When someone is confined to bed due to their health conditions, it’s important to keep up their personal hygiene. Feeling fresh and clean is necessary for both physical and mental health. Transfer Master shares 6 tips for healthy personal hygiene when caring for someone who is bed bound.
Whether it’s caused by chronic illness, advanced age, disability, or injury, being bedridden comes with a variety of challenges – hygiene being one of the most important.
As a caregiver, assisting a bed bound older adult with their personal hygiene helps them be as happy and healthy as possible.
Here are 6 tips for healthy personal hygiene when caring for someone who is bed bound.
1. Bathe regularly
If a patient is unable to bathe themselves, you’ll want to give them regular bed baths.
To give someone a bed bath, first gather these items:
- Bath towels, facecloths, and hand towels
- Soft sponges
- A bucket of warm water
- Gentle, non-irritating soap
- A washbasin
- Cotton buds or a nail brush
- Body powder (optional)
Next, start the bathing process:
- Place bath towels underneath your older adult to keep the bed dry.
- Use a moist hand towel or sponge to gently wash the eyes and face. Avoid using soap on the face because it could be irritating.
- Roll down the sheet or blanket to expose their upper body. In general, try to expose only the part of the body that you’re actively cleaning. Keep the rest of the body covered for warmth and modesty.
- Use another (clean) moist towel or sponge to clean the body. You may want to use a gentle cleansing soap for the body, but be aware that for certain people soap can cause skin irritation.
- Clean their upper body, arms, and legs.
- Clean under and around their fingernails with a cotton bud or nail brush.
- Help them roll or turn as needed so you can thoroughly clean the patient’s back, genitals, and buttocks area with a towel or sponge. Be sure to clean within any folds and then dry those areas thoroughly.
- Dip the patient’s feet in a washbasin and clean feet with a towel or sponge.
- Use moisturizer and body powder to keep their skin hydrated and dry, then change them into a clean set of clothes.
Dry skin, especially if someone is prone to eczema, can cause infection.
So, it’s important to use a gentle, fragrance-free moisturizer to keep skin hydrated and to soothe dry or itchy patches, especially after bathing.
2. Keep hair clean
In addition to bathing, it’s a good practice to regularly wash their hair.
In between washes, use a dry shampoo as needed to keep hair from getting greasy and uncomfortable. And try to do a thorough wash at least once a week, or more often if their hair gets especially grimy.
How to wash hair in bed:
- Place towels under the head and shoulders.
- Comb through hair to remove tangles and drape another towel over their shoulders. If available, you could also use a hair stylist’s cape or something similar.
- If your older adult has a lot of hair, it can be easier to clip their hair into sections. Then, use a spray bottle to wet the hair with warm water and a small amount of shampoo. Work it in from the scalp upwards to the ends of the hair. Then, rinse the hair with a separate spray bottle of water.
- When all the hair is clean, wrap their head in a dry towel. Then, use a hairdryer to gently dry their hair.
For more tips, watch this step-by-step video tutorial for washing someone’s hair in bed.
3. Trim nails
Long or jagged nails can present a multitude of health risks, especially in older people.
Dirt and bacteria get trapped under the nails and transfer to the skin when the patient touches or scratches themselves, potentially resulting in infection.
Regularly use a pair of nail clippers and nail file to keep nails trimmed and filed into a smooth, rounded shape.
4. Change bedding
People who aren’t bedridden can usually get away with changing their bedding every week.
But when someone is bedridden, their bedding will likely need to be changed more often.
You might be surprised at how quickly bed linens can accumulate sweat, dead skin cells, hair, and crumbs from food.
5. Brush teeth after meals
To keep teeth and gums healthy, help your older adult clean their mouth after each meal.
If possible, floss and rinse twice a day to ensure you’re getting rid of any trapped food particles.
Some people may be able to handle these tasks on their own if you bring them a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, water, and spit bucket.
6. Clean the room
A messy environment can also be a hygiene risk.
Excessive dust can cause breathing difficulties, sneezing, itching, and throat discomfort. And unfinished food can attract household pests.
Lastly, clutter can have a negative impact on someone’s mental and emotional well-being.
Keep their room comfortable and organized and remove clutter from the floor.
Do your best to get plenty of natural light into the room and regularly open the windows when possible to keep the air fresh.
By keeping your older adult and their room fresh and clean, you’re doing a lot more than safeguarding their physical health. You’re also taking an important step in helping them feel good, too.
Recommended for you:
- 9 Enjoyable Activities for Seniors with Limited Mobility
- How to Wash Hair for Someone Who Is Bedridden
- How to Help Someone with Alzheimer’s Brush Their Teeth
Guest contributor: Aaron Goldsmith is the owner of Transfer Master. Transfer Master has built electric adjustable hospital beds for the home and medical facility since 1993. He started with a simple goal that hospital beds should allow wheelchair users to transfer independently in and out of bed. 25 years later, their customers are still at the center of everything they do.
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