Top tips in Bathroom Safety

Your personal care or personal hygiene – its not just bathing.

Personal hygiene is all about cleaning and caring for your body. Maintaining good personal hygiene includes bathing, washing your hands, brushing your teeth and wearing clean clothing.

Keeping your body properly cleansed around the clock includes

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day
  • washing your hands at appropriate times
  • caring for your appearance
  • getting an adequate amount of sleep to be able to do all these tasks and feel good in yourself

Taking a daily bath or shower using a mild soap and warm water helps wash away dirt and bacteria that may lead to body odour. Numerous medical conditions and diseases can be avoided or managed by simply keeping your body clean.

Washing your hands throughout the day with soap and water can help ward off the spread of bacteria and viruses. Always clean your hands before preparing food and eating meals and after using the bathroom, coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

Washing your feet at least once day is also important to good personal hygiene. Dry your feet thoroughly, especially in the bacteria-prone area between your toes. Diabetes can reduce the blood supply to your feet and cause a loss of feeling, known as peripheral neuropathy. This can mean foot injuries don’t heal well and you may not notice if your foot is sore or injured.

Good hygiene, or personal cleanliness, not only helps maintain a healthy self-image, but is important in preventing the spread of infections and disease.

Poor personal hygiene is not an age-specific matter. While children may be less likely to practice good personal hygiene without adult supervision, there are many reasons why personal hygiene may deteriorate suddenly or gradually over time.

In the elderly, it may be due to various mental, psychological and even physical ailments.

  • Depression: more common among the elderly than younger adults, poor personal hygiene may be one of the symptoms. Mental and psychological issues can affect both a person’s ability and motivation to perform basic hygiene. Grief, loneliness, fear of illness or deteriorating health. When you’re dealing with depression or some other mental disorder, performing daily hygiene activities can be a battle.

“it’s not that I don’t want to shower… it’s just, I don’t have the energy or motivation to do it. And I struggle with chronic foot pain, so that makes it even harder to stand in a shower stall barefoot”

  • Dementia as a result of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease or a stroke, losing the ability or willingness to perform self-care tasks necessary for good hygiene.
  • Physical impairment which makes daily hygiene routines such as bathing may be a consequence of arthritis and other joint diseases, paralysis, nerve and muscle diseases hard to do, as well as age-related changes in the muscle strength, joint flexibility and coordination.
  • Medication may render a loved one incapable, either physically or mentally. In many cases, people understand the importance of good hygiene and wish to practice it, but are prevented from doing so by physical factors that make them unable to accomplish the mechanics of bathing. Medication making feel drowsy, uncoordinated, weak or feeling unwell to carry out daily tasks to maintain personal hygiene and appearance.
  • Healthcare experts also note temporary physical limitations on performing self-care — such as post-operative incisions or plaster casts — may follow an illness, injury or hospital stay.

Areas Prone to Odour and Fungal Infection

Unpleasant smells and fungal infections are most commonly experienced in areas of the body that are warm and not often exposed to fresh air: the feet; the genitals and some of our sweat glands.

Smelly Feet – The feet contain lots of sweat glands. If our feet are confined in socks and shoes the sweat has nowhere to ‘evaporate’ and the skin bacteria will in effect attack causing that pungent ‘cheesy’ aroma. There are a variety of reasons why some people suffer more than others.

Most of us take our feet for granted, until pain or problems such as blisters or calluses develop. But it’s important to be kind to your feet and take care of them—before problems arise—and to treat problems before they restrict us doing what we want to do.

7 Top tips for healthy feet

  • Trim toenails straight across and not too short. Don’t cut or dig at corners.
  • Inspect feet Look for cuts, bruises, blisters, red spots. Feel for lumps or bumps
  • Wash regularly and dry thoroughly with a soft towel and an anti-bacterial foot powder or a baby talc
  • Allow feet to air when feasible and wear open shoes as much as possible
  • Change socks more than once a day if needed
  • Wear socks made from cotton or other breathable fabric
  • Don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day (if possible, rotate between at least two pairs) and never depend on shoes to “fit better after they’re worn for a while.”

