The Impact Of Poor Hygiene On The Elderly

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The impact of poor hygiene on the elderly

Poor hygiene can impact a person’s life negatively in many ways. There is a widespread social stigma attached to producing foul odors, wearing unclean clothes and having stained teeth, unkempt hair and dirty fingernails. However, the problems associated with poor hygiene extend far beyond unfavorable opinions.

There Are Health Implications For Not Having Good Personal Hygiene

This is especially true for senior citizens. With aging comes greater susceptibility to illness. Keeping clean, therefore, is integral to better overall health. As points out, there are many medical consequences that elderly people need to take into consideration.

“Poor personal hygiene can lead to skin infections with bacteria and fungi and parasitic infestations of the skin and hair,” explains the website, “This can be transmitted to others in close contact with the person. The consequences are not isolated to the outside of the body. Unclean hands, utensils and crockery can increase the chances of diseases like gastroenteritis and food poisoning.”
Infection goes on to explain that one’s poor hygiene can have potentially fatal consequences for seniors. The spread of infection can lead those with weakened immune systems to develop conditions like septicemia, which is blood poisoning. Needless to say, it’s vital that seniors practice good hygiene. However, it’s a common occurrence to encounter an older adult who is hesitant to take regular baths or showers.

Why Do So Many Elders Oppose Regular Bathing?

There are several factors that cause older adults to avoid the bathtub or shower. They include a fear of slipping and falling. In many of our past blogs, we’ve highlighted the dangers of the bathroom and the fact that slips and falls lead to the majority of hospitalizations of American seniors each year.

In addition, diminished strength and balance, which is commonplace in our advanced years, make it so that caregivers are required to assist with the bathing process. This creates shame and embarrassment for many elderly people.

A Loss of Independence Causes an Emotional Strain That Can Be Hard to Overcome

As Carol Bradley Bursack explains on, depression can cause seniors to lose interest in how they look or smell. “If your elders feel isolated or are depressed over life or health issues, they may not care enough to bother with hygiene,” she writes, “If you feel this is the case, the person should see a doctor and the doctor should consider depression. Depression is a much larger issue than cleanliness. If depression is successfully treated, then it’s quite likely there will be a renewed interest in hygiene.”

Bursack also explains that hearing loss and vision problems are other reasons why many seniors avoid bathing. As well, keep in mind that their senses of smell may not be as strong as they once were. Bursack points out that some elderly people are known for their overuse of perfume – a direct result of a diminished sense of smell.

Let’s not forget that memory loss can also play a factor in poor hygiene among seniors. Gentle reminders will help the senior in your life to take the shower he/she may have thought was taken just yesterday.

At Forward Day, we’re confident we have the ideal solution to your elderly loved one’s hygiene issues. With our Shower Bay portable showers, they can take private showers with running water without the fear of slipping and falling. Learn more by calling us at 1-877-593-4461 or emailing us at!

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