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What to look for?

Personal Care/Hygiene | Common Signs

  • Does not wash or groom on a regular basis (e.g. shave, brush hair, brush teeth)
  • Does not remember to wash or groom without a verbal prompt will not wash or groom without a physical prompt (e.g. putting toothpaste on toothbrush)
  • Washes or grooms improperly or incompletely (e.g. food still on face after washing)
  • No longer applies make-up for daily wear or social events
  • No longer maintains regular appointments with hairdresser, dentist, podiatrist, etc
  • Does not change clothing regularly
  • Wears clothing that is dirty or soiled
  • Has a noticeable body odor
  • Looks unclean (e.g. dirty fingernails, greasy hair)
  • Looks disheveled or messy (e.g. unshaven, hair messed, no make-up)
  • Does not wipe self properly after toileting
Personal Care/Hygiene | General Description

When dementia begins to involve the frontal lobes, the result is that motivation becomes impaired. Typically in Alzheimer's disease , for example, but also in Lewy body dementia and vascular dementia, in the late mild to early moderate stages , the person you care for may need to be reminded to wash and groom themselves. Often they will require assistance with many aspects of grooming such as shaving or brushing their teeth. Sometimes the person you care for may actively resist grooming or refuse assistance. This may be due to the resentment of their declining independence and an attempt to preserve their own self respect. Alternatively, the person you care for may not realize that their physical appearance may be inappropriate or offensive to others. This is because their sense of self and their understanding of their relationships to others are both affected by the disease.

In Frontotemporal dementia , and with some types of vascular dementia, personal hygiene habits deteriorate early in the disease. Families notice that the person they care for first needs to be prompted with, and later fails to perform everyday tasks of bathing, grooming, and appropriate dressing.

The first step in taking a more active role in symptom management is understanding how a symptom is affecting everyday life; the next step is communicating this knowledge to the care planning team and family members. SymptomGuideTM is designed with these goals in mind.

See Also:
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Apraxia
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Self-Awareness
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Insight (Others/Environment)
Symptom Library > Personality Changes > Independence
About Dementia > Alzheimer's Disease > Motivation
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Last updated January 13, 2019
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