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By Trish Hughes Kreis, Staff Writer
I had never heard of Diaper Banks
until my daughter started high school (which was longer
ago than I care to remember!). Each year, the
school held a competition between the grade levels to
see who could build the biggest “diaper wall.” For
four years, we purchased diapers by the case to
contribute to this fundraising effort benefitting a
local woman’s shelter (and help Rachel’s class win!)
The girls (it was an all-girls school) enjoyed
collecting the diapers, making a huge production of
carting them into the school, and building a wall with
thousands of diapers. It was a fairly well-known
fundraiser in the community, and the girls had fun while
helping mothers in need.
Until my disabled, middle-aged
brother became incontinent, it didn’t occur to me that
Diaper Banks could help anyone—not just babies and
toddlers. Although my daughter’s school only collected
baby diapers, Diaper Banks are expanding to also include
adult protective briefs. Incontinence affects over
13 million adults and there are many more disabled older
children in need of protective briefs as well.
Incontinent supplies don’t come
Medicare only pays for these
supplies if a person is a patient in a hospital or
Skilled Nursing Facility. If a person living with
incontinence is at home or living in an Assisted Living
Facility, the cost is not covered by Medicare.
Supplemental insurance rarely covers these costs,
either. Sometimes these supplies are paid for by
Medicaid, but oftentimes the family pays for these
supplies out-of-pocket (which can run a family upwards
of $100 every month). For those living on Social
Security alone, this can easily move from a person’s
“must have” list to the wish list.
An unfortunate byproduct of this
sometimes out-of-reach expense is that if the cost of
adult protective briefs is too overwhelming for a
family, there may be a temptation to make a brief last
longer than it should. This can lead to other
health problems for the person living with incontinence.
This inability to wear protection and keep dry can also
lead to isolation and a fear of leaving the house in
case of an “accident.” Isolation leads to
depression. This can become a terrible downward
spiral all because adult protective briefs are not
within financial reach.
There is an alternative.
Diaper Banks are available in many
local cities and are growing in popularity. Diaper
Banks generally partner with local social service
agencies such as the United Way or the local food bank,
instead of distributing directly to the consumer.
Finding a Diaper Bank in your area is as easy as
searching “diaper bank” along with your city in the
search engine, using a few clicks on the computer (or by
finding them in your local phone book and calling).
The local Diaper Bank will be able to tell you which
social services agencies it partners with so you then
can contact that agency for assistance.If a Diaper
Bank cannot be found close by, contacting the local food
bank may be helpful. They may have their own
Diaper Bank or may be able to refer you to another local
agency who partners with a Diaper Bank.
Diaper Banks may not always include
adult incontinence products in the supplies they carry,
but many do and, if asked and shown the need, most would
start carrying these products. This can be a
welcome alternative to either going without these
supplies or paying for the adult protective briefs out
of pocket. If a local Diaper Bank cannot be found, it
is also possible to start one (or to convince a local
organization to start one). The need is there and,
due to the downturn in the economy, has grown in the
last few years.
If you or your family is in need of
some occasional help and adult protective briefs become
too expensive, don’t overlook your local Diaper Bank.
Many people are in the same position and help may be
just a phone call away. Reaching out for help from
your local Diaper Bank may get you (or your loved one)
out of the house and staying dry in no time.
As an added note, for those in a
position to organize or contribute to food or clothing
drives, remember diapers usually drop to the bottom of
the list of items to collect. Adult protective
briefs are even further down the list or forgotten
altogether. When thinking of ways to help your
community, don’t overlook this growing need.
Perhaps build your own wall of diapers!