Talking to a senior parent about hygiene can be a sensitive and delicate subject. It’s a conversation that many adult children put off because it’s awkward to discuss things like body odor with a senior parent.
But it’s very common for seniors to have trouble doing hygiene tasks as they get older. Seniors can have trouble bending to clean their bodies, they may lose their balance in the shower, or they may not be able to grip a toothbrush or hold a razer easily.
Personal care at home can help. Personal care at home is a great way to give a senior parent the extra support they need without any embarrassment. If it’s time to talk to your senior parent about personal care at home and their hygiene use these tips to make it easier:
Pick An Appropriate Time For This Kind Of Conversation
Find a comfortable and private setting where you can talk without distractions or interruptions. Avoid discussing the topic during mealtimes or when they may be feeling tired or irritable. For most seniors the best time to have a potentially awkward conversation is in the morning after they’ve eaten.
Be Compassionate And Respect Their Feelings
Approach the conversation with empathy and respect. Understand that discussing personal hygiene can be sensitive, so choose your words carefully to avoid sounding critical or judgmental.
Let Them Know You’re Concerned About Their Health
Start the conversation by expressing your concern for their well-being. Let them know that you care about their health and comfort and that the topic comes from a place of love and care.
Choose Your Words Carefully
Frame your concerns using “I” statements to avoid sounding accusatory. For example, say, “I’ve noticed that you seem to be having difficulty with bathing lately,” rather than, “You’re not bathing properly.”
Let Them Know You Understand Some Things Are Difficult For Them Now
Acknowledge that aging can present physical and mobility challenges, which can make certain tasks harder to accomplish. Let them know that you understand and are there to support them.
Talk About Personal Care At Home
Educate them about the importance of maintaining good hygiene for overall health and well-being. Explain how proper hygiene can prevent infections, skin irritations, and other health issues. Then talk to your senior parent about personal care at home. Offer to set up a trial of personal care at home to see if it helps them.
Listen To Them And Acknowledge Their Feelings
Give your parent time to express their feelings and concerns. Listen actively and attentively, without interrupting or being dismissive of their feelings. Imagine how you would feel in their situation. Have some empathy.
Respect Their Desire To Be Independent
While offering help is important, also respect their desire for independence and autonomy. Collaborate with them on finding solutions that work for their needs and preferences.
If your senior parent is experiencing memory or cognitive issues, gently remind them about personal hygiene tasks and create visual reminders, such as written notes or a daily routine chart.
Encourage Self-Care and Self-Compassion
Remind your parent that taking care of their hygiene is an essential aspect of self-care and self-respect. Encourage them to view these tasks as acts of self-compassion.