Personal care activities, including washing and bathing, are a common source of anxiety for people with dementia and can also be difficult for carers.

Needing assistance from another person with something so personal can raises many issues not least respecting the person’s privacy. Other reasons why a person with dementia may feel anxious about washing and bathing include:

  • deep bath water – reassure them by making sure the bath water is shallow, or by setting up a bath seat for them to use
  • overhead showers – some people find the rush of water from an overhead shower frightening or disorientating. A hand-held shower may work better
  • self-consciousness – it can be embarrassing to be undressed in front of other people. One way to overcome this is to uncover only the part of their body that you are washing at the time, leaving the rest covered
  • isolation – some people may become anxious if they are left on their own and may want you to stay with them while they are washing
  • incontinence – this may be a sensitive issue for both of you. If the person has an accident or continence problems, they may feel ashamed. Try to be reassuring and adopt an approach that fits with the nature of your relationship with them. A matter-of-fact approach, or gentle humour, often works well.
  • inability to plan – to plan or to remember and inability to perform tasks in sequence. Establish a routine together.

Personal hygiene routines are something most of us take for granted. You get up, wash, brush your teeth, comb your hair, etc. These routines are something that elderly people can find very difficult.

Imagine the effect it would have on you if you could not perform your usual hygiene routine. You would start every day feeling dirty and unprepared. In elderly people, this can lead to agitation, frustration and depression.

Elderly hygiene issues are a cause for concern. Though it can be hard for you to provide and even harder for those you care for to accept, hygiene help is an invaluable part of caregiving.

Don’t be discouraged: It’s possible for you to help your loved one stay clean and healthy while also allowing them to maintain their dignity and as much independence as possible.

How to help your loved one and you, as a carer

Talk about it

This will likely be a hard discussion for both of you, but it’s too important to avoid. Let them know you’re coming from a place of love: You want to help them look and feel their best and keep them safe from health problems like skin or urinary tract infections. Don’t be unkind or focus on what they can’t do. Focus on what they need and what you can do to help them with that.

Create a routine

A personal hygiene routine doesn’t just keep your loved one clean and comfortable – it gives their days more structure, its comforting too.

If there’s a certain time of day or situation in which they’re in their best mood or most clear-minded, plan to help them with washing and grooming then, if possible.

Being organised can help reduce stress. Try to make sure you have everything you need ready to hand before you start.

Family members may also be able to help by leaving out soap and towels to provide a visual cue, reminding the person to wash or perform oral hygiene, or posting a bathing schedule

Don’t insist on more bathing than is necessary

If your loved one is not very mobile, they may not need to take a shower every day. Showering a few times a week, with sponge baths or hygiene wipes in between, may be enough.

Excessive bathing or showering can lead to dry skin, and it can also wash away the natural bacteria and oils that protect the skin against infections.

If skipping a shower doesn’t feel right, there are other ways to cleanse the body without exposing skin to the harshness of frequent bathing.

  • Instead of using hot water, using luke-warm water. This helps the skin preserve some of its natural oils.
  • Limit use of soaps with fragrances and heavy foaming ingredients as these can irritate the skin and make it more prone to infection.
  • Try to make the experience as pleasant and relaxed as possible. Also make sure that the room is warm enough. People with dementia seem to really feel the cold.

Maintaining overall cleanliness and good personal hygiene is important for maintaining a sense of self-confidence.

Consider adaptive hygiene aids

There are many devices that are designed to solve elderly hygiene issues by making it easier for a person to take care of their grooming. Shower chairs, no-rinse bathing wipes and long-handled shower brushes, razors and toenail clippers can all make taking care of personal hygiene safer and easier.

