Many disabled people are obliged to wear diapers for a variety of reasons, incontinence and inability to use a bathroom unaided among the most common. This is a life-long, everyday reality for many disabled persons, and both the prevalence and the frequency of bladder problems associated with many disabilities increase with age.
According to Pima County government statistics used for planning services for disabled adults, in 2007, 13 percent of Pima County residents between the ages of 16 and 64 were disabled – 76,940 people. Of those disabled adults, 31 percent live below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. These numbers only include people with disabilities who are living independently, either alone or with family – not those who are institutionalized and have greater access to care.
If not for the Diaper Bank’s monthly incontinent supply donations to our partner agencies, many of our community’s disabled would suffer decreased quality of life, ranging from constant discomfort due to accidents to being unable to leave their homes. The Diaper Bank is also committed to providing information to disabled adults about the potential to overcome or reduce incontinence, especially for clients for whom mobility is the primary problem. We provide information about aids designed to improve independence, such as commodes and personal urinals, aids to be used in the bathroom, such as raised toilet seats, and the incontinence devices we supply, such as briefs and pads.
Pima County has one of the highest concentrations of older adults in the southwest; more than 20 percent of Pima County’s population is over 60 years of age. By 2020 it is projected to be 25 percent, one in four. Pima County’s 60 plus population increased 138 percent in the last 28 years while the total population increased 90 percent. The fastest growing segment of the aging population is individuals over 85, the most vulnerable who tend to need assistance. At a time when Southern Arizona’s communities need to be building infrastructure and planning to care for our increasing aging population, services are instead being reduced for even the lowest-income seniors.
More than 12,000 (8.5 percent) of Pima County’s elderly population live below the federal poverty level, leaving many unable to pay for critical services. Pima Council on Aging (PCOA) conducted the Community Needs Assessment 2011-2013 and published the Area Plan on Aging. The report identified major problem areas for seniors including, lack of affordable dental and health care, understanding Medicare, maintaining and repairing their home, access to transportation, assistance with meals, housekeeping, laundry and personal care. “More pronounced in this current needs assessment, though, was the number of individuals concerned with income to meet their basic needs…”
The supplies distributed by the Diaper Bank through our partner organizations is part of a larger continuum of services that not only supports Southern Arizona’s older adults remaining in their own homes, but also contributes to their dignity and quality of life. If not for the Diaper Bank’s monthly incontinence supply donations to our partner agencies many of our community’s elderly would be unable to leave their homes to due to fear of embarrassment, and would live in compromised comfort even while at home.