Grooming Needs–hair and nails


imagesCA00DD0GWashing hair for bedridden seniors who lie in bed mostly on their backs or sides with contractures takes practice and patience.  And if you didn’t have that “no rinse shampoo and body wash”,  you would have had to do it the old fashion way.   Soap.  Shampoo. Water.  More important, if you had not wash the hair in a while,  it most likely would need a regular hair washing to get out the built up grime and grease balls.

First, gather up all the items which you will need for the wash:

1)  Plastic hair washing basin

2)  Enough Towels and hand rags.

3) Wide tooth comb w/soft bristled brush

4)  Baby or dandruff shampoo (if needed)

5)  Fill 2-plastic gal. water jugs for rinsing the hair

6)  A few cotton balls to plug up ear/s

7)  One 12-gal plastic water pail–to catch basin drain water

 8)  A  2nd 12-gal plastic water pail (1/2             filled) for washing hair

  9)  A quality Herbal hair grease.

First, you will have to prepare the area around the upper body before you begin the wash.  Having an inflatable plastic hair washing basin can be so convenient for those who have to lie in prone positions.

For this part of it, there is not much preparation.   Just inflate it with air. However, my mom laid on her sides. That sometimes presented a little more difficulty for me to properly position her head in the basin.massaging elderly 3

  • After filling up the basin with air, have someone help you gently lift up the head and shoulders  enough so that you can slide a few sheets of bed pads under the shoulders just past the armpits.  This will keep wash and rinse water from spilling on the bed.  Make sure that any clothing is rolled away from the shoulders to avoid getting wet.

  • Next, position the head in the plastic basin. Those basins have a long drain hose attachment on the bottom for drain water.  You can slip this hose between mattress and headboard with end of it leading into an empty plastic water pail.  That will catch the waste water.

  • Then, get a few cotton bath mats or hand towels.  Roll them up.  Position them under the neck and around the bottom shoulder to further help with absorbing “spill water”.

  • Next,  plug up the ears with cotton balls to prevent wash or rinse water from spilling in there.  It’s best if he or she is lying on her back.  If not, then all you would need to plug up is only the top exposed ear. Someone else may have to help prop up the head while the other person wash. Never leave your senior’s head bent back in an unnatural position.  Keep head properly elevated.

  • Then, gather your comb and brush. Remember.  Older seniors’ hair tend to be more brittle and/or thin than not.  So, don’t use combs with narrow gaps between the teeth.  The wide gapped tooth combs are better.  Still, I would use a little hair conditioner to be on the safe side.

  • If you are someone who has gotten into the habit of using too much grease on unwashed hair to help loosen up snarls, between washes, then always check carefully for dirt,  grease buildup and sores on scalps.  You may have to scrub a little more vigorously to remove those grease balls.

  • But, be very careful!  If tiny sores are present, do not scrub over them.  Gently hand wash over them with warm water (use rubber gloves).  Dabbing a little peroxide on them can help aid in the healing.  Then apply some type of antibiotic healing cream on them only after you carefully and completely dry the hair and scalp.

  • Anyway, if you’re just dealing with grease buildup during the wash, a soft bristle brush can help loosen up any greasy deposits without harsh scrubbing.  Always closely examine first (with a flashlight if necessary) the scalp by touch and vision.  Pulling hair with narrow gapped tooth combs and scraping scalps with hard bristled brushes can cause a good bit of discomfort and damage if not careful. You can also pull out a good bit of hair by doing that.

  • Next, I usually fold up a washcloth in threes (3-folds) and lay it across the forehead to prevent water from spilling into the eyes.  Replace it whenever it gets saturated..

  • Finally, start washing.  To help with soreness or itching on the scalp, I usually add a half ounce of witch hazel in the rinse water.  Now go wash that hair!

  • Ordinarily, caregivers should use baby shampoo.  But sometime there might be dandruff present.  In this case use a shampoo with dandruff control or a shampoo product that control eczema and psoriasis.  Using a little witch Hazel can

    grooming hair for elderlyalso help with soothing and healing sore scalps from mild psoriasis.  Don’t use too much.  Mix in about a half ounce of Witch Hazel per gallon of rinse water.  This has always worked for me. Though it might be better first to test a small area of the head before saturating the entire head.  Some scalps might not can tolerate Witch Hazel. These days, most OTC Witch Hazel has been watered down.  Test first if this is still a concern to you as primary caregiver.

  • Last, dry the hair thoroughly and wrap up with a medium-sized terry towel.  Never apply too much grease to style or plait. That’s it.  You’re done!


imagesCAXTOHQETrimming and clipping the fingernails or toenails of ailing seniors takes time, patience and a good pair of strong magnifying eyeglasses.  More often than not, their nails will be overgrown and irregularly shaped.   Cutting close to the cuticles can be tricking and painful if you are not careful.  If you are not knowledgeable about trimming cuticles, you should allow a trained manicurist to do it.  Try to focus on just clipping nails.  This is how I normally clipped my mother’s nails.imagesCAW8WZAV


  • Get a small metal or plastic basin 1/3 full of warm water mixed with a few capfuls of peroxide  along with some hand wash for washing after you are finished clipping.

  • Get a white cloth bath mat and a hand towel.

  • Lay the hand on the bathmat.  You will use the hand towel for drying when you’re done.

  • Get a nice pair of nail clippers, emery board and small imagesCATUEQXLwooden pick for scrapping  any dirt from under the nails.   Try not to use the tips of pointy metal emory boards for digging out dirt under the nails.  The skin of the elderly is very fragile. You could accidentally tear skin.  I would just use the filing part of it.

  • Begin clipping.  Take your time before you snip.  Having poor eyesight can result in snipping actual flesh.  Make sure you have only nails between clippers before you snip.  Do not ever cut the nails too close to the quick.

  • After you are finished, wash that hand with the warm water and soap in basin.  Thoroughly dry.  If you decide to set the basin next to your senior on top of bed covers, place a bed pad beneath it to catch spills.

  • Repeat process with other hand.imagesCABGM1TU


  • Gather a Terry cloth bath mat and cotton rags.  Or you can use a bed pad.  Works just as well.

  • Place the bath mat or bed pad under the foot which you are working on at the time.

  • imagesCAZ3SHKQAssemble all your clipping tools for clipping toe nails.  Use the heavier nail clippers.  Toe nails can be tough and gnarly.  Make sure you have a good pair of magnifying eye glasses with you.  Again, you don’t want to mistakenly snip flesh instead of nails.

  • After clipping, have a strong set of nail files.  Some toe nailsimagesCACTSGGW are thick and overgrown.  Be patient and don’t over file.

  • Lastly, wash foot and dry thoroughly.  Don’t forget to clean between the toes.  Afterwards, apply a good moisturizer on feet.   Sometimes it will be necessary to put on the feet a pair of cotton socks after each clipping and washing.  Feet have a tendency to get chilly from poor circulation.  It might be a good thing to massage the feet as well to help restore adequate blood flow.

After you finish feet, record the condition of the toenails in your Journal.  Comment on the length and color.  Sometimes the color of ones toenail can indicate that something else might be going on besides just having bad color and odor.  Talk to the doctor about the condition of the feet, and if you need a podiatrist to further examine them, do so.  That’s it.  You can take off the mask now!New_1_DSCF0119


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *