As a senior gets older, personal hygiene can become more and more difficult. Habits become harder to maintain, energy levels and mobility both decrease, and seniors begin to skip important aspects of personal hygiene like grooming and bathing.
But there are many reasons why one should never skip out on personal hygiene. For one, confidence levels will be affected. And two, good hygiene is essential for preventing diseases and other health concerns. Take the following senior hygiene tips into account if you’re involved in a senior living community.
If you’re a caregiver, then this is the first step to take. It won’t be an easy discussion for either of you, but it’s essential that you have it anyway. Let him or her know where you’re coming from, that you love them, and want them to be in the best shape possible. You want them to be healthy so that they won’t develop health problems that can result from poor hygiene, such as UTIs or dermatitis. Try to be kind and not focus on what they can’t do, but rather on what they need and what you can help them with.
Follow a Daily Routine
Not only will maintaining a personal hygiene routine make you feel better and more comfortable, but it will also give your day more structure.
So to ensure that all personal hygiene needs are taken care of promptly, create and follow a daily routine that includes these tasks that can be marked off as they are completed. If you’re a caregiver, try to have this schedule coincide with when they are in a good mood or the most clear-headed. If possible, this is the time when you should help them with their washing and grooming.
Some examples of personal hygiene tasks that should be scheduled are: brushing of teeth, clipping nails, shaving, hair brushing, and deodorant application. These tasks should always be done at the same time to provide that sense of stability and structure that we mentioned earlier. This is helpful for all seniors, but especially for those with dementia because a stable routine can help to decrease anxiety.
Elastic Closures on Clothing
Dressing may seem simple if you aren’t yet a senior. However, there are actually many fine motor skills involved, and the large movement of limbs when dressing or undressing can be too much for a senior to handle. With that being said though, it’s still important to change into clean, fresh clothes every day. This can be made easier for a senior if they wear clothing with elastic closures. The senior should also dress while sitting down to help avoid any possible slipping or falling.
Bathing and Sponge Baths
There is no one rule for how often a senior should bathe. While showering every day might be ideal, that would only be the case if the senior is very mobile every single day. For seniors who aren’t like that, a shower every other day (with sponge baths to fill in the gap days) will suffice.
We don’t usually think about the nails on our hands and feet as a part of our personal hygiene, but we absolutely should. If these areas remain neglected, one can develop serious and painful infections. Nails should always be clipped when they get too long. They should also be filed so that the rough edges can smoothen out; that way, the edges don’t end up accidentally scratching the senior. And finally, nails should be kept away from damp areas and stay as dry as possible in order to avoid fungal infections.
Thankfully there are several devices on the market that help aid in elderly grooming and hygienic issues. Some examples of tools that can make hygiene safer and easier include the following:
- Shower chairs
- Toenail clippers
- No-rinse bathing wipes
- Long-handled shower brushes
When it comes to hairstyles,a good tip for seniors is to choose one that won’t be too hard to manage. Braided hair or short hair are both good choices to avoid tangling. But that’s not enough to make a good choice for a hairstyle; it should also be one that the senior will be happy with when they look at themselves in the mirror every morning. Otherwise, the senior will have lower self-esteem, and less motivation to stay groomed and hygienic every day. A hairstylist can help seniors find the right hairstyle that’s easy to maintain and makes the senior feel like a million bucks.
It’s the small things in life that matter. These small things also include combing your hair and even putting on your deodorant! As a caregiver, you should be allowing a (safe) level of independence in your senior’s life. While some forms of grooming may be difficult for them, they should be allowed to take care of their own dental hygiene (brushing and flossing their own teeth).
If you’re the caregiver, don’t be too authoritarian in your approach to helping them with their daily routine. Understand that everyone has their ups and downs, their good days and bad days, and seniors are no exception. Therefore you should let them skip a shower once in a while. Always show compassion. To help keep the spirit of structure and stability going, as well as their personal hygiene intact, you can give them a sponge bath along with some dry shampoo, and attempt to do a proper shower later when they’re in a better mood.
Do Bathing the Right Way
You might be inexperienced in this aspect of assisted living, so here are our tips for caregivers on how to safely bathe a senior:
- Do a bathroom safety check.
- Make the bathroom comfortable for them.
- Prevent the senior from feeling shy or embarrassed by providing them with a coverup (towel cover) during the shower.
- Act casual and relaxed during their shower – avoid talking about their health, stick to casual topics like their favorite movies, or what their kids are doing instead.
- Walk them through it every step of the way, for example, mention when you are going to turn on the water or wash their neck, etc.