TENAFLY, N.J. — Tenafly caregiver Marlene Ceragno of Fort Lee understands the stigma associated with adult incontinence. That's why she is working to help the people who suffer from it.
In 2012, she started the Adult Care Brief Bank, an initiative to collect and distribute adult briefs — also referred to as adult diapers — to Bergen County senior citizens who cannot afford them.
To date, Ceragno has been able to provide 85,000 pairs of briefs and counting, and has earned herself the nickname "Brief Babe."
"I just want seniors golden years to be golden," said Ceragno, 60, who works as the program and caregiver services coordinator at Kaplen Jewish Community Center on the Palisades in Tenafly.
"There is a strong stigma associated with this, but it is something that is very important," she said.
Ceragno first realized the need for the Brief Bank when she was providing care for her incontinent aunt in 2011, who was living on government benefits.
"I found that the products were cost prohibitive for somebody living on social security," she said.
After discovering there were no benefits to pay for adult briefs, she made the Brief Bank her thesis for her master's in Gerontology.
Many organizations were not enthusiastic about hosting a drive for adult briefs at first, she said.
"It’s cute to have a Pampers bin in the lobby but it's not cute to have an adult diaper bin," Ceragno said.
Eventually Ceragno's employer agreed to host a drive, and the Center for Food Action in Englewood agreed to distribute the briefs to seniors in need.
Several other organizations have since stepped forward to help with the Brief Bank, including Bergen County Meals on Wheels, Pascack Valley Meals on Wheels, the Bergen County CHEER Program and Bergen Family Center.
"I am so happy to be able to provide these products because they allow seniors to be more social, mobile and independent," Ceragno said.
Ceragno is currently seeking a nonprofit designation for the Brief Bank, and hopes to bring her services to neighboring counties.
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