How to Help an Older Adult with Poor Hygiene

By 9  am On


Older adults can sometimes begin to let their personal hygiene go. You should always be concerned if you notice your senior loved one suddenly stops washing his or her hair or bathing, because there’s usually a reason for the sudden lack of self-care. Opening up a dialogue with your loved one helps you get to the heart of the problem so you can find effective strategies for helping him or her stay clean. 

Show Compassion

Your loved one’s body odor may be noticeable to everyone, but you don’t need to call him or her out in front of other people. Wait until you and your parent are alone to bring up the topic of personal hygiene. You might also want to begin the talk when you know your loved one is comfortable. To keep this conversation from feeling like an attack, try asking open-ended questions that encourage your loved one to share what’s going on. 

Identify the Issues

There are several common reasons older adults may develop poor hygiene. They may have valid fears that prevent them from trying to bathe, such as being afraid of falling in the tub, a fear that’s especially common among seniors who have already experienced fall-related accidents. Your loved one may also be physically unable to perform his or her hygiene routine. It may be painful or impossible for your parent to raise his or her arms to wash his or her hair. 

A professional caregiver can help your loved one with a variety of tasks at home, including maintaining hygiene. Many seniors prefer aging in place over moving to assisted living facilities. If your senior loved one needs assistance to remain safe and comfortable while living at home, reach out to Assisting Hands Home Care, a leading senior care agency. Our dedicated in-home caregivers can assist with meal prep, bathing and grooming, exercise, medication reminders, and many other important tasks.

Look for Assistive Devices

Once you identify the issues, try to find assistive devices that can make things easier. Special long-armed reachers are available that allow seniors to clean themselves after using the restroom. Your loved one may also need something as simple as a handheld shower head or stool to help when getting clean. If your loved one’s poor hygiene includes his or her teeth, look for electric toothbrushes and water flossers that wash away debris with minimal hand movements. 

Suggest Professional Assistance

A professional caregiver can provide personal hygiene services to get your loved one back to looking and feeling clean. Your loved one may prefer this option if he or she has been avoiding having to ask you or another family member for help. If your loved one’s poor hygiene is based on fear, simply having someone stand near the bathroom door may help him or her feel confident about stepping into the bathtub. 

If you’re the primary family caregiver for a senior loved one living in Frederick, elderly home care is available around the clock if your loved one’s health has become too difficult to manage without professional expertise. At Assisting Hands Home Care, we take measures to help seniors prevent illness and injury by assisting with exercise and mobility, preparing nutritious meals, helping with bathing and other personal hygiene tasks, and much more.

Provide a Reason to Bathe

Seniors sometimes give up on bathing because they figure it no longer matters. Offer to take your loved one out to a social event, or set up times during the week when he or she knows someone will visit. Your loved one may be more likely to get his or her hair washed and styled when he or she plans to be social. Once your loved one is cleaned up, make sure to offer a few compliments about his or her appearance to reinforce the benefits of making the effort to be clean. 

If your elderly loved one needs help maintaining a high quality of life while aging in place, reach out to Assisting Hands Home Care, a trusted provider of Frederick at-home care. Our caregivers provide transportation to and from medical appointments and social events, nutritious meal preparation, assistance with daily exercise, and help with everyday tasks like bathing, grooming, and light housekeeping. We’ll work with you to create a customized home care plan that’s suited for your loved one’s unique needs. Call the Assisting Hands Home Care team at (301) 786-5045 today.