Poor personal cleanliness can be a symptom of low self-esteem due to depression or other mental health problem, mobility limitations or lack of energy from interrupted sleep or a physiological problem such as a thyroid imbalance.
Poor dental care can also be a symptom of low self-esteem due to depression or other mental health problem. Or, an older adult may not be able to afford dental care, have transportation to get to dental appointments or could have problems gripping a toothbrush due to pain from arthritis or other ailment.
Dehydration is prevalent among older adults. The normal physiological triggers that prompt thirst lessen with age. Dehydration can lead to symptoms of dizziness and weakness, and may cause heart and other serious health problems if not addressed.
Poor personal hygiene can lead to skin and hair problems. Lack of dental care may result in an older adult not eating properly because of pain with chewing or lack of teeth to chew. A serious lack hygiene and/or dental care can lead to skin and gum sores, infections and chronic diseases that can develop from sores.
If an older adult is not keeping up with personal care, make a list of your concerns and address them with your older adult. Approach the issues as health concerns without being critical of your older adult. If this doesn’t help, make an appointment with a primary or geriatric physician and address the concerns with the doctor with your older adult present. A complete mental and physical health evaluation should be done. A doctor’s perspective may help your older adult realize the importance of these issues as they relate to health.
Older adults need to have a daily routine of personal hygiene and dental care, dress in clean, day clothes (not stay in bed clothes) and maintain a schedule of activities. Regular dental care check-ups should be scheduled and, at a minimum, older adults should have annual check-ups by a physician for preventive health care.