Encourage (a safe level of) independence

Even small things like combing their own hair or putting on their own deodorant can help our elderly loved ones maintain a sense of control over their lives. Tasks like brushing and flossing their teeth may be easier to keep doing independently than other types of grooming. Even managing the smallest task is better than nothing at all

Be understanding

Everyone has good days and bad days, including your loved one. It’s OK to skip a shower occasionally. Give them a sponge bath and some dry shampoo and try doing the real thing again when they’re in a better state of mind.

Reassure them that, despite it being a very personal activity, you are happy to help. Ask how they feel and what they would prefer.

Making light of any muddles or awkwardness may help you both deal better with the situation.

Bathroom safety

Bathrooms are dangerous because they’re small spaces with lots of hard surfaces and corners. On top of that, sitting down and standing up can cause dizziness or unsteady balance because of changes in blood pressure. That could easily lead to a devastating fall.

Over 80% of all falls in the home, happen in the bathroom. Other risks include potential to be scalded if water is too hot; get locked in; carer strain on their back; fear of falling.

Did you know that people use the toilet 7 times a day on average? That’s why bathroom safety is so important – we’re in there all the time!

Ensuring safe bathing: tips for carers

  • Make sure the bathroom is clutter free and well lit, day and night
  • Check that the floor is not slippery. Remove loose mats, rugs as they can be a trip hazard.
  • Make sure that the room is warm before the person undresses. Older people are more sensitive to heat and cold than younger people.
  • Ensure you will not be disturbed or distracted and will not have to leave your loved one alone.
  • Check that the water temperature is not too hot or too cold. A heat sensor that sticks to the side of the bath changes colour if the bath water is too hot, which can prevent scalding.
  • Consider removing locks from the bathroom door, or replace them with locks that can be opened from the outside. Someone with dementia may lock themselves in and panic, or they may go into the bathroom and then forget why they went in.
  • Don’t leave cleaning products out. Your loved one might not be able to recognise them and may not understand the dangers they present.
  • Don’t forget your own safety. Because family caregivers don’t get formal training in safe lifting and transfer techniques, it’s too easy to hurt yourself when you’re helping out.
  • If you are having to help transfer in and out of the bath, make sure you don’t strain your back.
  • Hold on to the person you are helping by the trunk or hips. Do not pull with the arms or legs. It is easy for you both to become unbalanced.
  • Always bend at the waist.

If you are in any way concerned, talk to a health care professional (an occupational therapist, doctor or nurse) about a home assessment or home adaptive aids that can help you.

Aids and equipment for washing and bathing

If personal care is becoming difficult, you might find it useful to install some equipment, such as bars and handrails. This equipment can help the person feel more independent and more in control of their situation, and can also make washing and bathing easier and safer. It can also help someone continue to do things for themselves for longer – in their own home. It can also give you – family & carers – the reassurance of your loved ones safety and security.

Information about this sort of equipment is available from an occupational therapist, who you can contact through social services, the GP or district nurse. The service is free of charge. Included at the end of this is a list of useful reference websites.

Your healthcare professional or Occupational Therapist may suggest some of the following:

  • Grab bars for extra support when sitting or standing: help with getting in and out of the bath; on and off the toilet
  • handrails, which can be attached to the wall near the shower, washbasin or toilet. Floor to ceiling grab poles provide support, even in awkward spaces.
  • non-slip strips or stickers attached to the bottom of the bath or shower floor.
  • toilet safety frame – easy to install with no tools required, and easy to remove when not needed.
  • seats to go in the bath or shower
  • raised toilet seat. Available with and without arms, reduce the effort and distance to sit and stand.
  • Long handled bathing/toilet tissue aids improve hygiene and protect delicate skin. For ease, cleanliness and comfort.

To browse our range of products and services, visit www.HHADLEssentials.co.uk/shop

To watch our Top Tip Guide on bathing click here 

If you have any comments that would you like to add to this or want to talk to us – please call on 01531 635678 – we are based in Herefordshire, England. Do feel free to share with friends or family.

