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How to talk to your elderly parents about personal hygiene

HealthBauer XcelCare
How to talk to your elderly parents about personal hygiene

It can feel like an awkward topic, but making sure your elderly relatives are able to stay clean and healthy as they age is an important issue. A study by hygiene experts SCA found that almost half of older people hadn't been able to talk to anyone about their changing hygiene needs, so it may well be that your parents will be relieved if you bring up the subject.

SCA has teamed up with television GP Dr Hilary Jones to give you advice on how to approach matters relating to hygiene with your nearest and dearest. 

How to bring up hygiene issues with your mum or dad

Talking to someone about their personal hygiene can be an embarrassing subject to broach for all involved. Firstly, pick your moment, approach your loved one in a private place where you both feel comfortable and at a time when there are no obvious tensions. Open your conversation by making it clear you want to offer assistance rather than take control, avoid typically patronising tones and phrases and always remember their dignity should be a priority. 

How to spot the signs that an elderly relative is struggling

If an elderly person’s hygiene is starting to slip, it could be a sign they are experiencing feelings of stress or worry when it comes to carrying out their normal routine. The research shows that 38 per cent of seniors are concerned about showering and bathing difficulties as they grow older. As a result, this could mean they might be neglecting their personal hygiene. Some of the signs to look out for are: 

  • Decreased strength means they cannot press down on sprays
  • Unsteady balance keeps them out of the bath or shower 
  • Failing sight means they doesn’t see their appearance clearly 
  • Their mobility is reduced which means they may not be able to purchase hygiene products 

Buying hygiene products for ageing parents

Once you’ve determined why an older person isn’t keeping up with their hygiene routine, you can begin to understand which products they need to get them back on track. In preparation for helping ensure they have the correct supplies, make sure to understand and agree specific items which can be of use to them. 

Be prepared for some embarrassment when it comes to discussing any needs for bladder weakness products, as the research reveals that 37 per cent of seniors experience high levels of discomfort when shopping for these types of product. For more information on incontinence and bladder weakness, visit AgeUK.

To dissuade this, sensitively and discreetly offer to help with bladder weakness supplies in the same way you would with items such as toothpaste, antiperspirant, toilet tissue, soaps etc. 

Be patient

Most importantly, remember, talking about personal hygiene is a delicate situation. Take the time to listen and understand what their hygiene routines are, so you can determine the right course of action for them. It might be easier to arrange their personal care supplies in a calendar so that you and your loved one can both feel confident about their personal hygiene in the future. 

Find more information on caring for ageing parents

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