Good personal hygiene is one of best ways to keep an older adult healthy.

If you expect to assist elderly parents in various aspects of personal hygiene, start with preparation. Have gloves at the ready, and wash your hands before and after any activity. Discuss with the senior the task at hand, and explain each step of the process. Encourage seniors to help themselves as much as possible.

– A relatively quick sponge bath can substitute for a full bath or shower. Maybe you have moved the bedroom downstairs, and negotiating the stairs for a full shower is not going to happen often. So you need to set-up with a washbowl, and juggle an elderly parent standing or sitting nearby. Be certain to have all necessary supplies, including gloves, washbasin, soap, drop cloth for floor, washcloths, face towel, bath towels, and clean, dry clothing.

– Shaving can be accomplished in a relatively simple fashion. An electric shaver will work wonders. Otherwise, be prepared with towels, razor and shaving cream, and a wash basin.

– Like bathing or showering, washing hair on a daily basis is not necessary, but should be accomplished with some weekly regularity. Simply combing or brushing hair will assist in maintaining vitality. Probably best to use a mild shampoo.

– Brushing teeth is a habit which seems to get disregarded by many seniors. Encouraging good oral hygiene is important for older adults. When assisting with brushing teeth, utilize a soft toothbrush. And bring along toothpaste, a rinse glass of water, a small basin or bowl, and a face towel. A dentist will need to regularly check-up on dentures to ensure and confirm proper fit, and to assess staining and any gum irritation.

Elderly parents may take a bit longer to accomplish cleaning, but enabling them to independently complete such functions (if possible) is important. Aiding an elder with personal hygiene is key to their health and self confidence.

– 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: