A Moment with Maria

Maria Licoudis, R.N. & Care Manager at Home Care Assistance Montreal

Bathing and the Elderly - August 2015

When a person becomes ill or elderly, their requirement for hygiene increases. However, their ability to maintain and execute proper hygiene may decrease or cease. As caregivers, we have the opportunity to establish great hygiene care, which provides our client with cleanliness, comfort and dignity. Proper hygiene prevents infections, bedsores, and gives our clients psychosocial comfort.

Typical hygiene needs include the following:

  • Hand washing
  • Denture, mouth and oral care
  • Care of the eyes, ears and nose
  • Perineal care
  • Different types of bath care, nail and foot care
  • Hair care
  • Massage
  • Grooming
  • Skin relief

There are different types of bathing which include the shower, bathtub, bed bath and sponge bath. Bathing cleanses the skin and increases circulation and can be very relaxing Before starting any bathing, always provide safety and security to prevent falls and accidents. Determine the patients abilities to assist. Always explain what you will be doing to decrease their discomfort. Patients with urinary or fecal excretions require more frequent bathing, as well as perineal care and creams. Never apply soap to broken or open skins or sores. Use light massage and friction to stimulate circulation. Always provide warmth and privacy to maintain self respect.

Collect all your needed items such as towels, washcloths, soaps, clients' clothing, creams, deodorant before commencing bath. Prepare the shower, tub, or sponge bed area. Make sure bath mats are in the bathroom. Adjust and increase bath or room temperature to keep client warm. Allow the client to help as much as they are able to. Always verify water temperature prior to prevent burns. Instruct the patient to use grab bars to prevent falls, and increase stability. Showering should always include having them sit in the bathtub on a shower chair. Never leave the patient unattended.

A great way to end morning or evening care is with a massage to stimulate and relax muscles and soreness. It is a great way to provide physical and psychological comfort and relaxation, as well as stimulating circulation to promote activity.


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