Elderly Hygiene Issues and Care

1/20/2014

One of the many obstacles in caring for an elderly loved one is to make sure that they are maintaining proper hygiene. This problem is exacerbated when the person refuses to take baths, shower or brush their teeth. The first part in addressing this issue is to identify potential reasons as to why this is occurring.

Depression

When a person is depressed, they will start to lose interest in routine practices like bathing. They will also suffer from a lack of energy, which can hinder daily hygiene practices.

Dementia

A person suffering from dementia can suffer from an intense fear of showering or bathing. They may be afraid of falling or not understand why water is falling on them. They might also be fearful of the person helping them if they forget who they are.

Memory

Some elderly people may simply forget when they last took a shower. This can be caused by the natural degradation of the memory and the fact that life has become more routine and similar for these people.

Control Issues

If you are nagging an elderly loved one to bathe, you can actually cause more harm than good. As people age, they start to lose control over a lot of what goes on in their lives. Refusing to listen to you by not showering when you demand it can actually give them a greater sense of control.

Habit

It may be that this person never really bathed as frequently as you do. Past generations actually bathe less, even limiting their washing to once a week. So it could be that your loved one is falling into a routine that they had developed long ago, before it was learned that bathing more frequently led to healthier lives.

What can you do?

If the cause of the problem is something that you can influence, like the control issues or easing fears, it is best to sit down with your loved one and delicately discuss your concerns. Explaining that you are interested in their well-being and providing comfort to them will go a long way. If the reason for hygiene neglect is a mental issue like Depression or Dementia, you should contact a health care professional and consider getting professional, personal, in-home care.

2nd Family is a senior home care provider with expertise in dealing with elderly hygiene issues. We are sensitive to the problems caused by Dementia and are well trained to deal with them. Contact us today for more information.

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