Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Elder Hygiene: Avoiding a Stinky Situation

As people age, good hygiene is no longer a given.  When our health is good we get up in the morning, shower, shave, brush our teeth and put on makeup.  But many seniors can’t conquer these tasks easily.

Why are these simple daily routines transformed into the daily grind?
  • Balance and flexibility is no longer a given.  This makes it difficult for a senior to reach some areas of their body. 
  • Grip strength and reach diminishes.  This makes something as simple as turning on the faucet or holding a toothbrush a challenge.
  • Poor eyesight and lack of illumination make finding the faucets and grooming implements, such as a toothbrush or soap, an uphill battle.
  • A fear of falling, that’s completely justified, prevents seniors from getting into the bath or shower, which may have no grab bars or seat. 
Hygiene is not a nice to have. It’s a must have.  Why?
  • When you clean your skin, you slough off dead skin.  Dead skin that hangs around can cause irritations and rashes which can turn into infections. Also, cleaning washes away waste materials that can prevent normal skin function.
  • Age puts seniors at risk for a number of oral health problems such as gum disease, tooth decay and more so dental hygiene is critical.  Even seniors without teeth have to care for their dentures which come with their own problems such as fungal infections.
  • Shaving and putting on makeup and styling hair, help a senior preserve their self dignity
  • Last, but not least, who wants to be stinky?  A smelly senior is not going to be able to mix comfortably with others—and many studies have shown that socialization is critical for our long-term health.
So you’ve got to make hygiene as easy as possible.  If you’re in contact with seniors who need a little help with their hygiene, connect them with a Certified Aging in Place Specialist who can help them design a bathroom that makes it easier to stay clean, feel refreshed and avoid a stinky situation.

Bye for now… George Flowers
Have you had any challenges with elder hygiene? Tell us about how you handled them.
What products have you found to be useful in solving elder hygiene issues?


  1. We agree hygiene is a must have. good article with with tips on making hygien for the elderly easier.

  2. Another aspect of hygiene is clothing that fits properly and is easy to put on and take off. Some of the new technical fabrics are valuable, they either provide warmth without great bulk or they help to wick moisture away from the surface of the skin.
    Fashion Moves Inclusive Designs is working to raise the profile of quality clothing for people of all ages and activity levels.
    Ruth Clark

  3. I work with an old farmer who has completely lost interest in hygiene--if he ever was interested. He will only brush his teeth if I stay in the bathroom with him, and then only for 20 seconds. He also does not wash his hands after using the toilet--ever, or wash his face. I don't want to treat him like a little boy but I am aware of the importance of hygiene. He also has great trouble cleaning up after a b.m.. I have found mouthwash, wet wipes and hand sanitizer helpful.