Recognizing Signs of Decline in Personal Hygiene for Your Older Loved Ones

Recognizing Signs of Decline in Personal Hygiene for Your Older Loved Ones

A son talking to his parents.

May 23, 2024

As our loved ones age, it’s natural for them to experience various changes in their physical and mental health, and one area that can sometimes be overlooked is personal hygiene. While it might not always seem concerning at first, it’s crucial to recognize the signs of decline in personal hygiene early on, as it can sometimes be an indicator of underlying health issues or cognitive decline. At Heather Glen Senior Living, we believe in supporting families by providing them with information to ensure the well-being of their older family members, so read on to see some key signs to watch for with their personal hygiene and steps you can take to address them.

Key signs of decline in personal hygiene 

Recognizing the key signs of decline in personal hygiene in your older loved ones is crucial, so one thing to look out for is any unusual or strong body odor, which may indicate irregular bathing. Disheveled clothing is another sign you can look for, as stained or dirty clothes worn for several days can sometimes suggest difficulties with laundry or dressing. With oral hygiene issues, persistent bad breath might mean that your older loved ones aren’t brushing their teeth regularly, and noticeable dental problems such as cavities or gum disease can point to a lack of oral care. Additionally, neglected hair and nails, such as greasy, uncombed hair or long, dirty, broken nails, may suggest challenges in personal grooming. 

While those are some physical changes you would be able to notice, you’ll also want to look for any changes in their living environment, such as increased clutter or persistent unpleasant odors as those can signal issues with maintaining their space or waste disposal. Any behavioral changes are also important to note—such as avoiding social situations due to embarrassment about their hygiene, or signs of depression or anxiety—as mental health issues often manifest in poor personal care habits. 

Steps to address declining personal hygiene 

When you address the topic of declining personal hygiene to your older loved ones, start with open and compassionate communication by gently expressing your concerns using “I” statements and actively listening to any difficulties they might be facing. It’s important at this time to assess any underlying causes by scheduling a medical check-up to rule out some health issues.

This is also an ideal time to begin creating a comfortable routine that includes daily hygiene activities and adapts to their environment in order to make these tasks easier—such as installing grab bars in the bathroom. You can also begin to encourage social interaction through participation in social activities and community events to help improve their motivation, and ensure regular family visits for emotional support and encouragement. If you’re able, consider offering practical support by assisting with daily tasks such as bathing and grooming, or look at hiring professional help such as having a caregiver come to the home or utilizing senior living services like ours at Heather Glen Senior Living.  

Our team is here to help

At Heather Glen Senior Living, we understand the challenges that come with aging and are dedicated to providing compassionate care and support. Recognizing and addressing the signs of declining personal hygiene in your older loved ones is essential for their overall well-being and quality of life, and by staying proactive, you can help ensure they maintain their dignity and health as they age. If you’d like to know more about the work we do at Heather Glen Senior Living, give us a call at (610) 841-4478 or fill out our online form today.

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