Personal hygiene often declines with age. Elderly loved ones may have difficulty standing in the shower, getting in and out of the bath, or maintaining enough balance to stand in front of the sink. Seniors may refuse help with personal hygiene, resulting in a constant struggle between the caregiver and elderly individual. In some instances, our loved ones may simply forget to wash and bathe. When these types of situations occur, it is important to provide support and offer assistance with essential hygiene tasks. Follow this guide for providing personal hygiene care for the elderly.
1. Establish a Routine
It is easier for seniors to forget or neglect their hygiene when they do not have a solid routine in place. Start the morning off right by helping your loved one freshen up. Have a warm shower or bath waiting and make sure that shampoo, soap, and other essentials are within reach. Once washed, move to the sink for teeth brushing, followed by hair care. As many elderly individuals live a fairly sedentary lifestyle, they may not need to shower or bathe daily. The routine may involve bathing just three times a week.
2. Implement Safety Measures
Slip-and-fall accidents can occur when proper safety measures are not taken. Falls are highly common in the bathroom due to slippery floors, low toilet seats, and inadequate towel racks and grab bars. Start by adding a raised toilet seat which raises the toilet seat about three to four inches. Place non-slip mats on the floor of the shower or tub, and if your budget allows, consider installing a walk-in tub. Seniors who have difficulty standing for long periods of time may benefit from a shower chair or transfer bench. Also install grab bars to make it easier for your loved one to get in and out of the tub.
3. Create a Relaxing Atmosphere
Some seniors feel embarrassed for needing help with bathing and hygiene. One way to help calm and soothe your loved one is by creating a relaxing environment. Play classical music or your loved one’s favorite songs. Try to keep any conservation natural and casual to help distract the person from the hygiene tasks at hand. Try to allow your loved one to maintain as much independence as possible but do not be afraid to step in when assistance is clearly needed.
4. Protect the Person’s Modesty
Some seniors may find having someone else help them shower or bathe to be a degrading experience. Whenever possible, it is important to try and protect the elderly person’s modesty. Allow your loved one to cover the body parts with a towel that are not being actively. When cleaning the person’s private parts, allow them to help you wash these areas. Have a towel and clean clothes ready for the person for when they exit the shower or bath. These actions will help your loved one feel more in control over the hygiene process.
5. Invest in Hygiene Aids
There are countless products on the market designed to address common hygiene issues in the elderly. By providing your loved one with some of these devices, you may make their life a little easier. Shower chairs or benches can be useful for seniors who have strength or balance problems. Bathing wipes, long-handled shower brushes, no-rinse shampoo caps, and easy grip nail clippers can be invaluable for seniors who want to partake in their hygiene. Assistive devices like hair washing trays can also make it easier for caregivers to complete hygiene tasks quickly and without causing discomfort.
6. Follow Up with Moisturizer
The natural aging process can cause skin to become dry, thin, and brittle. By applying moisturizers to the skin like lotions or creams, you can help keep your loved one’s skin soft and hydrated. As seniors have delicate skin, you will want to be gentle while applying the product. Consider giving your loved one a soothing massage while applying the lotion. Opt for a non-scented or light-scented moisturizer as lotions that are highly scented can be nauseating to some seniors who may be sensitive to certain fragrances. Aging skin can also benefit from moisturizers containing antioxidants and vitamins C and E.
7. Focus on Dental Care
Caregivers often overlook dental care for a number of reasons. If your loved one still has their natural teeth, brushing and flossing twice a day is a must. Seniors with dentures should practice good hygiene by rinsing their dentures after eating, cleaning their mouth after removing the dentures, brushing the dentures daily, and soaking them at night. Dental care should also involve regular visits to the dentist for oral healthcare checkups. Remember that oral health does not just affect the mouth, but has also been linked with other conditions like heart disease.
8. Call in a Professional
Not all family members are cut out to be caregivers. Some family members may not feel comfortable providing personal hygiene to others, and sometimes seniors are not comfortable receiving assistance with hygiene from their loved ones. When situations like this occur, it is best to bring in a professional trained to provide direct care to the elderly. With home care, seniors are able to remain in their own homes while still receiving one-on-one care from a trained professional who can assist with all aspects of personal hygiene, such as bathing, showering, bed baths, grooming, oral hygiene, and toileting.
Importance of Personal Hygiene
Good hygiene is an essential component of healthy living. As dirt, oils, and bacteria accumulate on the skin, proper cleansing is necessary to prevent infections from developing. Unfortunately, some seniors are unable to clean themselves, may forget to wash, or may neglect their hygiene needs. While loved ones can provide support and assistance to their aging loved ones, this might not always be enough. Calling in a home health care professional can be invaluable when you are concerned about your loved one’s hygiene. For more information about personal hygiene care for the elderly, contact Comfort Home Care today.