The cleanliness factor
At age 5, the night before my first day of school, I took my own bath. My mom trusted me to get clean everywhere. She knew cleanliness was—and still is—important to me.
When I moved to a nursing home more than 21 years ago, I was told I would get two showers a week and be washed up in between. I frequently felt grungy and itchy after a wash up. On my non-shower days, I really wanted one. Several weeks later, my skin erupted with reddened itchy spots. I was moved to daily showers, and the spots cleared up.
I enjoyed my showers. They relaxed my muscles and relieved my anxiety. But, of necessity, they did not last very long. Since many residents loudly refused to be bathed or showered, I thought the aides would be pleased that I did not need to be coaxed.
Manicures made easy
Here is a trick to get rid of dry skin and overgrown cuticles. At night, rub coconut oil into the hands and cuticles of residents. Gently push back the cuticle around each nail and towel off the excess with a gloved hand. Allow the remaining oil to absorb into skin overnight. The following morning, thoroughly wash residents’ nails underneath and around the cuticles. Blot the nails and cuticle area. Then, gently push the cuticles back around and under the nails. Dead skin under the nails and around the cuticles will be sloughed off without bleeding or soreness.
Aides at previous facilities told me I do nothing to get dirty. While I may not get into mud, I do perspire profusely when I sleep. Aides have commented in the morning about my damp skin and gown. During the day, I sit most of the time and perspire. Being cleaned up every day prevents odor and skin breakdown.
Some aides at my first facility said I was their cleanest resident. A few told me I was cleaner than they were. However, other aides said they themselves enjoyed being clean and would want to be clean if they lived in a facility.
I tried to shorten my wash up time by trying rinseless soap. Whether I used rinseless provided by the facility or brands I bought, they left a residue on my skin. I switched to a deodorant body wash that leaves no residue. My skin feels cleaner and needs little rinsing.
Since my late twenties, I have battled with eye infections because psoriasis pores on my head secrete more oil. If my face and eyes are not washed properly, facial blemishes and eye infections can result. To prevent them, my eyes are washed twice a day with baby shampoo. That soothes and cleans my eyes. However, facilities do not always have a tear free body wash that I can use, which is why I try to keep track of the baby shampoo I purchase.
Maybe someday, somebody will develop a wash up product for between showers that will clean, moisturize and hydrate the skin. Maybe it will leave my skin feeling clean and soft, not sticky. Maybe it will even be able to put an end to my flaky winter skin. Until then, I am thankful for showers three times a week and products that leave me feeling clean.
Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is an incomplete quadriplegic and uses a power wheelchair to get around. Her computer is her “window on the world.” This blog shares her thoughts and view of life as a nursing home resident as well as ideas of how it might be improved in the future.