Already have an account?
Get back to the

How to Be Kind and Compassionate When Talking to Your Aging Parents About Personal Hygiene


It can feel like an awkward topic, but making sure your elderly relatives are able to stay clean and healthy as they age is an important issue. A study by hygiene experts SCA found that almost half of older people hadn’t been able to talk to anyone about their changing hygiene needs, so it may well be that your parents will feel relieved if you bring up the subject.

SCA has teamed up with television GP Dr. Hilary Jones to give you advice on how to approach matters relating to hygiene with your nearest and dearest. 

How to Bring Up Hygiene With Your Mom or Dad

Talking to an elderly relative about their personal hygiene can be an embarrassing subject to broach for all involved. Firstly, pick your moment carefully, and approach your loved one in a private place where you both feel comfortable, at a time when there are no obvious tensions. Open your conversation by making it clear that you want to offer assistance, rather than take control. Avoid typically patronizing tones and phrases, and always remember, their dignity should be a priority. 

How to Spot the Signs That an Elderly Relative is Struggling

If an elderly person’s hygiene is starting to slip, it could be a sign they are experiencing feelings of stress or worry when it comes to carrying out their normal routine. The research shows that 38 percent of seniors are concerned about showering and bathing difficulties as they grow older. As a result, this could mean they might be neglecting their personal hygiene. Some of the signs to look out for are: 

  • Decreased strength, which could mean they cannot press down on sprays
  • Unsteady balance, which could keep them out of the bath or shower 
  • Failing sight, which could mean they doesn’t see their appearance clearly 
  • Their mobility is reduced, which could mean they may not be able to go and purchase hygiene products for themselves

Buying Hygiene Products for Aging Parents

Once you’ve determined why an older person isn’t keeping up with their hygiene routine, you can begin to understand which products they need to get them back on track. In preparation for helping ensure they have the correct supplies, make sure to understand and agree on specific items which can be of use to them. 

Be prepared for some embarrassment when it comes to discussing any needs for bladder weakness products, as the research reveals that 37 percent of seniors experience high levels of discomfort when shopping for these types of product. 

To dissuade this, sensitively and discreetly offer to help with bladder weakness supplies in the same way you would with items such as toothpaste, antiperspirant, toilet tissue, and soaps.

Be Patient

Most importantly, remember that talking about personal hygiene is a delicate situation. Take the time to listen and understand what their hygiene routines are so that you can determine the right course of action for them. It might be easier to arrange their personal care supplies in a calendar so that you and your loved one can both feel confident about their personal hygiene in the future. 

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Yours.

More From FIRST

Caregiver Burnout: 13 Real Women on How They Deal With Sandwich Generation Stress

What Women in the Sandwich Generation Often Miss About Their Own Happiness

The Direction You Hug Says a Lot About Your Emotional State

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.