of her life and sis is no help at all and suddenly she calls you up to tell you everything you did wrong and why she should get all the money. I’ve seen it many times, it’s part of the circle of life. IOW, put plastic on the chair, if sis doesn’t like it, let her figure it out or give you the cash for a new chair.

Have you considered an indwelling catheter?
You do have to keep an eye out for UTIs and keep the bag emptied.

Does she walk around on her own? The bag and tube need to be secured and there might be a chance she would try to pull it out.

For heavy-duty waterproofing, I usually use a thick, clear, vinyl shower curtain, or thick plastic sheeting (visqueen) from the hardware store. Both are very inexpensive and flexible. Use it as the base layer, then cover with your softer absorbent products. Protect the floor, too.

First layer ought to be incontinence panties, if she’s not wearing them now. You didn’t mention them (or I missed it), so I wanted to call it out.

If you can’t find the material, let us know. I’m sure we can find you a source online.

Another option to consider - what about an adjustable/motorized bed that will allow her to sleep sitting? That way you would get the benefits of a bed (mess containment, and comfort for her) and you could position it for her as needed.

Primary caregiver gets all the votes on something like whether there’s plastic on the back of the chair. More important issues like medical care warrant a family conversation.

It’s getting hard to respond individually, so I’ll just lump it all together. Thanks to EVERYONE.

She wears diapers.

She wears incontinence panties.

Heavy-duty, night-time mail-order ones. Yeah, I said so. One of the things about communicating on the internet is that, without fail, everybody misses something. Just happens. Can’t be helped.

Not stated earlier: she is ambulatory, but has COPD and osteoporosis. Doesn’t go further than the bathroom and back, and I try to accompany her whenever I can, to make sure she doesn’t fall.

Mom doesn’t live in the land of Oz, but she visits there often enough that I would worry about a catheter. She’s already on a prophylactic antibiotic, as she’s had frequent bladder infections, and there’s a link between UTI’s and worsening of dementia. Think the last one was at least partially responsible for a fall.

Hospital beds are very expensive AFAIK, and the nurse that Mom’s doctor had come over to evaluate her and our home to see what she needed was about as useful as a proverbial useless thing. No friggin’ help. Not in that she wouldn’t do the things we wanted her to, but in that she didn’t really do much at all, and didn’t seem to understand what she was evaluating. If she said so, Mom could have had a hospital bed paid for by insurance, but I don’t know if she even seriously considered it.

I had a roommate during my stint in rehab a couple years back(surgical reasons, not pharmacological. Shouldn’t matter for our purposes, but someone here would have a bad opinion of me if I didn’t specify, I’m sure.) who had a hospital bed who just wanted it gone. I should have got it, but he was so sleazy and dirty and misogynist and racist, I wanted as far away from him as possible as soon as I could walk away. Knew I’d want it someday. Dammit. Probably covered in racist’s poop anyway.

The vinyl vs fabric chair discussion - I’m not going to pick that scab after all. Something goes wrong, Mom slides out of a slick. slippery chair or what have you, and I’m the one who insisted. I’ll try the flannel-backed rubber sheet idea, or failing that, the shower curtain/heavy-duty plastic sheet base-layer idea. I doubt I’ll be able to care for Mom for more than another year. I’m just hoping for another Christmas at this point. Might only be a day if she doesn’t listen to me and goes outside alone again (I have electronic chimes on the doors now). The chair will last until she goes to a home at least(best-case scenario), and I’ll have bigger problems than worrying about peed-upon recliners.

The urine isn’t going through the pads. . .well, the twin-bed pad is wearing out, but that’s not the real issue. The problem is what happens when you pour a quart of liquid on something designed to handle a pint. Overflow.

Thanks to Sunny Daze for the offer to source the flannel-backed rubber sheets. I’ll get back to you if my own efforts are unsuccessful.

Thanks to everyone for the help. I don’t usually get this much of a response when I ask for help on message boards, so I really appreciate it.

If this is ‘all at once’, IOW, if she’s essentially just going to the bathroom right there in the chair and not even knowing it. In addition to any other precautionary methods you may want to take, I think your best bet will be multiple layers of pads and checking on them somewhat often.

I misunderstood and thought it was a few drops here and a few drops here that was just adding up to so much over the course of the day, combined with her not being lucid enough (or too embarrassed) to say anything that it was soaking through whatever you were using. If she’s just, for lack of a better term, letting loose, that’s different.
Finally, don’t reinvent the wheel, talk to her doctor (especially a uro if she has one). Like most other medical problems, it’s not unique and her doctor may very well have tried and true solution.

Where I live hospital beds are rentable, maybe check for that?

Were it my mother, I would have her checked because that’s a lot of urine output everynight to soak through a diaper, a panty, a bed shield or two, plus some towels! That seems well outside normal to me. Something to consider anyway!

Good Luck!