Among the various duties of caring for a senior is the very important task of helping them maintain proper personal hygiene. The simple act of bathing is something that most of us take for granted. However, as people get older, taking a shower or bath can become too physically demanding. According to a recent analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services, almost half of all adults over 65 require help with daily activities.
Knowing how how to assist seniors with personal hygiene can help them to maintain their dignity, while making the process safer and less stressful for them and the caregiver.
Losing the ability to maintain their own hygiene can be emotionally difficult for seniors. Determining just how much assistance an older person needs is an important first step. For example, if a senior can easily wash their upper body and extremities, allow them to do so, assisting only to wash their back and lower legs. Maintaining a certain amount of independence will increase their sense of control over the process.
Make sure the bathroom is free from any hazards that could cause physical harm. A beautiful throw rug presents a trip hazard. A non-slip surface in the shower, as well as securely installed grab bars, will reduce the risk of falls. Doctors can also recommend assistive technology, such as waterproof medical alert devices, in case the senior falls.
Getting a senior into the shower or bath is where much of the fall danger exists. Take it slow to be safe. Also, if the caregiver hurries, seniors will find it tougher to keep calm and will be more prone to accidents.
The embarrassment of an assisted washing can be too much for a senior. Creating a peaceful atmosphere will help. Play classical music or whatever the senior enjoys during showers or baths. As you wash, confidently explain what you are doing, one step at a time. Keep the conversation natural and relaxed, talking about what is playing on TV, or the weather.
Maintain a sense of humor and keep a light, happy attitude. Make sure a towel is at hand to ensure the senior doesn’t get cold. Protect the senior’s modesty by having a robe or clothing close at hand so they can get dressed immediately.
It’s important to note that with seniors’ easygoing lifestyles, daily baths may not be necessary. Putting together a bathing schedule that meets the senior’s needs will minimize intrusiveness on their lives.
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