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Six Quick Personal-Care Tips

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Personal care can be difficult for caregivers to administer. Such tasks can also cause seniors to feel embarrassment and that their dignity is slipping away. The good news is that there are ways to make personal-care tasks easier and less awkward for everyone involved: Personal_Care.png
  1. Think differently. It might help to think of the tasks in medical or scientific terms to help take the emotional heat out of it. Instead of changing a senior's diaper, think of it as changing a senior's incontinence briefs to keep him or her clean and healthy.
  2. Maximize their abilities. If the senior can handle part of the task, see if he or she is capable of doing the things that are most difficult for both parties, like washing private parts.
  3. Distraction is your friend. In an old episode of MASH, Hot Lips Houlihan, the gorgeous nurse, has to give a sponge bath to a bashful young soldier. She explains that the way to get it done quickly, efficiently and with little embarrassment is to carry on a normal conversation and look the patient in the eye. Other distractions, like reminiscing or singing favorite songs, can also help.
  4. Make it as much fun as possible. Bubbles, spa-like soaps and music can turn a dreaded routine into something the senior can look forward to. Suggest starting with a good back scrub to ease into the bathing process.
  5. Take the easy route. Use bathing wipes between full baths and dry shampoo between wet washes. Try wet wipes when toileting for better (and faster) cleaning.
  6. A time for everything. Create a regular routine for the senior’s hygiene tasks, especially if the senior has dementia. Make regular bathing something that happens before church, for example, and always brush teeth before breakfast. Encourage family caregivers to help senior loved ones with personal-care tasks when they are most alert. Avoid personal care tasks during difficult times, like evenings for those Alzheimer’s patients who experience sundowning.


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