As one starts aging, their ability to perform basic tasks starts declining. These tasks include walking, eating or even keeping proper hygiene. After the threshold age of an elderly person arises, they require help of other people to complete these tasks.
If you have someone elderly in your family who needs help or you are helping some other elderly person in day to day tasks to ensure their hygiene, you should keep in mind a few things which will not only help them keep calm and not feel ashamed or embarrassed about someone else washing them but it will also keep you in your comfort zone. One big thing to remember is that as age progresses, people start getting paranoid if they can’t do something properly. So it is vital to clean them properly without injuring their self-respect.
Keeping Elders Clean
Elderly people should be assisted in keeping their personal hygiene good as it affects both physical and mental health drastically. At high age, a person is prone to infections and germs and staying hygienic is a good way to ensure that there are no infections on them. A steady procedure everyday helps them stay clean but also helps the elderly to pass their time in the day. A person who keeps themselves clean is more aware if any illness hits them. While assisting an elder person you should always remember to help as less as possible but do what is required. The less reliant the elderly person is on you, the better it is for both the individuals.
One should help the person to retain doing the tasks they can do so that they feel good about themselves. Don’t help and interfere in every task so that they don’t feel demotivated. This can lead to the deterioration of their mental health and can push them into a deeper pit of helplessness. Even if it takes time you should encourage them to perform some tasks such as eating or brushing on their own till they can.
Thinking and Acting
It is very essential to pay attention to the needs of the elderly person you are helping. To get a better hold of the situation, you can consult a nurse or a doctor. They can help you with proper valuation of what type and amount of help is required for the person and how you should deliver it so that it is harmless and comforting. Before doing anything, try to find out the precise nature of the problem or the problems the elderly is facing.
Sometimes a very big factor of not performing a certain task such as bathing is fear and you should tackle that safely and appropriately. For example if they are afraid that they might fall in the bathroom, you can have handles installed so that they can grab on to them. Another example is that if they are hydrophobic or are scared that they might submerge in falling water a good idea might be to provide them with a hand-held water hose so they feel they have control which might take away their fear.
People get bed ridden as time progresses and ensuring that they are cleaned regularly is important. For this problem, the solution is bed baths. But even for bed ridden elders, apply the same attitude and motivate them to do as much as they can on their own. Bed baths are not necessary everyday but cleaning the underarms and private areas should be done day to day. If you want to be fully equipped for bed baths here are a few things to keep in your mind:
- Collect all the items that might be needed for the bed bath beforehand such as towels, soap, a blanket, water bowls and toiletries.
- Place the blanket on the person and place another one on the floor.
- Before starting out the bath wash your hands thoroughly.
- Keep in mind that the elderly start feeling cold at higher temperatures than normal people. So adjust the temperature so that it is not too hot or too cold for the person. Also keep the room warm.
- Using a cotton covering or blanket over the person keeps them from feeling shameful while maintaining their body temperature.
Wash the areas one by one and do not move onto the next area before completely drying off the previous one. Not doing this can decrease the body temperature of the person making them feel cold. Applying a cream to prevent the skin from going dry is a good idea too.
While washing, start from the top to the bottom, so start from the face, then move on to the chest and the sides and then the lower body. Then slowly and carefully turn the person if there is a need or you move yourself to the back and then you can wash the back and the bottom
After washing and drying off the body, you can start washing the private areas of the elderly with a fresh bowl of water. This area shouldn’t be neglected as cleanliness is most important in this area. Using feminine wash or wipes for cleaning the private areas of women is a good idea and the wipes can also be used for cleaning the armpits. Do not show or hint your discomfort or embarrassment as this can cause the elderly to be more embarrassed and it will not help anyone. Be assuring and this will become a routine in no time. Once the bath has been completed you should clip off the fingernails of both feet and hands regularly as they tend to be soft after a shower.
For urination purposes, employ a reusable urination device which is available for both men and women in which they can empty their bladder while lying down. At first the positioning of the device might be tricky and first 2-3 times might create a mess but as time goes by you will get to know how to point the device correctly so the excreted liquid goes directly into the bowl and don’t create a muddle.
Oral Hygiene for bed bound
Maintaining a good oral hygiene is important for the elderly on bed as it is a big factor in the overall health of a person. If the elderly can brush themselves then you should motivate them to do so everyday but if they can’t and you are trying to help, follow these simple steps:
- Try to make them sit up, but if they can’t turn them on their side and tuck a clean towel under the chin.
- Use a soft brush and good quality toothpaste. Brush softly so that the gums don’t get damaged.
- Keep a bowl and water with you so that they can rinse and spit.
- If the elderly have no teeth then just make them rinse and spit some clean water to remove the germs in the mouth.
Washing the Hair
Washing the hair of bed ridden elderly is not an easy task. Using a bed basin which is specially designed for bed ridden people is a good idea. It will be the best solution to washing the hair with as little clutter and distress but it is important to ensure that you have all things you need beforehand.
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