Hygiene and Grooming in the Elderly

Depression, isolation, dementia, a fear of falling, or medication side effects can all cause seniors to lose interest or the ability to keep up with their personal hygiene and grooming. Often, an adult child is the first person to notice changes in mom or dad’s appearance. And, the burden of helping with hygiene often falls to a family member. In general, poor hygiene/grooming are a sign that a parent may need some assistance in the home–either from a family member or caregiver.

How to Help


Start the Conversation. Begin by gently communicating to your parent that you notice some changes in their grooming. Mom or dad may already know they have not kept up with their personal hygiene but feel embarrassed to say anything. Since elderly parents are often reluctant to ask for help they may feel a sense of relief that you brought the subject up first.

Offer Assistance. Kindly suggest to an elderly loved one that they now need help with bathing. For example, “Mom, I am worried you may fall when you shower. How about if I come by a couple of times a week to help you? We can hire a caregiver to come over if you prefer.” Since it can be exhausting, and irritating to their skin, seniors do not need to bathe more than twice a week.

Bathroom Safety. Make sure an elderly person’s bathroom is senior-friendly. If possible, walk-in tubs are best. Install safety bars/railings throughout the entire bath area. Rubber flooring, vinyl, or wall-to-wall carpeting are the safest flooring options for seniors. Only use one non-slip bathmat outside the tub. Install a chair-height toilet and make sure lighting is bright.

Schedule Appointments. Make regular hair and nail appointments for parents and offer to drive them to the salon. And, don’t forget the dentist. Seniors who have dentures and dental implants may need to have oral exams and cleanings up to four times a year. Many dental offices offer the services of a visiting hygienist who comes to a patient’s home for cleanings. Senior Living Consultants has referrals if you need local options.





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