Good personal hygiene is very important. Why is it important? Well, let me explain all the benefits of good personal hygiene. Hope you enjoy reading…
The first step to good personal hygiene is – Hand-washing! It is important to wash your hands before you do a task and after you do a task. This helps to void the spread of germs and micro-organisms that are lurking around. Hand-washing is the first step to a better health. I am going to just say it, but with respect, the elderly can be like small children. They touch objects and won’t hesitate to put their fingers into their mouths. By allowing the elderly person to soak their hands in a bucket of warm water is very relaxing and therapeutic. One can put a few bubbles into the water and this can make for a great way to encourage water play.
Good hair hygiene is the best way to void dandruff and scalp diseases. And clean hair looks so lovely. Be cautious as to what shampoo one uses on the elderly’s hair. Not all people’s hair thin as they age, though there is a large group that have that happen to them. Try to use a gentle shampoo and avoid vigorous scrubbing of the scalp. A gentle scrubbing will not be a problem.
Regular brushing of the teeth is the best way to reduce the risk of gum disease and it also lowers the risk of cavities. Most people brush their teeth in the morning before breakfast and again at night before bed. But don’t forget to brush the tongue. Plaque builds up on the tongue – especially in the elderly frail people. The elderly don’t ‘clean’ their mouths with the tongue like younger people do. I also noted that the elderly don’t swallow all the food in the mouth. They sometimes forget that they need to swallow after chewing. Encouragement to swallow might be needed in the elderly during meal times. If your elderly charge hasn’t got any teeth, use a baby toothbrush to gently clean the gums and tongue. You can also use baby toothpaste as it is gentler on the sensitive gums.
Regular body washing is also important to keep healthy. From my experience with working with the elderly, their skin is thin and a lot more sensitive than younger skin. Also their skin tends to dry out a lot faster and then it becomes hard, flaky or itchy. To try and avoid this from happening might take a little time as you will need to find the ‘right’ soap to use. I also don’t suggest a heavy thorough shower or bath every day. Rather wash ‘top and tail’ on every second day and do a full wash every other day. The arms, legs and feet don’t need such a lot of washing like the body’s core does. Private areas need to be kept clean at all times and this will lower the risk of infections developing. Bacteria can breed in the armpits if they aren’t cleaned regularly. And the process of drying with a towel encourages blood circulation in the body. There are exceptions to body hygiene limits – if your elderly charge has oily skin a more regular full washing might the best answer or if there is a skin condition then you need to follow the doctor’s orders as to the best hygiene care needed.
I need to add, that people with dementia can’t see water and this might make for a very difficult bathing session. Put a little colour into the water or bubbles. If you are showering the person, don’t just put the water over their heads, rather take it slowly and introduce the water to one part of the body and slowly wet more body until the whole body is wet and the person is comfortable with allowing you to wash them.
Nail care is sometimes forgotten. Finger nails should be kept short and clean. Under the nails bacteria will breed and this might contribute to the spread of bacteria. Also toenails should be kept short and clean. When you cut the toenails, cut straight across the nail and not round it like with the fingernails. If you don’t cut straight, ingrown toenails will form and it is painful. Also be very careful when cutting the toenails of a diabetic person. Don’t cut it too short. Take time when cutting nails. Make a spa session out of it. Soak the hands or feet in warm water with a little soap. Cut the softened nails gently and finish off with a lovely relaxing massage by using a lotion of the elderly person’s liking or a water-based cream. Be gentle as the skin is thin and can tear easily.
All of the above mentioned hygiene actions not only provide a good personal hygiene for the one person, but it allows for bonding time together. So don’t rush, take your time, talk about general topics (this also helps to avoid the embarrassment that might be present when you have to wash your father or mother).
I hope you enjoyed this article.