Top tips for elderly personal hygiene. Personal hygiene is the maintenance of healthy body and hair care habits, and the avoidance of health problems. It refers to keeping physical, mental, and spiritual needs met to remain clean, safe, and comfortable.
This includes daily self-grooming such as washing with soap or brushing teeth; regular bathing; showering or bathing at least every other day; daily grooming before getting dressed. Most elderly people require some degree of assistance with personal hygiene due to aging. This can be from an aged care facility or paid attendant, such as a home health aide or nurse.
Below are some tips for personal hygiene in the elderly. These are given as examples and would need to be tailored to the individual needs of each elderly person. This can include a multi-disciplinary approach with any relevant health professionals including nursing home staff, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and others.
The mouth is a gateway to other parts of the body. So dental care and oral care are a high priority. Gum disease is prevalent in the elderly, so it is important to ensure that oral health is optimal. This can be done by brushing teeth twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing once daily. Dentures should also be removed nightly for cleaning, disinfection, and air drying.
This can include regular check-ups for any medical problems and treatment when necessary. The older person should be examined by a doctor to see if they need any medication or treatment. This could be done as a routine check-up as part of an older person’s health plan, and/or as a referral to a specialist or other health care provider.
If the person is at ideal body weight, they will have less pressure on their joints and tendons, allowing them to move easier. When they are not underweight, then there is no need to force them to eat more.
If the person has lost a lot of weight, it may be more appropriate to discuss eating habits. In terms of activity, this can be achieved through walking or by sitting in non-slip chairs while they are showering or bathing. It can also be done by doing exercises that involve large muscle groups. Such as sitting in a rocking chair and gently lifting their legs.
They should be dressed in comfortable clothing, with appropriate shoes to avoid any pressure when walking. Strains and sprains are common for those who lose balance easily and fall easily. This can be prevented by using non-slip mats in the bathroom. Or placing a handrail next to the shower or bathtub to assist with balance.
This could be about any aspect of personal hygiene. It could also relate to a medical condition or other health concern, and it is important not to make a person feel embarrassed or ashamed. The focus should always be on their dignity and their humanity.
The elderly must attend well-equipped public places such as lifts or escalators as they may not handle stairs well as they age, so care should be taken when transporting them in these places by ensuring they are traveling close together with someone able to carry them if necessary.
The mattress should be firm so that the person spends less time tossing and turning. It should be soft and supportive but not have extra fluff which can cause backache. To help with sleeping, the person may need to reduce screen time in the evening, exercise more regularly, and relax more before going to bed (e.g.: listen to soothing music or read a book). Other techniques that can help with sleeping include: avoiding caffeine; not eating heavy meals late in the day; managing stress; avoiding nicotine as much as possible; doing activities that are calming for them (e.g gentle stretching exercises).
The older person may require assistance or tools in the bathroom, especially if they are at an older age or have health conditions. There are many simple ways to make this a more comfortable situation, including using a non-slip mat on the toilet seat and ensuring that all items in and around the bathroom, such as razors, shaving cream, toothbrushes, and soap are kept clean and out of sight. It can also be helpful for them to sit down for most of their baths and showers rather than standing up.
The older person may have difficulty opening a window because of mobility issues, so they should be aware that it may be a good idea to open a window just enough to hear the birds singing or feel the breeze. It can also be useful to install an exhaust fan above the bed and make sure that there is adequate circulation between the room and the rest of the house.
They must be comfortable and feel safe with their caregiver while they are at their home or residential care facility. They should also be able to call their caregiver to ask for help, or if they need medical attention. It is very important to ensure there are no misunderstandings between the elderly person and the caregivers and it is recommended that there be a written agreement in place for future reference stating what each party’s role is about each other.
To summarise, the older person’s home, residential care facility, and environment must be clean, well-lit, and safe. It is also important that the older person has someone who cares for them at all times and that both parties understand how each other’s interaction can be beneficial for the older person’s health.