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Importance of Personal Hygiene

The importance of personal hygiene for older people cannot be over-emphasised. Your loved one will feel so much better when their teeth are clean and sparkling, when their hair is freshly washed and styled and when nails are neatly trimmed and filed. When it comes to older people personal hygiene can become increasingly difficult to keep on top of, but just a few small changes to their daily routine could be all that’s needed for your relative to look – and feel – a million pounds again.

Care Home Resident with staff

Tooth Care

Dental hygiene is important at any age, but older people often struggle with the daily routine of keeping their teeth in tip-top condition. Even if your loved one has dentures, it’s important to keep them as clean as possible to avoid bad breath and the risk of ulcers or other disorders of the mouth.

The importance of personal hygiene for older people means that you need to encourage your loved one to visit their dentist as frequently as possible, and this can still be done even if your relative has significant health problems, with many community dental services offering an ‘at home’ service.

Normal teeth brushing makes demands on your older relative, but even something as simple as switching to an electric toothbrush can be all that’s needed for the activity to become less of a chore. If your relative prefers a manual toothbrush, selecting one with an angled head or large-grip handle could make it easier for them. Look out for toothpaste squeezers that make light work of squeezing the tube, and allow your relative to retain their independence for longer.

Hair Care

Hair washing needn’t be a chore if your older relative has a walk-in shower and good use of their arms. A shower seat is helpful, and a long-handled massager can be invaluable for working up a lather. It there is no shower, it may be necessary to wash your loved one’s hair over a sink or basin.

Hair washing trays, inflatable shampoo basins and no-rinse shampoos can all make the process of hair washing easier, while long-handled brushes and styling aids allow your loved one to style their own hair.

Nail Care

Long fingernails and toenails are unsightly and unhealthy, so it might be a good idea to treat your loved one to an occasional professional manicure and pedicure to keep them in tip-top condition.

For in-home use, look for nail clippers with built-in magnifying lenses, while base-mounted clippers can make it easier for those lacking in strength. Long-handled clippers are ideal for reaching toes.


A daily shaving routine helps to keep your older male relative’s facial hair in check and is part of a familiar routine for most men. Make life easier by placing a stool next to the basin and mirror, or perhaps try switching to an electric razor instead.

Lighting needs to be appropriate, so the addition of over-mirror lighting might be helpful. Aim for lights of 200 lux for the best effect, and make sure that the light is diffused to prevent glare.

The importance of personal hygiene for older people can have a profound effect on their overall wellbeing, so consider making changes that enable your loved one to keep clean with the minimum of fuss.

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