Friday, 19 September 2014

How to Shower an Elderly Person (4) DRY UP!

Final Procedures of Shower Assistance

DRYING OFF  (Blimmen heck, are we there yet?!)
Yes, I know…assisting a frail elderly adult through the Shower process can seem like an arduous and often complex affair - but hang in there, we’re nearly done!

Ok, so after strategically manoeuvering your client out of their shower (or at least being in the proximity as they haul themselves out, remember: safety safety SAFETY) it’s now time to dry off.  

And of course you have all the towels already at hand to wrap round your client’s shoulders as they lunge towards you – perhaps one for wet hair if it was washed, as well as the main one for their bod. 

Important to get elderly people dry after shower time

Towelling around

A good idea, while they are still standing (and yes, holding onto a handrail) is to rub dry your client’s back and then travel all the way down drying their bum and the backs of their legs as well.  It's a good idea to try and catch them before they crash land onto the bathroom chair with the sheer exhaustion of it all!  

Then, once sitting, you can conceivably hand over a towel for your client to dry their own face, neck, upper body and arms (and front bums too usually about now). Try and encourage as much independence as you can although in my experience, this is where a lot of older people run out of steam and are left with very little energy to do much at all.  

Therefore, it’s up to you to finish off and check for any parts that may still be moist-ish! 

I make a point to re-dry areas such as the pits of the underarms, beneath a woman’s breasts (ahem... sometimes a man’s!) and other skin folds around the torso just to be sure, to be sure.  You’ll find your client will appreciate such diligence because they know how essential it is to get completely dry.

You too, will be fully aware that creases left with moisture can mean nasty microorganisms are allowed to breed and when that happens, there is a strong possibility of it developing into….please no... oh don’t let it be so – OH GOD... INFECTION!  

And being that elderly people generally, are already compromised when it comes to immunity, the last thing they need is for gluggy wet forgotten areas of your Beloved's skin to end up all stinky and horrid.  

You don’t want your poor naked pensioner having their leg drop off from gangrene because YOU didn't perform your Personal Care role properly, now do you?  

(Yes that would be a worst case scenario, so let's not even go there).  

Keep elderly clients' toes dry

Keep those tootsies dry, Dry, DRY!

By the way, a special mention here to TOES.  

These are usually the last point of attack when it comes to drying your client - so always make it count!  A grand idea is to crouch on down to toe-vicinity and use the edge of the towel to zig-zag backwards and forwards in between each toe (as in a hack-saw motion) and then do it over again if you still aren't happy with having got it all. 

Ensuring tootsies are completely dry is imperative because of course if toes or feet are out of action, then your client is out of action.  And once an elderly adult is immobile – it’s a dam hard road for them to get back to full strength again… and sadly, some never come right.  

Don't say I didn't warn you.


Before you start dragging clothes on to your beloved shower-ee, you need to be aware (via the Care Plan) if there are any other minor Personal Care grooming rituals that your client undergoes before dressing. 

A good time to have a chat about this would be after you've slipped on the underwear component of their dress.  This is obviously for modesty’s sake and so your client is not left feeling ill at ease with being naked and exposed to all and sundry.  

Note too, that this would be the ideal moment to slip in any continence pads or special adult diaper pants into your client’s knickers.  As disdainful as it seems, you WILL get used to seeing these delightful devices - although you can tell by how much your client complains that THEY goddam never will!  Do you blame them?

But back to the Grooming ritual section of our quest. Things such as:
  • the dispersal of talcum powder (to keep sweaty areas dry)
  • the application of moisturiser to dry skin (usually legs and arms)
  • a squirt of body spray or dash of underarm deodorant
  • the donning of Compression Stockings (used in an aid to assist circulation)

Once all the pre-lim stuff is sorted you can then launch into operation ‘Clothes On’ with hopefully a minimum of fuss as you approach your big finale.  

A point to consider during all of this Personal Care process is to be mindful of the delicateness of the skin elderly people are burdened with and how easily it will bruise (or even tear, eeek!).  Especially from getting snagged on clothing, zippers or worse still – your finger nails.  

So slow and steady wins the race; don’t rush things and unless your client is clearly struggling, allow them to do as much as they can on their own.  Oh and don’t forget to slide any dicky limbs into sleeves or pant legs first so you aren't left battling with a floppy elbow joint or gammy leg that just won’t bend where you need it to.  

Talk to your client as you go – they usually have the routine down pat, so don’t try and be a self-appointed smarty-pants.  Instead, follow their lead. 

Elderly people have extremely thin skin

The skin , that elderly are in


Ok, let’s move things along a bit here (I’m bored with it now). 
Your elderly client is now fully clad in their costume of choice so you are left with only a couple of tail-end bits n bobs to wrap things up. 

These might be:   

  • Hearing Aids can go back in
  • Offer to brush/comb hair
  • Offer to blow-dry wet hair
  • Do they need help with brushing teeth or dentures?
  • Assistance with shaving?
  • Applying makeup?

Thankfully, you will find most of your clients can handle all these fiddly extras on their own and usually prefer to attend to them once you have departed.  As Mrs Harriet Hornblower likes to remind all us when we offer to help her put her deep burgundy lippy on:

“I‘m not in a nursing home yet, Honeybunch!”

Helping elderly clients apply makeup

Get your pucker up, Mrs Hornblower!


You’re on the downhill slide to victory now!  Just a couple of quickies and you’ll be in the car roaring off to your next victim client before you know it.

Once you have chaperoned your spruced up client to the security of their favourite chair in the lounge, it is expected that the Carer then complete their duty with a brief tidy-up of the bathroom.  

This would involve the likes of:

  • Disposal of dirty towels, soiled clothing etc into the laundry
  • Hanging up rubber mats so they don't become all manky and start to perish
  • Does the floor need a quick mop up?
  • Check the heater is off
  • Ditto for the fan

Hooray you made it!  

Isn't it comforting to know how all of us, regardless of our age, feel so much better after a nice hot shower?


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