How to Change a Bedridden Patient's Adult Diapers

Nurse with bedridden patient
Photo © VOISIN/PHANIE/Getty Images

If you are caring for your loved one at home, you might find yourself responsible for changing the patient's adult diaper while he or she lies in bed. Following these simple steps can make the task easier for you and more comfortable for your loved one.

What You Will Need

  • Disposable medical gloves
  • A clean adult diaper
  • A plastic grocery bag
  • Pre-moistened wipes (such as baby wipes or wet wipes) or skin cleanser and disposable cloths
  • Barrier cream

Enlisting the help of another able-bodied adult will help with this process.

Consider acquiring a hospital bed if you don't have one already. It makes caring for the bedridden person easier and might make him feel more comfortable.

Changing a Bedridden Patient's Adult Diaper

  1. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly and put on a pair of disposable medical gloves.
  2. If the patient's bed is adjustable, raise the entire bed to a comfortable height (usually slightly lower than your hips). Lower the head of the bed as far down to horizontal as they can tolerate.
  3. With the patient resting on their back, unfasten the straps, Velcro, or adhesive tape of the adult diaper and then tuck the side farthest from you under the person's hip.
  4. With one hand on the patient's hip and the other on their shoulder, roll them away from you onto their side. You might find this easier with the help of another able-bodied person, who can then hold the patient on their side while you work.
  5. If you tucked the diaper far enough under their hip, you should now be able to pull the adult diaper toward you and out from under them. Roll the used diaper inward as you remove it to contain any mess.
  6. Place the soiled adult diaper into a plastic grocery bag for disposal (but do not seal the bag yet).
  7. Using pre-moistened wipes, or skin cleanser and disposable cloths, clean the person's diaper area, front and back, as thoroughly as possible. Avoid pressing or rubbing the skin too hard. You might need to roll the patient onto their back or on their side to thoroughly clean areas you cannot reach. Place used wipes or cloths in the plastic grocery bag.
  8. With the person still on their side, check the skin for pressure sores, which are also known as bedsores or pressure ulcers. It is important to check the skin daily for any early signs that a pressure sore has begun.
  9. Apply barrier cream to the patient's perineum to moisturize and protect the skin.
  10. After allowing the patient's skin to thoroughly dry, roll up one side of the new adult diaper and tuck it under their side. Flatten and position the rest of the diaper on the bed.
  11. Roll the person back toward you onto the diaper and then pull out the rolled-up side of the diaper. Remove any wrinkles and fasten the adult diaper as directed by the manufacturer. Again, this process is easier with two people.
  12. Remove your disposable medical gloves and place them in the plastic grocery bag before tying it closed.
  13. Wash and dry your hands thoroughly.
  14. If the patient's bed is adjustable, return it to the desired height and raise the head of the bed to the desired level. Cover the person with a clean sheet or blanket(s) if desired.

Finally, make sure you understand how to properly position a bed-bound patient. This can help prevent the development of bedsores and keep your loved one more comfortable.

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Article Sources
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  1. Mount Sinai Health Library. Pulling a patient up in bed. Updated November 15, 2017.

  2. Bhattacharya S, Mishra RK. Pressure ulcers: Current understanding and newer modalities of treatmentIndian J Plast Surg. 2015;48(1):4–16. doi:10.4103/0970-0358.155260

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Are you thinking about adult diapers for urinary incontinence? Updated July 22, 2019.