Good personal hygiene is important. When providing assistance to an elderly parent or a senior, it has multiple benefits.

– Good hygiene assists with healthy skin and can help prevent infections
– Good hygiene, and clean clothes, makes an older adult feel better about themselves
– Personal grooming can provide an elder with a positive emotional sense of self
– A warm bath or shower can provide comfort and relaxation

Preliminary planning can ease the effort in assisting an elder into the bath or shower. They may not actually say it, but they can be very afraid of slips and falling. Also, aging parents can be stubborn about avoiding the cold and chill of the bathroom. Prep the room before getting started. Turn on the heat fan to warm up the room. And obviously, turn on the water to a warm and comfortable temperature which is “senior approved” before they step in. Seniors may like the water warmer than you do.

You may require a “shower chair” for an elderly parent. This is a chair with feet suctions which stick to the floor of the bathtub or shower, which enables seniors to sit while bathing. Remember, they may difficulty standing for any length of time. Grab bars can be a big help in actually getting in/out of the shower tub. If possible, insert a non-slip mat on the floor of the shower. Utilize gloves, washcloths, back brushes, and soft soaps for skin care. And have a clean, dry towel at the ready.

Take the time to set out a complete change of clothing prior to bathing. Seniors may require some assistance in taking clothes off, as well as putting on clean garments.

Older adults, generally, have sensitive and/or dry skin. So they may not need or desire bathing more than once or twice a week. This is something to remember…the elderly may not need daily bathing. No reason to fight this unless needed. Allow aging parents to help decide what kind of weekly routine works best for them.

Finally, encourage them to take care of themselves as much as possible. Provide a helping hand, or guidance, wherever needed.

– John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions. He can be reached at: (781) 378-2164; email: ; or online at: