Deanna Vigliotta headshot
Deanna Vigliotta

Not long ago, I traveled to South Florida for business and stayed overnight at a Hampton Inn. For those who travel, you may know that the Hampton Inn offers a complimentary breakfast. I have always liked their morning coffee.

As is quite common for me, I awoke in the morning, made my way from my third-floor hotel room down to the hotel lobby, and headed straight for the self-serve coffee container located in the breakfast common area. Next to the coffee cups were napkins. The extraordinarily bright white color of these napkins struck me instantly and so I picked one up. Immediately, I could feel the high-quality construction of the napkin. It was thick. It was super soft. It was longer, wider and heavier than most disposable napkins that are found at hotels.

As I sat down by myself at a nearby corner table, my mind started to think about the quality construction of the napkin that I was now holding in my hand. It felt so much like a “holiday” napkin. I found my mind drifting back in time to some great memories of holidays past, when my own grandmother would host a big holiday at her house, and how much joy was shared with my family during that five- to six-hour period.

My mind took me to thoughts about the upcoming holiday season, and I began to think about how many people will have an early-evening phone conversation with a member of their immediate family, or extended family — perhaps a parent, an aunt, a great aunt or a sibling — and if they are so lucky, maybe even a grandparent. The conversation will be about the holidays and how “the family” is growing with kids growing up, girlfriends, boyfriends, who will be going where, how much someone in the family is missed, and how it feels as if almost overnight the family has become very large. “We’re all getting old,” someone will say. 

Many of these holiday conversations then will turn to “remember when?” with fond memories being exchanged by those involved in the conversation. Eventually the conversation will pivot to the question about who will be hosting the holiday dinner, what time everyone should arrive and what everyone can bring to help.

Many families across the country will maintain their year after year holiday celebrations and gather at “Nana’s” house, or at “Aunt Clara’s” house, or perhaps “Grandpa Jack’s” home. Their comfortable, memorable, yearly traditions will continue. Although many large family gathering traditions may continue for decades, either because several family members live in the same general geographical area, or family members have moved away but are able to travel home for the holidays, one thing that does change over time is that everyone attending is aging. 

What may change with family traditions, as Nana or Aunt Clara or Grandpa Jack get older, is that at some point in time, the cooking, the cleaning and the preparation for the big holiday celebration may feel like a lot more work for them. And so, a minor pivot from the holiday tradition may take place, with a conversation about disposable paper plates and disposable paper napkins being used in lieu of fine China and cloth napkins. 

When this happens, either prior to the “big day” or announced almost immediately as you enter your nana’s home, Nana will almost look for confirmation as she shares, “Now just so you know, I am not using the good plates and cloth napkins this year, because the family is just getting too big, and it’s a lot of work. It’s too much.  

“But we will have plenty of good food. I made my special chocolate cheesecake, cookies for the kids, and I bought the good plates and holiday napkins,“ Nana will share.

“Clean-up will be easy,” she will continue.

More than likely, as family and friends attending the gathering begin to use the disposable paper plates and holiday napkins, someone in the party will comment on the quality construction of the holiday paper plates and napkins because of their rich touch and feel. They will look nice and feel thick, and everyone will be comfortable filling their plates with all the holiday food and trimmings.

As the guests lay their high-quality holiday napkins across their laps at the dinner table, they will have no worries that if cranberry sauce, turkey gravy, cake crumbs or pieces of red and green cookie frosting fall on their napkins, they will have no issue with a mess. They are confident that the holiday napkin will protect them. They can “feel it.”  They have little doubt that the high-quality construction of that napkin will protect their clothes, thus protecting the microfiber seat of their dining room chair, and thus protecting the multicolored rug on the hardwood floor beneath them. 

As I started to eat my raspberry Greek yogurt in the breakfast area of the Hampton Inn, I also started to think about how many nanas, Aunt Claras and Grandpa Jacks will be spending this year’s holidays in a long-term care community, which led my mind to ponder how much a high-quality napkin shares common ground with a high-quality adult incontinence product.

Many people can easily identify high-quality because they either “see” it, “feel” it, or both.  And if they can’t literally “see” it, they can “feel” it in two ways.  One way is being the literal touch and feel of a product.  High quality pull-ups and briefs, just like high quality holiday napkins, feel better than others.  They are thicker, softer, and more comfortable to the touch.  And then there is the inner “feeling” or perhaps better stated as that “peace of mind” feeling.  For anyone familiar with incontinence products, products that are fully breathable, super absorbent, have inner leak guards, and are made of soft materials, will result in better outcomes for incontinent elders. 

From a clinical perspective, favorable outcomes can mean less risk of urinary tract infections and less risk of skin breakdowns.  There will also be less risk of falls as incontinent people who wear high quality products will be able to sleep uninterrupted through the night.  Incontinent elders will awake more alert, more engaged, and reap the benefits of restorative sleep.   

From a social perspective, wearing high quality pull-ups and briefs often results in users having more dignity and confidence to visit with their families, enjoy the holidays and sit at the family dinner table with less worry of an embarrassing situation from happening.

As we approach the holiday season, I encourage all readers of this article who are involved in buying incontinence products for residents and/or loved ones to educate themselves about the importance of choosing high-quality incontinence products, versus paying too little attention them, or even worse, buying a product based only on unit price. 

After all, many of the incontinent residents living in senior living communities this holiday season are quite likely to be our very own nanas, Aunt Claras and/or Grandpa Jacks who have gone out of their way for decades to provide great family memories for us by virtue of providing high-quality holiday napkins.

I am casting my vote for “holiday napkins,” aka high-quality incontinence products, year-round as one of the best gifts we can give to those loved ones in our circles who are no longer able to play “host” themselves any longer due to aging.

Deanna Vigliotta is the national sales manager for Seni premium adult incontinence products and has a 30-year background in healthcare sales and sales management. She joined Seni in early 2019 to help expand the brand presence on the US market and to educate consumers, healthcare professionals and senior living communities about the importance of choosing high-quality, fully breathable products.

The opinions expressed in each McKnight’s Senior Living marketplace column are those of the author and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Senior Living.

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