References

Daily caring for seniors

https://dailycaring.com

Foot care with Diabetes

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/foot-care-diabetics/

Help caring for someone with Alzheimer’s

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk

Home assessment – what might I need? – free online guide

https://asksara.dlf.org.uk

Independent living at home – full list of facts sheets of general advice on range of daily living equipment and advice when looking to buy

https://www.dlf.org.uk/content/full-list-factsheets

Go compare – trusted comparison site

https://www.livingmadeeasy.org.uk/

 

Everyday living – getting dressed

 The Helping Hand Company

Does arthritis, illness, surgery or other health conditions make it difficult for you or a loved one to get dressed and undressed? Read on to find out more and how simple steps can help make a difference for you.

We know that getting dressed is very important for us all and something that many of us struggle with during our lives. Under the Care Act 2014, local authorities have a duty to provide aids and minor adaptations free of charge to those who cannot do two or more activities of daily living, such as getting dressed or using the toilet without help.

Sports injury, during pregnancy, as a result of a fall or back problems may just be some of the reasons. As we get older, arthritis, illness or surgery may start to restrict our function and make it difficult for us to do what we always used to be able to do.

Why do we need to get dressed?

  • It gets you up and moving to embrace the day
  • It changes your mindset, ‘I can do’, giving you a positive start to the day
  • Enables us to achieve what we want to do
  • Good habits and small steps that can make a difference to everyday living
  • Simply makes us feel better. Its self-care and you matter.

Even if you are not going to leave the house today, getting up and dressed will make you feel better in yourself.

There are many ways in which our mobility can be affected. Some are short term, others more long term. We discuss here some of those we hear most frequently from our customers along with helpful resource links for further information.

Ongoing arthritis pain & fatigue

Even though arthritis cannot be cured, it can be kept under control with a combination of treatments and lifestyle changes. We understand that Arthritis can make it harder getting dressed, brushing your teeth or putting make-up on.

Top tips

  • Wear wider or lower sleeved tops (raglan) – less bending and easier to get in to
  • Limited shoulder mobility? Have you tried rear fastening tops?
  • Adding a metal ring or tying a piece of ribbon to zip pull can make it easier to grasp
  • Comfort should be the number one consideration when choosing shoes. Our feet may change as we get older so you may need to try difference size or width fitting.
  • A higher chair can make it much easier to get up. Make sure it gives you comfort, support and a good base to push up from. It is very important that you can place both feet firmly on the floor when seated.

Dementia

Dementia can affect all aspects of a person’s life as well as those around them. With the right help and support when you need it, many people can and do live well with Dementia

As the illness progresses it will start to impact daily activities like shopping, cooking, housework and everyday living.

Dressing is very personal to us and something we are used to making our own decisions on. Helping someone you care for with Dementia, look the way they always have will really help boost their self-esteem.

Top tips

  • Be flexible, maybe it is the same outfit several times, offer praise not criticism
  • Give choices but be careful not to be overwhelming. Select their favourite colours or just offer 2 choices
  • Organise the process. As we do when teaching children how to dress, laying out the clothes in order; handing one item at a time; keep instructions simple and direct
  • Stay seated when getting dressed. It reduces the risk of a fall, it’s safer and saves energy trying to balance.
  • Use something study for support when standing up to pull up trousers or skirts. It’s easy to get a little off balance when you do this.

Stroke

 Strokes affect everybody differently. Rehabilitation is all about getting back to normal living and living as independently as possible.

When recovering from a stroke, it is so important to re-learn the tasks of daily living. Gaining independence and feeling more in control of your life.

One everyday task is the ability to be able to dress by yourself. When you can do this yourself, it will also give those who care for you a bit of a break too.

This may be a big challenge at first, but there are techniques that make it easier, even if one side of the body is weak. Being able to dress on your own gives a self-esteem boost as well as help with overall recovery.

Did you know, it is also a form of therapy too? Using the affected side of the body as much as possible will help rebuild strength and re-train the brain.

You may need to go slow and take breaks. This will be mentally and physically challenging at first, but you can do it.

