Bathing, Grooming, and Hygiene for the Elderly

Helping an Elderly Parent With Bathing, Grooming, and Hygiene

In Health, Inspiration by Companions for Seniors

There are many everyday activities that can cause trouble for the elderly, including all the little things that go into bathing, grooming, dressing, and taking care of personal hygiene. 

For seniors, these important daily tasks can often feel difficult, for any number of reasons. Older adults may be experiencing physical pain, limited mobility, or discomfort, which can make it unpleasant to take a shower, get dressed, or even sit and stand from the toilet. 

In other cases, cognitive changes — such as memory loss — can make it more difficult for some seniors to get into a steady habit when it comes to grooming or hygiene. 

Sometimes, seniors may also be reluctant to bathe, dress, or shower for social or emotional reasons. It is quite common for older adults who are suffering from depression or loneliness to give up on tasks that require a lot of time and effort. Other seniors may have anxieties about slipping and falling in the bathroom, or may even put off these daily rituals deliberately, as a way to exert some control over their day-to-day routines. 

Whatever the reason behind the change, it can be difficult to see an elderly loved one struggle with bathing, grooming, going to the bathroom, and taking care of other routine activities of daily living (or ADLs). WIth that said, however, it can also be daunting to bring up your concerns with your loved one. It can feel embarrassing and uncomfortable to talk about grooming and hygiene. It’s easy to feel like you’re crossing a line — especially if your loved one needs support and hands-on help to get back into the swing of bathing or dressing. 

As a loving family caregiver, it’s important to know how to assist your loved ones with these personal and private ADLs — including reaching out for extra help from an experienced, professional caregiver or senior companion. 

The Importance of Getting Help for Your Elderly Loved Ones

As a family caregiver, it’s important to be on the lookout for “yellow flags” that your parent or senior loved one may need help above what you can provide. Often, changes to a senior’s grooming, bathing, and hygiene habits might be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. Older adults who have difficulty dressing, put off bathing, or forget to care for themselves often need more help than even the most dedicated son or daughter can offer. 

In these situations, many seniors can benefit from the personalized attention and support provided by a non-medical home care provider. 

Also known as companion care or in-home care, non-medical home care focuses on giving seniors the support they need to live independently and age in place in the comfort and safety of home. While this type of long-term care cannot provide medical treatment, it can help seniors meet everyday challenges, while also enriching their lives thanks to meaningful companionship and social support. From a few hours a week to 24 hours a day, a professional caregiver or companion can help your loved one complete routine ADLs such as bathing, dressing, going to the bathroom, and walking, while respecting their privacy and making sure they feel treated with dignity at every step of the way. 

Getting help from a professional caregiver has benefits to offer not only the elderly, but the family caregivers who love and support them. Home care: 

  • Helps seniors and family caregivers maintain their relationship. Having a caregiver assist with these private moments can help families maintain their healthy boundaries. This can help give family caregivers some valuable space, and help keep seniors from feeling totally dependent on their loved ones. 
  • Provides seniors with privacy and respect. While it may take some adjustment, many elderly adults will ultimately feel more independent and fulfilled receiving assistance from a third party, rather than a close family member. 
  • Can help make bathing, grooming, and dressing easier, safer and more comfortable. Bathing and dressing can be easier said than done for older adults. A professional caregiver knows practices and techniques that can make these routines safer and more accommodating, above what an informal family caregiver can offer. 

How Family Caregivers Can Help Seniors Bathe and Dress With Comfort and Dignity

As a family caregiver, there will likely be moments when you need to step in and help out your loved one. Fortunately, there are many simple steps you can take to help your loved one bathe, dress, groom, and care for themselves, while helping them feel comfortable, independent, and respected:

  • Safety first. Make sure the bathroom is senior-friendly by making updates and additions, such as installing grab bars, improving the lighting, laying down non-stick mats, adding a shower bench, and so on.
  • Respect the senior’s privacy. Help your loved one use a towel to cover up when getting in and out of the bath. Keep doors and windows closed to maintain their privacy, and step away, if requested . For example, you can wait just outside the bathroom and come in when they ask for a hand. 
  • Have all supplies ready to go. Make things more streamlined by having all supplies and equipment set out ahead of time. For bathing, this includes brushes, shampoos, washcloths, towels, and soap. To make getting dressed easier in the morning, help your loved one set out their clothes the night before. Make grooming easier by helping your loved one get to know how to use an electric toothbrush or an electric razor. Leave out lotions and skin creams in the bathroom or on your loved one’s bedside table. 
  • Have an open conversation. Having discussions about these intimate matters can be difficult, for you and for the senior in your life. Be respectful and patient. Be tactful when addressing your concerns, so your loved one doesn’t feel attacked or singled out. Listen to the senior’s thoughts and opinions, and try to be respectful of their routine and preferences — for example, if they prefer to bathe in the morning or evening, or if they have a preferred brand of shower gel. 
  • Be patient and respectful. This can be a difficult set of circumstances, both for you and your elderly loved one. Be respectful and know that your senior loved one might feel emotionally and physically vulnerable. When lending a helping hand, speak slowly and reassuringly. Take your time and don’t rush. Avoid making jerky or sudden moves, which can increase the likelihood of a fall. Be sure to ask if the water temperature of the bath or shower is all right, and take notice if your loved one seems to be uncomfortable or in pain. 

How Companions for Seniors Can Help

Are you starting to see small or significant changes or worrying signs from your aging loved ones, such as difficulties with dressing, bathing, or grooming? Does your loved one require personal assistance above what you feel comfortable providing? If so, it may be time to consider your options for getting your loved one the support they need. 

At Companions for Seniors, our mission is to help seniors live independently and with dignity in the comfort of their own home by empowering them to lead an active and enriched lifestyle, connecting them with their community, and nurturing meaningful relationships.

Our companions are trained and bonded, and can help provide a variety of services designed to help your loved one remain in the comfort and safety of their own home. Companions are available for full-time or part-time care, and can help your senior loved one keep up with grooming, bathing, running errands, attending appointments, cooking meals, doing housework, and so much more.

Have any more questions? Interested in seeing what sets our home care services apart? Give us a call at 866-910-9020 or get in touch online today to get the conversation started.