Personal hygiene is an essential part of every individual’s daily routine. You get up, shower, clean your teeth, deodorise and repeat the same steps in the evening to make sure that you stay fresh all day long. Being personally hygienic can make you feel great. However, what if you were to be unable to fully look after yourself and nobody would actually carry out that routine for you? You would go into every day feeling dirty and that would only serve to induce depression and frustration. It is therefore important to establish a hygiene routine whilst caring for the elderly so that you don’t miss anything out.
If you are responsible for washing the elderly person that you are caring for then you should pay attention to the routine that you are establishing and talk them through it the first few times so they know what to expect. This will not only build up trust, but may go some way to helping them relax. Many seniors are somewhat reluctant to let anyone administer their personal care, and understandably so. If you rely on someone to do everything for you then you are likely to feel as if you have lost all of the self-respect you had for yourself, as well as your dignity. It is exactly the same for seniors, regardless of illness and mental state, unless they are completely unaware of what is going on. Some seniors may even react angrily but again this is completely understandable. It may be unpleasant to experience verbal abuse, which you may just get in this situation, but if you put yourself in their shoes you will understand exactly where they are coming from.
If the senior in your care can be encouraged to maintain their personal hygiene and can be trusted then you should always allow them to administer their own personal care. Not only does this promote their independence, but is also gives them a sense of purpose. Even if they can only do one little thing for themselves then it is better than nothing!
The routine that you establish regarding a senior’s personal hygiene should include all the basic elements that we include in our own daily routine. Showering, washing all of the nooks and crannies, deodorising and brushing teeth should always be the integral elements. This should take place every day. However, the routine can incorporate other things. For example, if the female senior in you care like to put on makeup to feel feminine then you should encourage it as far as possible in order to maintain her identity.
It is also worth noting that maintaining good personal hygiene for the elderly in your care will not only promote mental well-being, it will also promote physical health. If you are washing someone, then you are likely to note any lumps, bumps and bruises as well as any bodily changes that may spell trouble in the future. By noticing and noting changes in a care plan, you are creating a medical record that may lead to early diagnosis of illnesses. Also, if there is more than one carer performing the same role for the elderly people in your care, it may also alert them to any physical changes.
Personal hygiene is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of caring for the elderly. It can be a sensitive area but, if handled in the right way, it can also form a bond between you. As long as effective hygiene is maintained, the rest will fall into place as far as their appearance is concerned.
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