When older adults can no longer dress, groom, or bathe without help, they often turn to personal care services.
In these cases, personal care can be a literal lifesaver. Personal care services prevent seniors from falling into self-neglect. They reduce the chance of life-threatening accidents, such as slips in the bathroom. And perhaps most importantly, they allow seniors to continue living at home, which is linked to improved physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being.
Despite the advantages of personal care, most seniors hesitate to hire these services. Usually, this is due to feelings of discomfort or embarrassment.
This is entirely understandable. After all, most of us would feel the same way about hiring someone to help them dress, bathe, and brush their teeth. But when seniors clearly need personal care, we need to address these concerns to make care services possible.
If you’re hiring personal care services for a loved one, here are 9 strategies to reduce feelings of discomfort, anxiety, and embarrassment.
Strategies for Minimizing Discomfort with Personal Care Services
1. Find Ways to Personalize Your Loved One’s Care
The best way to reduce uneasiness around personal care services is to follow your loved one’s wishes and preferences whenever possible. Ask them about their biggest worries and discomforts regarding personal care services and see if you can find ways to directly address these concerns.
At Visiting Angels, this is one of our biggest priorities. We customize our care services for every client, and we stress the importance of personalized care. If your loved one has unique needs or preferences, we will be happy to discuss ways to accommodate these concerns when building his or her care plan.
2. Make It Part of Your Loved One’s Routine
Unpleasant tasks are easier to deal with when they’re an expected part of our routine. If personal care feels like an everyday part of your loved one’s life, that will usually help reduce their anxieties and discomfort.
Here are three ways to make personal care services feel like a part of your loved one’s routine:
- Schedule care activities so that they occur at the same time each day/week
- Make sure that care activities are performed the same way each time
- Have personal care services provided by the same person whenever possible
3. Create Soothing and Peaceful Environments
One way to make personal care less stressful is to provide care in a soothing and peaceful environment. This can be as simple as keeping your loved one’s bed and bathroom tidy, reducing feelings of frustration and anxiety. Some seniors find it easier to relax when listening to peaceful music or nature sounds, while others enjoy calming scents, like lavender or jasmine.
4. Rethink Your Loved One’s Wardrobe
If your loved one needs help getting dressed and undressed, it might be helpful to rethink their wardrobe. Certain types of clothing take longer to put on and take off, while others can pinch, scratch, or irritate your loved one’s skin. Swapping out these items can make dressing a faster, easier, and less stressful process.
5. Keep the Closet and Bathroom Organized
The longer it takes to find a matching sock or your loved one’s shampoo, the longer dressing or bathing will drag on. When clothing and toiletries are well organized, caregivers can perform personal care services more quickly and with less stress.
If you or your loved one have trouble keeping organized, consider talking with your caregiver or care agency. Many providers of personal care also offer companion care, which covers activities like laundry and light housekeeping, allowing caregivers to keep these areas organized themselves.
6. Preserve Modesty When Dressing or Bathing
Many elderly adults feel embarrassed and vulnerable undressing in front of others, which is often required for personal care services. Because of this, it’s often helpful to have towels, robes, or similar items on hand. This way, seniors can preserve modesty whenever possible, such as immediately before or after bathing.
7. Give Your Loved One Somewhere to Sit
Seniors often have trouble standing for long periods of time. Additionally, many seniors have issues with coordination and balance. Because of this, it’s important that seniors have somewhere to sit while they bathe, get dressed, or receive grooming assistance. This will help them stay comfortable and reduce the risk of losing their balance, which could result in serious injury.
8. Ask for Help with Awkward Conversations
Simply talking about personal care services can be awkward for seniors, especially with friends or family members. One way to get around this is to have these conversations with professionals, such as a care agency director or your loved one’s physician.
At Visiting Angels, our directors offer free, no-obligation, in-home consultations. Our directors have plenty of experience talking about personal care services with seniors and families, making it easier to have these conversations. These consultations can be performed as group discussions, or we can meet privately with seniors and family members to alleviate feelings of awkwardness.
9. Choose the Right Personal Care Provider
With personal care services, the right caregiver can make a world of difference. A great caregiver agency will take the time to match your loved one with the right caregiver. This will be someone whose skills, qualifications, and personality align with your loved one’s needs.
At Visiting Angels, we take this a step further. Rather than simply assign a caregiver to your loved one, we give you the chance to Select Your Caregiver®. This way, you can make sure that your loved one feels comfortable with their care provider.
Learn more about personal care services in your area and request a free consultation by contacting your local Visiting Angels office today.