Top tips

  • Spending long periods of time in bed, do make sure that there are no tags or hard seams on clothing that can cause pressure and damage to fragile skin. Sitting in bed with wrinkled fabric can create uncomfortable pressure under bony points that are more prone to skin breakdown.
  • Generally, use your unaffected arm to dress the affected side first. It is the reverse when getting undressed.
  • Practice buttoning and unbuttoning on your lap before putting a shirt on
  • With shoes, you can write ‘R’ on the inside of the right shoe and ‘L’ on the inside of the left
  • Simplify what you need to do, and what you find hard, ask for help

It can be hard at first but it will get easier. You could start with a size larger in clothes than normal as they will be looser and then gradually return to normal size as dressing gets easier.

Caring for a loved one – a very helpful online self-help guide providing advice and information on products and equipment. Written by Occupational Therapists and equipment experts – it is totally free – visit www.AskSara.dlf.org.uk 

Getting dressed should not be a constant struggle or the reason that you lose your independence. There are many inexpensive dressing aids available today. Here are some of our best sellers that our customers have told us helps and makes it possible to continue getting dressed by themselves – simple and smart:

1. Shoe Helper

Use like a traditional reacher or grabber to pull up underwear or hook fabric to pull clothing closer to grab. The soft jaw lining is gentle against the skin when you want to remove clothes too.

This one doubles as a shoe horn too. You might think all shoe horns are equal, but this one is a cut above the rest. The extra length means no bending over.

2. Dressing stick

This simple wooden dressing stick has 2 plastic coated hooked ends. Use it to pull up pants and zips and help fasten buttons. Or, use it to push off clothing and remove socks. You might keep this in the bedroom and keep your grabber elsewhere in the house.

3. Classic Pro

This grabber can reach more than just clothing with the handy magnet end. Instead of bending over and reaching for various clothing items, just use the reacher tool. The hooked trigger is ideal for pulling clothing around the body too.

4. Sock aids

Putting on socks can be a huge effort for us all – never mind touching our toes! Our range of sock aids will give you plenty to choose from – even if you have to put on compression stockings or sports socks.

The Ezy Up has a plastic body and foam grips. First put the sock on the plastic tube, then insert your feet, wiggling toes all the way to the end before pulling up using the grips.

The Ezy On is particularly designed to use with compression hose or sports socks. Compression socks are one of the most difficult and time-consuming items to put on because they’re so tight.

To make things easier, the frame is available in 2 sizes. The larger one you can use lying, sitting or standing. The smaller one is great if you have someone who helps you.

The Soxon – Not all sock aids are the same – The Soxon is our bestseller. Ever tried to dress using just one hand?  On good days, it’s challenging, and on bad days, it could be impossible. The Soxon makes dressing easy one hand or two. Sensitive to skin allergies? Made with soft hypo allergenic fabric (bamboo!), it’s great to wick away excess moisture too. You can wash the Soxon just like your socks!

5. Shoe Horn

Many reviewers absolutely love this simple shoehorn. In an extra-long length of 21”/53cm meaning less bending to put on your shoes. Simply choose polished metal or bright yellow plastic.

Need more Information?

To find out more about each product, how to use them, visit our product page and find useful ‘How to’ Videos – https://www.hhadlessentials.co.uk/products/

To buy, visit our online shop www.HHADLEssentials.co.uk/shop

To chat through how we can help, please call the team in Herefordshire, England on 01531 635678.

Helpful Reference Guide

Arthritis

https://www.versusarthritis.org

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/arthritis/living-with/ 

Dementia

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/conditions-illnesses/dementia/a-dementia-friendly-home/

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/blog/how-make-dressing-easier-people-dementia

Stroke

https://www.strokeassociation.org

https://www.strokeassociation.org/en/help-and-support/for-family-caregivers/15-things-caregivers-should-know-after-a-loved-one-has-had-a-stroke

https://www.issybellefox.com/2019/03/i-live-in-stroke-limbo.html

Online self assessment guide

https://asksara.dlf.org.uk/

 The Helping Hand Company