As a caregiver, you will find that some of your time each day will be devoted to assisting the person in your care with personal hygiene. This includes bathing, shampooing, oral or mouth care, shaving, and foot care. Following are tips to help these tasks go smoothly.
When it comes to personal hygiene, ensure the floors are not slippery; to help prevent falls on the bathroom floor, use non-skid mats or rugs and a rubber mat with good suction or adhesive traction strips in the shower basin or bathtub. A movable shower head with a hose is especially helpful for patients who need help rinsing themselves.
Before bringing the patient to the bathroom, gather all supplies, towels, and clean clothes.
Make sure the room is a comfortable temperature; if it’s too warm for you, it’s probably about right for the patient.
Assume modesty is of concern and cover the patient’s private areas.
Provide a shower stool, and pad it with towels for comfort.
For showers, test and adjust the water temperature before the person gets in. Use gentle water pressure, as some patients are especially sensitive and even moderate pressure can be painful.
For baths, some patients prefer to get into the tub before filling it with water. However, regulate the water temperature first. When finished, drain the tub before helping the patient exit.
Assist in washing as needed, being sure to communicate what you need to do before actually touching the patient.
When rinsing, move the water hose around the person rather than asking the person to move.
Guide the person out of the shower or tub and wrap with a towel. A patient who is unsteady will benefit from sitting on a stool while you assist with drying and dressing.
Never use an electric razor if the person is receiving oxygen because of the risk of fire if the electric razor sparks.
When providing nail care, watch for signs of irritation or infection. This is especially important for a person with diabetes, for whom a small infection can develop into something more serious. If other household members are using the same nail-grooming supplies, clean the shared items with alcohol.
Assemble supplies—soap, basin with water, towel, nailbrush, scissors, nail clippers, file, and lotion.
Wash your hands.
Wash the hands and feet of the person in your care with soap and water and soak them in a basin of warm water for five minutes.
Gently scrub the nails with the brush to remove trapped dirt.
Dry the nails and gently push back the skin around the nails (the cuticle) with the towel.
To prevent ingrown nails, cut nails straight across.
File nails gently to smooth the edges.
Gently massage hands and feet with lotion.
Family Caregiver Education Series
Hope’s Family Caregiver Education Series is available to any member of the community who is currently engaging as a caregiver to a loved one living with a terminal diagnosis or a disabling chronic condition, regardless of whether your loved one is a Hope Hospice patient. The free 12-class series covers a variety of topics and provides training, education, support, and resources relevant to family caregivers. Plus, much like a support group, these classes provide an opportunity to connect with others who have shared experiences.