I went home to help my 70-year old mother take care of my 91-year old grandmother, who’d been in a nursing home for a year and a half during COVID. Grandma Trudie was extremely debilitated and my Mom needed me to help her figure out how to provide basic care – including how to wash her hair. In this episode, which is part of a 3-part series on Alzheimer’s Care, I will give you 3 Tips for how to shampoo someone’s hair while sitting in a chair.
My Grandma Trudie has pretty significant seborrheic dermatitis on her scalp, which is a common skin condition that causes scaly red patches, red skin, and stubborn dandruff. Treatment for it involves using a certain type of shampoo to remove the buildup of dead skin with gentle removal of the dead skin a few times a week until it clears up.
On top of not being able to recline or having the setup of a beautician’s shop, she is also always cold – so we needed to wrap her up and make sure we didn’t get her wet (or make a mess!).
3 Tips to Shampoo Hair in Sitting in a Chair
✔️ Tip 1: Be organized and make sure that you have all of the equipment you will need.
Prepare a couple of towels and washcloths, and then have the special shampoo that you need to wash somebody’s hair with. We had a brush and then a comb that had two different layers to it, which would allow us to gently brush the dry skin off of her scalp and then comb it out of her hair.
✔️ Tip 2: How to Shampoo Hair in a Chair.
We didn’t need to run the water on her, because her hair is so thin that we could wet it with a washcloth. We added her medicated shampoo and used the brush to gently massage her scalp. Then we had her lean forward a little and I used my hand to guide the water into the bowl my Mom held below her while pouring water from the pitcher. Then we dried the hair and used the comb to get the dead skin off the scalp and hair.
✔️ Tip 3: Incorporating Play and Staying #Fancy.
Apparently my family and I like to play “peep eyes”quite a bit. While we were working on Grandma’s hair, my Mom played “peep eyes” with my Grandma as she was finishing drying off her face after we rinsed her hair.
The final product was a beautiful Grandma and Mama!
Remember that even though caregiving is stressful and presents some unique challenges to deal with, it is always important to remember to build in some fun and to be playful because those are the memories you’ll have forever that are good.
(You can check out the Part 1 and 3 episodes
exactly where you found this one.)
Part 1: 3 Tips to Transferring and Getting Dressed https://youtu.be/XztGYUbAy7Q
Part 3: 3 Tips for Eating and Drinking at Home
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I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (‘96) and Master of Science in Nursing (‘00) as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) School of Nursing (SON). I truly enjoy working with the complex medical needs of older adults. I worked full-time for five years as FNP in geriatric primary care across many long-term care settings (skilled nursing homes, assisted living, home and office visits) then transitioned into academic nursing in 2005, joining the faculty at UNCW SON as a lecturer.
I obtained my PhD in Nursing and a post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing (2011) ) and then joined the faculty at Duke University School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor. My family moved to northern Virginia in 2015 and led to me joining the faculty at George Washington University (GW) School of Nursing in 2018 as a (tenured) Associate Professor where I am also the Director of the GW Center for Aging, Health and Humanities.
Find out more about her work HERE.
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