Hygiene isn’t just about cleanliness, but wellness. It is essential for keeping you free of infections, preventing injuries and maintaining overall physical and emotional well-being. Ultimately, good hygiene makes you feel better and makes others feel better around you.

Oral Hygiene
Oral hygiene is key to preventing mouth sores, bad breath and keeps mucous membranes from becoming dry and cracked. Poor oral hygiene is associated with the development of pneumonia in older adults and can also contribute to poor appetite, which can lead to weight loss and malnutrition.

Regular brushing and flossing is central to good oral hygiene. Be sure to brush your teeth daily, especially at bedtime.

If you have dentures, regular care is also necessary. Check them often for proper fit and clean them once a day to prevent staining, bad breath and gum irritation.

Notify your dentist of any red or white spots or sores that bleed or last longer than two weeks.

Fingernail Care
The fingernail of an older adult grows about half as fast as a younger adult. Their nails cas be ridged, grooved, thick and brittle. Follow these steps weekly to keep nails in an attractive condition.

Wash hands under running water. Clean under nails using the pointed edge of an orangewood stick. Avoid metal instruments for cleaning under the nails.

Massage nails and cuticles with lotion, being sure to massage the sides of nails and areas where nail extends of the finger. Soak them in warm, soapy water for 3 to 5 minutes. This will soften the cuticles and make them easier to manipulate. Push back cuticles gently.

Shape nails into an oval using the fine side of an emory board. Move the emory board in one direction and not a sawing motion. Avoid filing too close to the side of the finger, as it could injure the cuticle and skin. Cutting the nails can also make them brittle.

Skin Care
Skin care doesn’t differ much from that of a younger person, but it is important to understand how aging skin changes.

The outer layer of the skin begins to think, making it more sensitive and prone to damage. The normal fat layer under the skin starts to disappear, making it easier to develop pressure sores and to feel colder more quickly.

Skin becomes dryer, as oil glands do not function as well. This makes skin prone to sage, wrinkles, bruises and tears. It also becomes more sensitive to chemical irritants, soap, infection and poor hygiene.

Sweat glands decrease in activity and makes it harder for an elderly person to lower their body temperature in hot weather. Blood flow to the skin decreases and this makes it harder to heal skin injuries.

Bathing
Bathing can be hygienic and therapeutic experience, improving blood flow, easing discomfort and helping you to relax. Use a non-slip safety mat in the shower or tub to prevent falls. Use another non-slip mat in front of the tub. If necessary, use a shower bench or seat.

Aging causes skin to thin, therefore making it sensitive to higher temperatures, harsh soaps and irritation. Always be aware of water temperature and soaps you may use. Check water temperature and pressure before getting into the tub or shower. Never turn on hot water once you’re gotten in the shower.

Hair Hygiene
In addition to bathing, comb and brush your hair everyday to stimulate scalp circulation and distribute natural oils to the end of hair shafts. Hair should be washed on a regular basis once a week, at minimum. Use a mild, non-irrating shampoo.