Nurses’ Notes – Practical, Helpful Tips for Caregivers

Part Two: Personal Grooming: Tips to help achieve successful outcomes

When persons’ with Dementia feel good about their appearance, they feel better about themselves, are more reassured and appear happier.

  1. Promote regular routines for grooming. However facial shaving, finger/toenail care and hair washing do not need to be done daily.
  1. Hairstyling and make-up
    1. Keep hairstyles short and simple for both women and men
    2. Arrange for appointments with familiar hairdressers and barbers whenever possible to avoid anxiety in new situations. Some service providers offer home visits. Weekly hairdresser appointments can help avoid resistance to washing hair in the bath or shower.
    3. Persons with Dementia may need regular reminders to comb or brush their hair in the early stages. However as the disease progresses persons may need assistance with the task by guiding his or her hand during the brushing/combing task.
    4. Application of make-up should be minimal and simple. Encourage women to continue to wear make-up if they always did and want to continue. Assist with the application of powder and lipstick. Try to avoid eye make-up if possible.
  1. Shaving for men
    1. Eliminate shaving with razor blades and introduce persons to electric razors that are much safer. Use pre shave lotion to soften the beard and avoid irritation.
    2. Be patient when first introducing the electric razor and explain everything you are doing.
    3. Provide a comfortable chair to make the experience with the electric razor easier and relaxing.
  1. Finger and toenail trimming and foot care
    1. Establish a regular routine for grooming nails and assist as needed.
    2. Regular manicures and pedicures promote relaxation and help maintain self-esteem.
    3. If person is diabetic, prone to infections or a slow healer, foot care by a Chiropodist, Podiatrist or Nurses who specialize in Foot Care is preferred. Home visits can be arranged.
    4. Always ensure that feet are kept clean and dry.
    5. Check feet regularly for pressure sores and irritation from poor fitting shoes, discolouration, bruising, swelling, open sores, blisters etc.
    6. Keep feet warm at night by having person wear socks with treads. These types of socks provide warmth and prevent slipping and falling when up walking.
  1. Eye Care
    1. Persons with Dementia should always wear their glasses when awake to help make mobility safer.
    2. Always place eyeglasses in the same place when not in use
    3. Keep the lenses clean to increase visibility
    4. Arrange regular eye check-ups to ensure lenses prescriptions are maximized and to prevent and/or treat glaucoma and cataracts.

Baycrest: Dementia: A Caregiver’s Guide
Family Caregiver Alliance 2012
National Institute on Aging

Photo of Rosalee Berlin

Rosalee Berlin

Rosalee is a Geriatric Nurse Consultant, who was a teacher since 1982, working at Baycrest for 13 years. See Rosalee’s full bio on our team page.