It is not uncommon for senior loved ones to require assistance with daily living activities. Whether because of dementia, a debilitating injury, or just old age, many older adults need help with personal care activities such as eating, bathing, and grooming. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when assisting them:
First, be respectful and allow for maximum dignity. Afford them a reasonable sense of privacy without being distant, and be encouraging. Comments like, “You did a great job brushing your hair today,” can go a long way.
If your senior loved one requires assistance to eat, then make sure to introduce nutritious foods and plenty of fluids, especially water. More than other activities, eating is something that most senior loved ones can do semi-independently. Although cooking may be too challenging for your loved one, prepping finger-foods and providing plastic cups with straws can offer small, but important, self-care opportunities.
Bathing is an activity that requires close caregiver supervision, as bathtubs and showers can be slippery and dangerous. It is a good idea to remove any throw rugs and other such items to reduce the risk of falls. Adaptive bathing equipment can also be helpful, such as a shower chair, handrails, and a hand-held shower head. Make sure the bathroom is well-lit, and consider adjusting your water thermostat so that water cannot get hot enough to scald skin.
Keeping up with hair and dental care is a must. Washing a senior loved one’s hair in the sink can be easier and safer than full immersion in a bathtub. Dry shampoo also works well for those who may be bedridden. For senior loved ones who can still dress themselves, consider laying out loose-fitting, comfortable clothes for them to put on. Also, gently help them brush their teeth, or make sure their dentures are clean.
Above all, maintaining a daily routine is important. Encourage your senior loved one to eat, bathe, and groom at similar times every day. This can help your loved one maintain a sense of security despite his or her limitations.
Did this article raise more questions than answers for you? Do not wait to contact our office to ask us your questions and schedule a meeting to discuss your Elder Law needs.