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Bathing & Grooming

Parkinson’s disease (PD) can make basic daily living activities such as bathing, toileting, personal hygiene and grooming challenging. Take precautions and take your time to ease bathing and grooming. The following tips will help make these activities easier, keeping you safe.

Bathing

  • Install handrails. Bathtubs and shower stalls should have at least two handrails to hold onto as you get in and out. These should be professionally installed when possible. Never use towel bars, soap dishes or faucets as handrails.
  • Lower your hot water temperature to less than 120 degrees.
  • Place non-skid rubber bath mats in all bathtubs and shower stalls.
  • Install a tub rail for support and safety when getting in and out of the tub if you do not have access to a shower and use a tub for bathing.
  • Use a handheld showerhead if you sit on a tub transfer bench or shower chair while showering.
  • Use rubber-backed bathroom rugs. Try kitchen rugs instead of bath rugs, as they tend to be thinner.
  • Wash with pump soap instead of bar soap, which is hard to hold and can leave a dangerous, slippery film on the floor.
  • Install a shelf in the tub or shower area so you do not have to bend to pick up items. Shelving works best when items can be stored between the level of the shoulders and knees.
  • Make sure you can call for help if needed. Always have a cell phone or medical alert device with you.

Grooming

PD-related rigidity and tremor may make it difficult to handle toothbrushes, razors and hair dryers. These tips may help:

  • Sit down to brush your teeth, shave or blow dry your hair. This will help prevent falls and conserve energy.
  • Prop your elbows on the vanity or sink when you shave, comb your hair or use a hairdryer, especially if your shoulders or arms easily tire.
  • Use an electric razor.
  • Purchase an electric toothbrush.
  • Use a hands-free hairdryer that can be mounted on a vanity.
  • Work with an occupational therapist to make these tasks easier.

Toileting and Incontinence

Scheduling fluid intake and bathroom breaks are a few ways to simplify things.

  • Use an elevated toilet seat or install a sturdy toilet frame to offer stability and get up safely with less effort. Getting off the toilet may be difficult for those without adequate leg strength.
  • Try a regular schedule for going to the bathroom, such as every two hours.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and cola, which may worsen problems.
  • Limit evening fluids two hours before bedtime if getting up at night to use the bathroom is problem.
  • Keep a nightlight on in the bathroom in case you have to use the bathroom at night.
  • Try to double void: wait a few minutes on the toilet after you have gone. Try going again to make sure your bladder is completely emptied.
  • Consider using an incontinence product such as a pad or shield to help if you are prone to accidents. You can find these products at your local drug store.
  • Know the signs of a urinary tract infection: frequent and urgent urination with burning pain. If you experience these symptoms, call your health care provider.
  • Seek the advice of a urologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the urinary tract and the male reproductive system.

As PD advances, these tasks might become increasingly difficult to perform, even if you follow the tips. For information on bathroom issues related to advanced Parkinson's, check out our these videos with more information on this topic:

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