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Senior Hygiene: Rethinking Daily Bathing Habits for Older Adults

senior hygiene
Proper senior hygiene is essential to maintaining seniors’ health and dignity.

Sinking into a soothing, warm, bubble bath at the end of a stressful day, and stepping into a hot, invigorating shower first thing in the morning are daily pleasures for a great many of us. However it is possible to have too much of a good thing in regards to senior hygiene. You might want to rethink that daily bath or shower for older adults, for several reasons:

  • Mobility issues
  • The risk of skin infections from dry, cracked skin
  • A greater chance of falls on slippery floors
  • Fatigue
  • Thinner skin which can lead to easier bruising and other injuries
  • And more

How Often Should an Older Adult Bathe?

A couple of times weekly is appropriate to maintain personal senior hygiene. In between, a warm washcloth can be used to clean areas that require additional attention. This is particularly important for seniors who wear products to manage incontinence.

Special Considerations for Dementia

One exception to think about is a senior with dementia. Because routine is extremely important when cognitive issues are a factor, a regular shower or bath may be a source of comfort. If a loved one with Alzheimer’s is fearful or resists personal hygiene, however, try the following recommendations:

  • Encourage independence. Empower the person to remain in control of the bathing process whenever you can. Encourage them to participate according to their ability level, even if that means just holding onto the shampoo bottle or washcloth.
  • Ease fears. The loud, pounding sound of a shower or bathwater running is terrifying for many older adults with Alzheimer’s. A handheld shower set at a minimal level is quieter and permits the person to see where the water is originating from.
  • Talk through each step of the process. Explain what’s going to happen in simple terms and in a soothing tone of voice prior to each part of the bathing process.
  • Focus on comfort. Keep the bathroom warm. Turn on music they enjoy. Have plenty of big, soft towels readily available. Use shampoo and body wash or soap in a calming, pleasant scent.
  • Establish a positive association. Incorporate a particularly enjoyable activity at the conclusion of the bath-time routine. For example, provide a favorite snack that is only served after bathing so it creates a positive connection.

Frequently, older adults feel most comfortable having assistance with personal hygiene needs from a professional caregiver. Home Sweet Home In-Home Care’s care team is fully trained and experienced in providing support for safe, comfortable showers or baths. Our focus is always on ensuring dignity and respect and addressing any specific concerns or fears with skill and empathy. Call us to learn more at (866) 229-2505.

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