One of the hardest things to accept about aging is our changing appearances and abilities. It’s difficult to let go of the youthful glow we once had. It’s also sobering to realize that we’re no longer capable of engaging in certain physical activities, such as cooking or cleaning the house. At times, older adults may find themselves so limited by their illness or condition that they aren’t even able to perform basic self-care tasks.
These tasks can include things such as bathing, combing one’s hair, or tidying up the fingernails. And the desire to do them is more than just an aesthetic one — taking pride in one’s appearance (and one’s home), is an important part of a person’s self-esteem. Fortunately, there is much help for seniors available in this regard — and without them ever having to walk out their front doors.
Providing help for seniors, no matter the setting
When I was the Director of Social Services at a nursing home, we’d have a “salon” day for residents and patients. We’d gather up the ladies (and gentlemen, if they wished), and give them manicures, help them put on makeup, moisturize their hands, and do other fun activities designed to make them look and feel their best. For our clients, who rarely had an occasion to dress up or otherwise pay special attention to grooming, this was a much-anticipated day at our facility.
You could see the benefits almost immediately, as a change began to come over the clients. They smiled more, engaged in conversation, and were generally happier throughout the day. Over time, it’s not hard to envision that regular care like this could lead to increased socialization, mental energy, and even a more positive outlook on life.
Fortunately, this simple type of care (and more complicated kinds, like bathing) are available in every setting — not just in a nursing home. And since the majority of older adults prefer to stay in their own homes as they age, it only makes sense to acquire such help for seniors wherever they live.
Giving older adults a boost — right where they live!
One of the biggest advantages in having regular visits from a home health aide is that they can perform self-care where the client is most comfortable. Whether it’s assisting them with picking out attractive and appropriate clothing, shaving, brushing their teeth, or tidying up the house, your loved one can continue to be surrounded by all things familiar.
In addition to letting an older adult’s best self shine through, closer attention to personal care can have health benefits as well. For example, regularly examining your loved one can alert caretakers to changes in their condition, such as unexplained bruises or altered skin texture. Proper oral care can lead to fewer cavities, just as skin care can lead to fewer infections. The same goes for the reducing bacteria with properly cleaned kitchens and bathrooms, and decreasing fall risks when clutter is cleared away from floors.
At first, your loved one may feel odd having someone take care of them in such an intimate and personal way. However, many older adults quickly find that their home health aides become like members of the family. Often, they grow to love the service so much, they wonder how they ever did without it!
Start brightening your loved one’s day right away
Have you noticed that your aging loved one is less able to adequately handle their personal needs? Do you visit their home only to find everything in disarray, and their hair and clothing unkempt? After checking with their doctor to make sure they’re still safe living at home, consider talking to them about getting an aide. In addition to keeping your loved one independent and healthy, improving the appearance of their home and physique may very well put a daily smile on their face!
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home care for older adults. Contact us to find out more.