skip to Main Content
How To Approach Your Elderly Parent About Personal Hygiene

How to Approach Your Elderly Parent About Personal Hygiene

Elderly adults may confront many challenges throughout retirement. Health and mental challenges can take a toll and make everyday activities more difficult. It is not uncommon for elderly adults to let their personal hygiene slide when they are confronting a difficult time in their life. 

If your parent has started to neglect their personal hygiene, you might find yourself facing a hard conversation. This article will discuss a few tips on how to approach an elderly person about personal hygiene.

Lean on Their Doctor

Doctors can be a great resource when it comes to convincing older adults to change their behavior. A doctor is also a strong authoritative figure that many older adults are more willing to listen to. Work with your parent’s doctor to explain the situation and discuss ways in which the doctor can help with a conversation about personal hygiene.

Your parent’s doctor can talk to them about why hygiene is important for overall health. Poor hygiene can lead to unpleasant and even dangerous health outcomes like infections and lice. A conversation with a doctor can make a big difference and convince your parent that they should make hygiene a priority.

Make Bathing More Comfortable

Some seniors neglect their personal hygiene because bathing has become an uncomfortable experience. Help your parent by making bathing more comfortable. You can do this by purchasing tools such as shower benches or re-fitting their bathroom to make it more accessible. 

You can also invest in features such as heated floors or a steamer to make the bathroom more comfortable. A few simple changes can make all the difference and change personal grooming from a dreaded experience into a pleasant one.

If your parent is experiencing health changes, you can also seek help from an occupational therapist who can teach your parent new ways of moving around and using tools to practice personal hygiene.

Work to Identify the Underlying Cause

Usually, there is an underlying cause that is contributing to an older adult’s lack of personal hygiene. A change in mental or physical health often leads to changes in behavior. In some cases, an older adult’s personal hygiene will not improve until the underlying reason is addressed.

Some common reasons for a sudden change in hygiene include:

  • Depression
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Exhaustion
  • Pain
  • Lack of motivation

If you can identify the underlying cause and solve it, you may be able to fix the problem. Usually, identifying the reason behind the behavior change and fixing it is more effective than simply trying to convince your parent to improve their hygiene. 

Be Understanding and Patient

When talking to your parent about their personal hygiene, the last thing you should do is approach the situation in a hostile or accusatory way. Understand that your parent is probably in an uncomfortable situation and that they are likely managing an internal struggle. 

Approach the conversation delicately, and understand that this is a problem that may not be solved after a single interaction. Practice patience and understand that you may need to engage in some trial and error before the situation is resolved. 

When you approach the situation with understanding and patience, you are far more likely to solve the problem while still maintaining a positive relationship with your parent.

Take Your Time Learning How to Approach an Elderly Person About Personal Hygiene

There is no magic formula when it comes to how to approach an elderly person about personal hygiene. The most important thing is to handle the situation carefully and thoughtfully. Take your time to think through how to have the conversation. You and your parent can work together to find a solution to the problem.

If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation.  Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.

Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia CareBed & Wheelchair Transfer AssistanceCompanionshipHousekeeping & Meal PreparationPersonal CareRecovery Care, and Transportation.

Serving the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater San Diego, Family Matter In-Home Care has offices throughout California including: Campbell, CARoseville, CASan Marcos, CA, and San Mateo, CA.

Carol Pardue-Spears

Carol has worked in the healthcare field for more than forty years. As a Certified Nursing Assistant, she worked for El Camino Hospital in the cardiac unit, Los Gatos Community Hospital, The Women’s Cancer Center in Los Gatos and several home health and hospice agencies. Carol founded Family Matters in 2002 to fill a deficit she witnessed in high-quality, in-home services and care.

Back To Top