A difficult and often embarrassing aspect of caring for an aging parent or other older family member is one that isn’t discussed much. That is helping them with personal care: toileting, bathing, showering, grooming and dressing. Each of these tasks can be emotionally and physically exhausting.
The family caregiver is often an adult daughter. To help a parent with bathing and dressing or using the toilet, she is often required to lift and transfer the senior. That can be difficult to do, especially when the senior loved one isn’t able to help at all.
And then there is the embarrassment issue to contend with. Aging parents are often distressed that an adult child has to give them a bath or assist with getting dressed. For the adult child, providing this kind of personal care to a parent can be heartbreaking and embarrassing.
Senior Bathing and Hygiene Tips for Family Caregivers
If you are a one of the many Indiana family caregivers who is caring for an aging parent, we have some tips that might help make the situation a little easier for everyone.
- Reasonable shower schedule: Most of us have grown up believing good hygiene requires us to take a daily shower. Sometimes even two if we’ve had a workout during the day. But for older adults who may live a more sedentary life, that schedule just isn’t necessary. In fact, it may cause fragile older skin to become drier. So it’s important to have more realistic expectations on how often your loved one should shower. It might only be a few times a week.
- Encourage participation: You’ve probably heard the saying that the more you do for someone, the more you take away. This is especially true for older adults with health conditions. Encourage your senior loved one to try to complete as much of their personal care as they feel they can safely handle with you standing by in case you are needed. While it might take them longer to complete each task, it will help them feel successful and independent. Consider adapting their grooming routine to make things easier. For example, an electric toothbrush might be easier for a senior to maneuver than a manual one. Ditto for an electric razor.
- Environment matters: Make sure you’ve created as safe an environment as possible in the bathroom. Grab bars allow your loved one to pull themselves around taking some of the strain off you. Skip the shower gels and oils that can leave the tub slippery creating a fall risk. Get rid of rugs that may skid around when you are trying to help your loved one in and out of the shower. It may also help both of you relax if you turn on soothing music during shower time. Peaceful sounds like birds singing or crickets chirping might help you both feel less stressed.
- Keep a conversation flowing: It may also help you if the two of you keep the conversation going. Talk about funny stories you saw on the morning talk shows or walk through your plans for the rest of the day. You can set the tone and help your loved one feel more comfortable if you can find ways to relax.
- Have clothing or a robe ready. Protect your loved one’s modesty by having a towel and their robe ready to put on as soon as they step out of the shower. Don’t make them stand there naked, cold and embarrassed while you fumble around. Be prepared before you even turn on the water.
Our final piece of advice is to give yourself and your loved one a break. You are in a tough situation that you probably never imagined you would find yourselves in. Try to maintain a sense of humor and a positive attitude. It is one of the best things you can do for your loved one!
When a Senior Needs More Help
There may come a time when you can no longer safely care for your senior loved one at home. If you feel that day is getting closer, we invite you to call the Five Star Senior Living community that is nearest to you.
One of our team members will be happy to sit down with your family and talk about the personal care services that are available in all 16 of our Indiana communities. Call us today to schedule a time!