A poor level of personal hygiene is a sign that someone is not taking care of their bodily needs or that a caretaker neglects to provide much-needed care. Good hygiene practices include showering, brushing your hair, changing clothes, brushing your teeth, and staying clean.
Bad hygiene can also be a symptom of nursing home neglect, so it is important to rule out any possible cause. There are signs of poor hygiene that you can observe in other people. If you see any of these signs of poor hygiene, it could be important to investigate the situation further. It is possible that someone that you know is not receiving the care that they need, or is no longer capable of providing care on their own. A single sign of poor hygiene does not necessarily mean that someone needs to have live-in care provided for them. However, having multiple signs on this list to warrant a further conversation.
Hair that is unbrushed, frizzy, or greasy is a sign of poor hygiene. Hair is one of the things that caregivers try to focus on to the point where many facilities have barbershops and hair salons on site. It is also a part of maintaining seniors’ mental and emotional health. Helping them maintain a positive appearance can help seniors feel better and be more mentally and emotionally resistant to stress. Caregivers that are focusing on seniors’ needs are not likely to avoid taking care of their hair.
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Body odor is an immediate sign of bad hygiene. It is possible to have a distinct odor even with proper hygiene, but it is unlikely. Seniors often need assistance in managing their bodily hygiene due to low flexibility and an inability to do so safely. If a senior is receiving adequate care from a caregiver, it is unlikely that he or she will have an odor.
Dirty Clothes or Diapers
Sometimes it can be difficult to encourage seniors with dementia to change clothes. However, no matter how challenging it can be, caregivers still need to make sure that seniors wear clean clothing. For seniors that rely on adult diapers for toileting, sitting too long in a soiled diaper that needs to be changed can cause a rash. If you smell the odor of a soiled diaper while visiting a loved one residing in a nursing home, it is important to ensure that caregivers are changing residence often enough. Verify with staff members about the protocol. Are residents required to notify staff when they need caregiving services or is it provided on set intervals?
Plaque and Tartar
Visible signs of plaque and tartar are indicative of poor dental hygiene. It is too easy to overlook the impact and relationship between oral health and overall wellness. However, research shows that some conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes can be linked. Bacteria that exists in the mouth can travel through bloodstreams. Teeth should be brushed twice a day, even when seniors are unable to do so themselves. In nursing homes, visiting dentists might be able to provide dental care for residents without requiring them to stop by the office for a visit. This can be an effective way to keep teeth healthy, even when managing other health concerns.
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Underneath a person’s nails can become dirty, especially after gardening, arts and crafts, or cooking. Consistently dirty nails can be an indicator of inadequate handwashing or care. A lot of bacteria can live under someone’s nails. It can build up and transfer onto other services, including food. Special tools can be purchased affordably to remove dirt and grime from someone’s nails to keep them clear. Even if you cannot see black dirt underneath someone’s nails, it does not mean that it is clean. Nails can frequently harbor bacteria and require special care to keep sanitary.
Frequent Illness or Infections
Having infections or illnesses every so often as a senior citizen can be considered common. However, the history of frequent illnesses or infections can be a signal that something is wrong. Proper hygiene can protect a person from illnesses. Without it, there is an increased risk that an infection will develop. In high-risk populations, such as seniors, severe illness or infection could be devastating to the person’s health. For seniors living in nursing homes who are unable to provide their own care, frequent infections and illnesses could be a sign of neglect.
Discuss Liability for Poor Hygiene in a Nursing Home
If your loved one lives in a nursing home and shows signs of poor hygiene, it is important to get to the cause of what is happening quickly. If you have questions about poor hygiene and neglect from a legal standpoint, call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 201-3999. You can discuss your concerns with a member of our team at no cost to you.