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How to Help Bedridden Seniors Wash Their Hair?

hair washing aids for elderly people

hair washing aids for elderly people

Good personal hygiene continues to be important as seniors age. But helping an older adult who is bedridden may be more difficult, especially when it comes to washing their hair. If you’re caring for your senior, here are tips and tricks to make the task of washing hair easier and more comfortable.

Why is Hair Washing Important?

Washing hair is a vital part of personal hygiene. A clean scalp and hair are more resistant to disease and chronic conditions, such as dandruff and folliculitis. Furthermore, having clean hair increases the older adult’s feelings of emotional well-being and physical comfort. If seniors are resistant to wash their hair, gradually they develop common scalp issues like shingles on the head, hair loss, scalp psoriasis etc.

Keeping a senior’s hair clean prevents it from becoming matted, greasy, and dull. Hair washing reduces the itchiness and redness that can result from an unclean scalp. Seniors who neglect to wash their hair may even develop bald spots or lose their hair.

How Often Should an Elderly Woman Wash their Hair?

Especially when the senior is bedridden, whether due to a sudden stroke or pneumonia, they will need help washing their hair. How often depends on the type of hair, such as curly or coarse. However, no single time frame is guaranteed to work for every senior.

In general, most elderly women should wash their hair once a week. A weekly shampoo washes away the dirt that accumulates daily. More importantly, hair washing reduces the buildup of oil, called sebum, on the scalp. This natural oil remains in the hair until it is washed.

Learn more: What happens if Seniors don’t wash their hair?

6 Hair Washing Methods for Dementia, Disabled & Bedridden Senior

When taking care of a senior who can’t get out of bed, it’s important to wash their hair gently. Keeping their hair clean and comfortable is not easy without a shower. But there are ways to do it well. If you find yourself unable to manage it alone, consider hiring an elderly home care service. Caregivers from these services are well-trained and knowledgeable about attending to bedridden seniors. Here are helpful aids for washing elderly’s hair effectively.

how to wash dementia seniors hair

Method 1: Portable Hair Washing Basin

An inflatable or portable shampoo basin is an ideal hair-washing aid for seniors who are bedridden. It resembles the shampoo sinks used in hair salons. The inflatable shampoo basin rests under the senior’s neck as they lie down. It surrounds the head and can be conveniently filled with water.

As the caregiver saturates the senior’s hair, the basin catches the water. The portable hair washing basin ensures only the senior’s hair gets wet; the bedding doesn’t get soaked. Simply drop a dollop of shampoo, wash and rinse. Remove the basin and dry the senior’s hair.

The inflatable hair washing basin is inexpensive, averaging $30 at drugstores. The contraption is worth the cost, as it gives the caregiver easy access to the hair at the back of the senior’s head. Washing is safe, secure, and comfortable. Plus, the basin is simple to use.

Method 2: Shampoo Cap

A shampoo cap is intended for days when water is not used to shampoo a senior’s hair. Fill the cap with the senior’s favorite shampoo, place it over their head and massage. After shampooing, remove the cap and use a damp towel to remove the product and any dirt.

Shampoo caps are ideal when the senior is bedridden due to a surgery and the wound should not be soaked in water until it is healed. Even though water is not used, the shampoo cap helps the elderly care recipient feel cleaner and smell fresher.

Although the shampoo cap can be used anywhere, it does not perform as well as washing with water. With continued use and without effective removal, the product can build up in the senior’s hair. Each packet is single-use, which makes disposal less eco-friendly.

Method 3: No-Rinse Shampoo

Alternately, help seniors wash their hair with a no-rinse shampoo. This method works similarly to the shampoo cap but does not require a cap. Apply the product to the senior’s head and work it into a lather. Towel off the product and style the senior’s hair as usual.

Rinse-free shampoos are designed to be non-irritating to the senior’s scalp. They leave the older person’s hair clean and odor-free. The product is also inexpensive and sustainable. The key to avoiding buildup of the product is to thoroughly towel it off after shampooing.

Method 4: Flannel and Water

Flannel and water offer another practical option for washing the hair of elderly individuals. With just a soft flannel or washcloth and a basin of warm water, this method provides a simple yet effective way to cleanse the scalp and hair. Make sure the person is comfortable, either sitting up or with their head tilted back over the basin. Once ready, dampen the flannel in the warm water, making sure to wring out any excess. Optionally, you can apply a small amount of shampoo to the damp flannel. Gently wipe the damp flannel over the scalp and hair, massaging gently to lift dirt and oil.

Method 5: Tilting Commode

A tilting commode is a chair that can lean back, which helps seniors who may have trouble moving around easily. To wash a senior’s hair with a tilting commode, you first position the chair in the right spot and help the senior sit on it comfortably. Then, you tilt the chair so it’s easy to reach their head. Using a soft cloth and water, gently wash their hair, making sure they feel comfortable the whole time. If you have access to it, you can rinse their hair with a cup or a handheld shower.

Method 6: Diluting Shampoo in a Spray Bottle

Diluting shampoo in a spray bottle is a convenient method that can be performed right in bed, eliminating the need for seniors to get up. By mixing 1 tablespoon of shampoo with 1 quart of water, a gentle solution is created. This diluted shampoo mixture can then be sprayed evenly onto the hair, ensuring thorough coverage. Once applied, massage the mixture into a lather to cleanse the hair thoroughly. Then, spray with clean warm water and use a dry towel to dry the hair.

What hair-washing tips help caregivers?

The skin on a senior’s scalp is naturally fragile, and a caregiver can unintentionally apply too much pressure during shampooing, causing discomfort for the senior. Wearing disposable gloves while washing the aging care recipient’s hair prevents the caregiver from accidentally hurting them. Adequate preparation of the area around the bedridden senior is also helpful. To prevent the bed from getting wet, it can be lined with towels or trash bags. Keeping dry washcloths nearby and offering them to the bedridden senior if water splashes on their face is advisable. Bedridden older adults feel refreshed after caregivers shampoo their hair. The availability of numerous products and techniques makes hair washing doable for any caregiver. However, when families are overwhelmed with caregiving, it makes sense to delegate some tasks to home care professionals.

Assisting Hands for Personal Care

Assisting Hands Home Care is a reputable senior home care service staffed with experienced caregivers who help the elderly with the activities of daily living. Our assistance with personal hygiene tasks, from hair washing to grooming and toileting, keeps seniors feeling clean and comfortable.

Our in-home support goes further. Professional caregivers provide safe transportation and escort to local destinations, such as the doctor’s office or the post office. We shop for groceries and prepare balanced meals to ensure aging care recipients maintain a healthy weight and stay hydrated.

Included in our non-medical services is pleasant companionship; caregivers initiate pleasant conversations, take care recipients on outings and play games that stimulate their minds. We also remove clutter and other fall hazards to promote safety in the senior’s living environment.

Caregivers from our home care agency are licensed, bonded, and insured to give families and their aging loved ones peace of mind. Care options range from short-term respite care to ongoing live-in care. We offer specialized care, such as compassionate memory care and Parkinson’s care.

Whether the senior in your life needs minimal help, such as with hair washing, or would benefit from ongoing support, quality elder care from Assisting Hands Home Care is the solution. We serve seniors in Palos Heights, Palos Hills, Willow Springs, & Romeoville, Illinois. Call today to schedule a free in-home consult.