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Personal hygiene and dementia

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People with dementia can find caring for themselves difficult because of the many steps involved, or they may simply forget about their personal hygiene needs.

They can also become anxious about certain aspects of personal hygiene. For example, they may be scared of falling when getting out of the bath, or they may become disorientated in the shower. The person you care for may not want to be left alone or they may resist washing because they find the lack of privacy undignified and embarrassing.

There are many ways you can help a person with dementia attend to their personal hygiene needs. You can try:

  • reminding them to have a bath or shower
  • keeping to their old bathing routines as much as possible — for example, if they always had baths, then keep that routine going
  • installing special bathroom fittings and aids such as a grab-rails to make them feel safer when they are getting in and out of the shower or bath or shower chairs to reduce the risk of slipping or falling
  • breaking down the tasks into simple steps
  • making sure they have as much privacy as possible, while ensuring their safety

You can discuss any issues you are worried about with the person’s doctor.

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Last reviewed: October 2018

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Hygiene | Dementia Australia

Types of hygiene issues Causes of hygiene issues Further information It is quite common for people with dementia to lose interest in, or forget about, personal hygiene. Although this can be upsetting for families and carers, working out ways of coping without argument or confrontation can be worthwhile.

Read more on Dementia Australia website

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