Bathing is a common difficulty for elderly people, limited mobility and fear of falling can mean that they avoid bath time like the plague.
For caregivers, it can be concerning as to whether the elderly person they care for is bathing frequently enough.
So how often do elderly people need to bathe?
The good news is that whilst you or I might need to bathe or shower every day, elderly people do not need to.
A ‘wipe down’ with a warm wash cloth will be sufficient in keeping clean and minimising body odour in between of full baths.
Be sure that the elderly person uses the washcloth to wash armpits, groin genitals, feet and any skin folds to minimise the risk of odour or infection. It is also important to remind them to dry any areas that are cleaned too thoroughly.
Their skin is delicate and could be prone to getting sore if it is left wet regularly.
How often should elderly people bathe?
Bathing in a shower or bath tub is the easiest way to get an elderly person completely clean, with minimal fuss.
Bathing in a bath once or twice a week is sufficient to avoid skin breakdowns and infections.
Elderly people tend to have dry skin why doesn’t get as greasy or as dirty as a younger persons skin.
The same goes for their hair, many elderly people will be able to go much longer without washing their hair than us younger people. If washing their hair is a stressful and awkward job then they could always use dry shampoo to help prolong the time between washes.
10 Top tips for encouraging elderly people to bathe and stay clean.
- Invest in a bathing aid, such as a bath lift, or as a minimum, bath rails and handles, (these can be attach to the tiles via sucking cups.
- Make the room warm and cosy, they will be more inclined to want to get undressed to bathe if the room isn’t freezing cold.
- Baby wipes can be used, they are kind for sensitive skin and are easily used and disposed of. Wet wipes are good for elderly people to use after using the toilet, to minimise the number of times they need to bathe a week.
- If the elderly person needs to be bathed by their carer, dim the lighting a little to make them feel less exposed.
- Again if the person needs help with bathing, use a robe and only uncover the one area that you are washing at a time. This will help the elderly person to stay warm and not feel as embarrassed.
- Add an inexpensive bidet to the toilet, to help with keeping sensitive parts clean. They may have never used one before and may enjoy the novelty!
- Use dry shampoo to keep hair smelling fresh between washes.
- A warm flannel or towel wash will help to keep the elderly person clean each day and minimise the number of baths they need to take.
- If the elderly person suffers from dementia, you, as the carer may find it more useful to have them bathe everyday, a routine sometimes is less stressful than the occasional bath.
- Experiment with bath aids, there are some inexpensive ones that could improve the quality of bath time for elderly people, a bath seat or cushion for example may make sitting in the bath more comfortable and they may learn to love sitting, lying or relaxing in the bath. Older people have more frail skin and padding around bony areas so may find the hard bath surface uncomfortable.