Helping and encouraging elderly patients to maintain personal hygiene and grooming is an important part of their care. If a person looks good, they will feel good. As a care worker it’s important to make senior people feel the best they can while helping them maintain their self-esteem and dignity.
One thing you should keep in mind when helping others with their personal hygiene and grooming matters is that you are dealing with a human being. Everyone has feelings and everyone appreciates a little respect. It’s not always easy for people to accept help with cleaning and grooming as it can be embarrassing or even painful.
The person’s health and level of ability will determine how much help they actually need. Some elderly people may just need help preparing the bath and being there just in case of an emergency. Others will be much more dependent and may need you to physically wash them, towel them, and dress them.
Helpful hints for bathing an elderly person
Stick to regular bathing times:
Try and stick to the schedule as much as possible as a regular routine helps to maintain personal hygiene.
Have everything you need to hand: This includes any soaps, face cloths, and towels required for the bathing process.
Discuss bathing with them:
It’s always a good idea to have a conversation with the elderly person first before bathing them just to see: a) if they’re ok with it, b) do they have any time preferences as to when they bathe, c) are there any particular soaps or other bathing products they prefer to use, and so on. Gathering as much information about the person and the bathing habits to begin with will save a lot of problems later on.
Be gentle with them:
The older you are the more fragile your skin becomes so always make sure you’re very gentle when cleansing and only pat the skin dry opposed to wiping it.
Suggest a bath instead of a shower: By far a bath is the safer option of bathing for an elderly person, but if they do insist on a shower, it’s their choice. Just ensure you are on hand in case of any problems.
Ensure non-slip mats are on the floor and handrails available to encourage the elderly to assist themselves.
Remain calm and casual:
Being anxious or embarrassed will not help the person you’re trying to assist. So, put any uneasy feelings aside and maintain calm, relaxed, professional manner at all times.
Helpful hints for dressing an elderly person
Talk with them first about what it is they like to wear and how much assistance they require getting dressed and only offer help for tasks that are necessary.
Lay out a couple of choices for them so they can still have some control over what they wear.
If possible, opt for choices that are button or buckle free and instead encourage zips, Velcro, and elasticated waistbands.
Help them out by laying out clothes in the order they need to be put on.
Assit them to transition when unitng an oxygen concentrator or similar.
Make sure the person has lots of their favourite items available such as slips or singlets.
Maintaining good oral hygiene is very important for the elderly, regardless of if they have their own teeth or dentures. It’s vital that regular checkups to the dentist are adhered to, as is a good routine for cleaning the teeth and mouth. Use a soft cloth to wash and massage the gums and a sift brush to clean dentures. Also remember that it’s important dentures are left out of the mouth for a minimum of six hours a day. This gives the mouth and gums a chance to rest.