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One of main duties of caregiving is providing personal care for your senior loved one, while still helping him or her maintain independence and dignity.

This can be a difficult time for the senior in your life. They may be embarrassed or even angry about their loss of independence, and their new, sometimes unwelcome reliance on others. By taking some simple steps, you can lessen the difficulty and communicate, in a caring way, to your elderly loved one that you are only there to assist and provide care. Here is some things you need to know about providing intimate care for your loved one:

Bathing: Your senior loved one may need help bathing. It is important to maintain bathing habits as it promotes good health, can help your loved one relax, and also provides an opportunity for increased circulation, especially for a bed-bound person. There are several items that can assist and make the experience much easier for both the senior and the caregiver. Transfer benches can make moving a wheelchair-bound senior into the shower safer and easier. Benches that are placed inside the shower can allow a senior to sit while being bathing. For the bed-bound elderly, there are hair washing basins, and other products that make bathing possible even at the bedside. Feeling good and looking good enhances the dignity of a loved one.

Toileting needs: This is an area where it is crucial that the caregiver show both compassion, and discretion. Some seniors may need assistance moving into the bathroom, and then can deal with personal needs on their own. There are items that can make the bathroom both safer, and easier to use. Just a few of these times are: raised and locking toilet seats, handles that help with steadiness and balance, and personal care products that easy to use, and gentle on aging skin. For the bed-bound elderly, using a bedpan is generally the only option. There are certain guidelines that can help in this delicate situation. These are:

  • Ask any visitors to please step out to provide privacy.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Discuss what you will do.
  • If the bed is adjustable, raise the bed to a working height and/or lock the wheels if needed.
  • Help your loved one raise up onto the bedpan.
  • Provide additional privacy if possible. (Walk away, turn around etc.)
  • It is also important to remember to offer the bedpan frequently. This helps to prevent accidents and embarrassments. Keep in mind that your elderly loved one may not realize the degree of their incontinence.

Grooming:  Grooming can be a large part of providing intimate care for your senior loved one. Many seniors reach a stage in life where they are no longer able to care for themselves. Providing this type of service to them is not only a health benefit (clean hair, teeth, etc.), but is also a chance to help sustain emotional health. This type of care can include:

  • Combing or brushing hair
  • Providing fingernail care
  • Providing foot care
  • Helping someone shave
  • Assisting with oral care
  • Performing oral care on an unconscious person
  • Flossing teeth
  • Assisting with denture care
  • Reinserting dentures

Providing personal care and grooming for your elderly loved one is an intimate part of caregiving. Providing this care gently and thoughtfully will enhance your senior loved one's quality of life, while at the same time help them maintain their independence and dignity.

About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.

Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.