Bathing regularly is important for maintaining physical and emotional health.
A decline in personal hygiene may signal someone is struggling to care for themselves. The causes can be many—chronic pain from arthritis, injury, tenderness from surgery, loss of coordination and weakness. Lack of personal grooming also can signal depression and problems associated with dementia.
Whatever the cause, not bathing, at least three or four times a week, can erode self-esteem. It also can aggravate skin and scalp conditions such as eczema and psoriasis and lead to serious infections.
For those who struggle with mobility, the bathroom can be a dangerous place. The consequences of falling on a hard tile surface or against a sink, tub or toilet can be serious.
Here are some tips to make bathing safer and easier:
- Use a shower bench or install grab bars in your shower. Some shower benches have arms to help you balance. Try first sitting on the bench, then swing your legs into the tub or shower.
- Keep bath supplies—clean towel, washcloth, soap, shampoo—near the tub or shower. Assemble these before turning on the water. Place fresh clothing or a robe nearby or on a door hook.
- Use a hand-held shower nozzle and back scrubber.
- Make sure the water is the proper temperature before washing.
- If you feel unsteady, arrange for a relative, trusted friend or private homecare provider to assist. Ask them to remain nearby.
- It’s understandable to feel anxious about requesting help in the bathroom. It can ease your mind to first discuss with your spouse, relative or friend how they feel about taking on this task. If you use a private homecare provider, first verify that homecare workers have background checks, are bonded, and have been trained according to the state regulating organization.
- If a loved one assists you only on weekends, consider arranging for a homecare provider in the middle of the week
Life Care at Home services can be secured for as little as four hours, one day per week. In that time, you can arrange for assistance with additional household tasks such as laundry, vacuuming, trash removal, dish washing or simple meal preparation.
Kathy Semrow R.N, director of Life Care at Home, a not-for-profit provider of private in-home personal care, shares her 42 years of nursing experience.