Seniors are pillars of strength and perseverance, but declining mental health can create a need for assistance. One area this applies to is personal hygiene. It’s common for the elderly to either forget or be unable to maintain hygiene. When this occurs there are several steps you can take to keep your loved one healthy.
1. Have an Honest Discussion
Unless the senior is unable to engage in a conversation, it’s important to sit down and have a talk about the next steps. Allowing someone else to maintain your cleanliness can be embarrassing. Let your loved one set boundaries, and try to follow through as long as the elder stays hygienic. Make sure the senior acknowledges your continued respect and love. It’s also important to ensure that any caregivers or nursing homes are having this discussion. If a boundary is crossed or hygiene is neglected, a poor hygiene attorney can come to your aid.
2. Establish a Routine
In order to normalize assisted hygiene care for elders, it’s key to create a regular routine. This makes the transition less difficult, as well as easier to maintain. If you forget an activity due to a fluctuating schedule, it’s likely the senior will forget as well. It also helps to keep elements of a familiar routine. This may include showering at the usual time or waiting until after a show to bathe. Elders may initially protest the assistance, but normalizing it will help quell any anxieties.
3. Instill Safety Measures
Before you begin caring for your elder, it’s essential to implement any necessary safety precautions. If the senior is prone to losing their balance, it would be wise to use a shower chair, add a non-slip mat or install a handrail. Analyze what your loved one needs to stay safe and try to provide it. While hygiene is imperative, safety is always the more immediate concern.
4. Maintain Oral Hygiene
One of the more overlooked aspects of elder care is oral hygiene. Neglected teeth can cause a world of problems for the elderly. In fact, studies have found links between heart disease and poor oral hygiene. Seniors are encouraged to use electric toothbrushes and high-fluoride toothpaste. You should also be sure to take a visit to the dentist every six months, particularly to check for disease or cancer in the gums. If your elder uses dentures, which are prone to picking up bacteria, make sure a cleaning occurs daily.
5. Follow the Appropriate Bathing Steps
It can be difficult to find a comfortable bathing method for an elder, but there are a few basic steps that should be taken. First, don’t bathe your loved one every day. It can create skin dryness and irritation. Instead, bathe a couple times a week consistently. Be sure to clean in all areas, even in the folds and creases. After the bath or shower, pat the senior dry instead of rubbing to eliminate any discomfort. Lastly, moisturizing your elder’s skin will help alleviate dryness, as well as provide a relaxing experience.
6. Organize all Materials
You may not be the biggest fan of incessant organization, but ensuring that your supplies are placed correctly is paramount. If you’re in the middle of a bathing session, you don’t want to realize the soap is gone. This will leave the senior anxious and confused as you leave to retrieve it. Have a specific place for everything and make a spot check routine.
7. Create a Comfortable Environment
Even with an established routine and boundaries, it can be uncomfortable for seniors to allow assistance with hygiene. Another step that will increase comfort is to create a relaxing atmosphere. Surround the elder with treasured possessions and experiences. For instance, you can play a favorite song, light a loved candle or put on an entertaining program.
Aging can be a difficult process to undertake, but ensuring the continuance of personal hygiene is immensely helpful. It keeps the elderly healthy and able to maintain an active lifestyle. Show your loved one you care by encouraging great hygiene and a carefree attitude.