The Importance of Personal Hygiene and Good Grooming for Seniors

Hygiene is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for seniors. Good grooming can help maintain a positive outlook on life, and hygiene is necessary to prevent infections for this at risk population. 

Here’s a detailed overview of why hygiene and grooming are so essential for seniors. 

Reduced Infections 

I think we’ve all heard seen public health postings in public washrooms saying how handwashing is essential for infection control. Having good hygiene is important in order to reduce the amount of infections we get, and the infections that we transfer to other people. If you, or someone you love is a senior who has contact with other older adults, hygiene is necessary to protect everyone. 

Seniors are especially at risk for developing infections and can contract the flu and pneumonia more readily than other demographics. In order to maintain good health, seniors should practice good hygiene and if needed acquire the assistance of family members or other health professionals. Alternatively, they can acquire items that can help make the process of proper grooming more attainable. For example, the cutting of nails is an important part of proper grooming.

Most seniors find this difficult to do due to arthritis and difficulty in bending over, especially if it’s the toenails that need trimming. However, if they used electric clippers, they would be able to accomplish this task with ease. Giving them control over a menial task that they may have taken for granted during their younger years. 

Dignity 

It’s difficult to maintain a high sense of dignity if your hygiene is falling below a standard, and this holds true for seniors as well. If a senior is having difficulty maintaining their own hygiene, family members should step in to help. It might be an uncomfortable conversation to have, but it’s a necessary one and in the end you’re assisting this person to be more autonomous.

Regardless of a person’s stage of development they deserve to exert some control over their lives, and hygiene should certainly be included. Good grooming and hygiene help assist in the quality of life for older adults. 

Elated Mood 

If we look good we feel good. Seniors who are able to perform hygienic functions are more likely to experience joy, and less likely to feel emotions like depression, anxiety, or hopelessness. When a senior’s hair, nails and skin integrity are intact, they are less likely to be seen as vulnerable by others.

This is important because seniors are at risk of discrimination based on myths associated with ageism beliefs. Seniors who are concerned about their smell, or the appearance of their hair, are going to be worried about this, just like anyone else.   

Skin Integrity 

Some seniors may fall into the category of persons who experience incontinence, or who are unable to bathe themselves. If an elderly person is unable to properly clean themselves after bathing they may impair their skin integrity, and they may be self conscious about their smell.

This can affect their self-esteem but it can lead to excoriated skin because of itchiness as bacteria builds up on the cutaneous membrane. In order to keep their skin healthy regularly bathing should take place, and when rashes occur a dermatologist’s recommendation can be sought out.    

Oral Health 

Seniors often are at risk for developing oral health problems because of some common myths. Many people don’t believe mouth care is necessary if they have dentures and this is not true. An oral mouthwash solution and a light brushing of the gums helps avoid diseases that can impact a senior’s mouth. Regularly washing dentures will also prevent bacteria build up on these which can transfer into the oral cavity. This helps avoid conditions like halitosis, which cause bad breath.

Seniors who are unable to care for their own oral hygiene should enlist the help of family members. Family members should place pressure on health workers in care homes to ensure that this is something that is completed twice a day. Studies have shown that oral hygiene is often overlooked in long-term care facilities.

Personal hygiene and grooming can actually help prevent illnesses that might strike an otherwise vulnerable population. By staying clean seniors can also help protect other older adults within their communities. These practices also uphold a certain dignity that seniors are entitled to, and it can prevent mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

Seniors skin integrity is dependent on cleanliness and open wounds in skin can lead to infection that need antibiotics to be treated. Seniors who are unable to perform certain actions on their own should attempt to get assistance from family members or health professionals, and perhaps look into tools to help them accomplish these tasks. The elderly’s health is very dependent on personal hygiene and grooming, and that’s why it’s so important to them.