Carol and Jim’s Story
Life changed forever when Jim was struck by a vehicle while cycling not far from his house. Once an active athlete, he was left severely injured by the accident and in need of round-the-clock care, which is given largely by his wife, Carol, a retired nurse. Each day, she guides Jim through a challenging routine that involves multiple sessions of physical therapy and personal grooming, including shaving. “If we don’t do what we do on a daily basis to help him move forward,” she says, “he’ll become more and more dependent.” Thanks to Jim’s unfailing determination to get better and Carol’s unwavering love for him, they make the best of each day. “We’ve lived life to the fullest, and we continue to live a good life. It’s just a different life.”
As you may know, caregiving often means assisting with personal care tasks like bathing and grooming. Figuring out the best way to provide such intimate care isn't easy. A task like shaving requires closeness and trust and, even in a positive caregiving relationship, maintaining dignity is a dance that sometimes feels awkward.
Here are 5 tips to help give you confidence and make your loved one’s bathing and grooming routine a little easier.
- Keep conversations natural. You know the man you love and what he likes to talk about. Use this time to connect. Give a family update or talk about a funny thing that happened – just keep it natural. Let him know what you’re doing or are about to do.
- Let him do what he can. Dependency is a tough transition for those who are used to being independent and now must rely on the care of others. Be sensitive to this and, while it may take longer to complete certain tasks, find ways that he can be involved. For example, let him lather his face with shaving cream. Let him rinse his face and pat it dry. If he has dementia, speak and move gently, explaining what you’re doing step-by-step so as not to startle him.
- Groom with care. Give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush tasks like shaving. The Gillette® TREO™ is the world’s first razor specifically designed to shave someone else. The unique blade helps protect his gentle skin and the ergonomic handle provides better control. The convenience of a built-in shave gel removes the need for water and can even be used for an aftershave. TREO allows you to confidently shave your loved one anywhere, even away from the sink. This will help make this small, but important part of his grooming routine just a little easier!
- Create a peaceful environment. Maybe you remember that he would listen to the radio in his bathroom. Why not do the same now, restoring the ritual that gave him comfort years ago? Make sure you have adequate lighting and that bathroom counter is free of clutter to help reduce accidents. Soft background music may soothe a person with dementia who becomes agitated by physical touch.
- Make it comfortable. If the person you're grooming needs to sit, have a chair in the bathroom or set up a cleansing station in whatever space is easiest for your loved one to navigate. Above all, be calm and confident in the care you give him – this takes some practice, but you’ll get there and he'll be grateful.
These tips provide a starting point. Adapt them to fit your caregiving situation and relationship. And if you notice any physical changes in your loved one as you assist in his daily care, be sure to talk to your doctor.
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