As our loved ones age, it becomes more difficult for them to complete tasks on their own. Often, the elderly’s personal hygiene declining is one of the first signs that your loved one needs assistance with their day-to-day lives.
Personal hygiene for the elderly is important because, in addition to just wanting to feel clean and neat, good hygiene also boosts mood and self-esteem. Here is a simple, six-step personal hygiene checklist that can be followed to provide proper personal hygiene care for elderly individuals.
Six-Step Personal Hygiene Checklist
1. Establish a Daily Routine
Incorporating a daily routine into one's lifestyle can prove to be a highly effective method of establishing a consistent schedule. By adhering to a structured routine, one can ensure that no important task or responsibility goes overlooked. This not only helps to increase productivity but also fosters a sense of discipline and purpose in one's daily life.
2. Bathe or Shower Regularly
Starting the day with a good cleanse can do wonders for your mood and health. It not only makes you feel good, but it also reduces the risk of infection by eliminating harmful bacteria. Taking the time to cleanse properly is a proactive way to maintain your overall health and well-being.
3. Properly Care for the Skin
Skincare is an important part of elderly hygiene care since our skin thins and becomes more brittle with age. Moisturizers provide much needed vitamins to the skin and also help protect it against cracks and small cuts. In addition, soft, moisturized skin just feels better.
4. Maintain Oral Care
Seniors are more prone to tooth decay and gum disease, so proper oral care is a must. Oral care is even more important when dentures are involved. Dentures should be rinsed after every meal, and the mouth should be rinsed out as well (warm salt water is a great option for this). Dentures should be soaked overnight and rinsed thoroughly every morning before wearing.
5. Care for Hair and Nails
Think of how great you feel when you’re having a good hair day - that doesn’t change once you have 70 or more birthdays. Seniors still need their hair washed, cut, and styled both for hygiene and self-confidence. Also, be sure to clean under the fingernails. Fingernails often get cleaned underneath when we wash our hair. If your senior loved one isn’t washing their own hair, be sure to clean under their nails regularly to prevent bacteria from building up and causing an infection.
6. Keep Clothes, Bedding and Linens Clean
It's understandable that many seniors find it challenging to bathe every day, and that's perfectly fine. However, it's important to ensure that their clothes, bedding, and linens are changed and washed at least once a week, as they tend to hold onto sweat and bacteria that the body naturally creates. This simple routine can go a long way in maintaining their hygiene and overall health.
Implementing Safety Measures
Safety and personal hygiene are closely intertwined, especially for seniors. Ensuring good personal hygiene contributes significantly to the overall safety and well-being of elderly individuals. For example, the bathroom can be a dangerous place for the elderly, with many opportunities for a slip and fall. Consider adding grab bars for support around the toilet and in the shower. A walk-in tub or seat for the shower will be useful, along with a raised toilet seat. By promoting good personal hygiene practices, caregivers and seniors themselves can create a safer and more comfortable living environment that enhances both physical and mental well-being.
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Talk to Your Loved One About Personal Hygiene
One important aspect to remember when helping with hygiene care for the elderly is to respect your elderly loved one's feelings. Be mindful that needing help with what used to be simple, everyday tasks can make your loved one feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. Doing everything you can to help them feel comfortable and covered, especially as you help them bathe private areas, will make the experience easier and more pleasant for both of you.