Dementia has significant impacts on a person’s cognitive abilities, including their ability to properly manage their own personal hygiene. Research from the National Institute on Aging describes the unique relationship between personal hygiene and dementia. If a loved one shows signs of poor hygiene and signs of dementia and other cognitive declines, having them assessed by their doctor for dementia may provide a way to proactively manage their care.
Signs of Poor Hygiene
Poor personal hygiene can vary based on the person. Generally, it refers to the lack of basic bodily care, which can include:
- Messy hair: Messy, unbrushed, or unwashed hair may signal neglect on the part of a caregiver.
- Infections: Frequent infections may show that someone is not getting the personal care that they need in terms of hygiene. Infrequent showers, handwashing, and a bacteria-filled environment can lead to an increased risk for infections.
- Illnesses: Much like infections, seniors may suffer from frequent illnesses because of their personal hygiene.
- Body odor: Without showering and brushing your teeth, a noticeable body odor can develop. You should not smell sweat, urine, or other smells from a loved one sitting nearby.
- Soiled clothes: Wearing soiled clothes offers another sign of poor personal hygiene. For seniors, forgetting to change their clothes or resisting someone helping them may signal dementia.
- Dirty adult diapers: Many seniors suffer from incontinence and may not make it to the bathroom in time, so adult diapers may provide an option to address this problem. To prevent infections and to keep the person comfortable, caretakers must change the diapers often.
- Tooth decay: Regular tooth brushing and flossing keep teeth free from decay. If you can see visible signs of tooth decay, your loved one may not have an effective oral health routine in place. If your loved one lives as a resident of a senior living facility, they may need more help than they are getting to keep up with their oral health.
This list only provides some examples of poor hygiene. For seniors living in nursing homes or memory care facilities, poor hygiene may be a sign of dementia or a similar illness. This can also indicate that your loved one is not receiving the level of care that they need.
Poor hygiene can signal the onset or presence of dementia. Patients suffering from dementia may refuse to bathe or change their clothes when appropriate. Some additional dementia symptoms include having trouble remembering recent events, confusion, trouble concentrating, depression or apathy, behavioral changes, and the inability to do everyday tasks. They may even face some difficulty solving everyday problems. In fact, wandering classifies as a behavior that some dementia patients experience when they remember that they need to do something, such as go to the bathroom. They may even experience a slip and fall accident without supervision.
Nursing Home Responsibilities
Nursing homes maintain an obligation to residents to keep them safe. This includes safety from the dangers of poor personal hygiene. Staff members should check on residents regularly to ensure that they meet resident hygiene needs. This can include help with bathing, using the restroom, and changing their clothes regularly.
Complications from Poor Hygiene
The complications for poor hygiene go beyond simply having a body odor or looking disheveled. Some more serious complications include:
- Athlete’s foot
- Dangerous infections
These represent just some of the possible complications from poor hygiene. Other types of complications can occur. Depending on the length of time of the hygiene issues, more serious issues can appear.
Seeking Legal Recourse
You have a right to seek legal recourse if your loved one suffers a medical illness or injury due to a caregiver’s failure to maintain their personal hygiene at a nursing home. Taking legal action may stop the neglect from impacting other patients, and help your loved one receive compensation related to their injuries. A nursing home neglect lawyer may answer any questions that you have about the process, and you may proceed with an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.
Contact a Nursing Home Lawyer to Discuss Poor Hygiene
If you have concerns about a loved one’s poor hygiene while they receive care for dementia in a nursing home or assisted living community, you can call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to discuss your concerns. We may help you to identify your next steps, including investigating potential neglect and filing a nursing home abuse lawsuit.