3 Ways to Ease Awkward Feelings About Personal Care

Caregiving is often an intimate business -- and the awkwardness about helping with personal care affects both sides: the helper and the helped.

You can help your loved one feel less embarrassed about being dependent during bathing, dressing, and toileting by trying tactics like the following. Bonus: They'll help lessen your uncomfortable feelings, too.

1. Put the situation in perspective.

A caregiving adult child, for example, can remind a parent, "Just think about all those years you did these things for me." A spouse can invoke the "for better or worse" clause, reminding his or her mate that a partnership is meant to include these moments, too.

2. Give your loved one a little space to try.

Even if you know the person can't manage a particular task without help, let him or her try, if an interest to do so is expressed. It can sometimes provide a measure of dignity -- and a lessened feeling of complete helplessness -- for a dependent person to at least make the attempt rather than having you rush in and do everything for him or her. Then when the struggle becomes obvious, you can gently say something like, "Here, let me help." Or, "Almost . . . try this."

3. Make a joke.

Poke fun at a pair of absorbent underwear, the temperature of the water, the stubbornness of a sleeve that won't go on. Humor is not only distracting; it helps change the tone.


over 3 years ago, said...

Yes, my aging mother responds to these tactics very well!


over 3 years ago, said...

Good tips. Humor is so important and when you're stressed, sometimes you forget that. It is a life preserver and sanity saver :). Caregiving is so stressful along with the other demands we are juggling: Financial problems, family obligations, jobs and our own health problems. With all that on our plates, we will surely lose our minds without humor.


over 3 years ago, said...

Thanks Magster -- we're glad to hear that you've found this website helpful. And we're also sorry for the frustration that the incorrect link caused others.


over 3 years ago, said...

Wow...such rude comments. There is an incredible (almost overwhelming) array of information on this website. Ok...the link was wrong - get over it. Lots of other things to worry about when caregiving. I love this website and couldn't have made it this far taking care of my mom who has dementia. Keep up the good work!


over 3 years ago, said...

Hello Everyone, For those who are looking for the article, "Clean Where it Counts Surfaces for a Clean House " you can find it at: http://www.caring.com/articles/clean-where-it-counts-3-surfaces We are sorry for the inconvenience and frustration from the incorrect link shared in this week's Caring.com Suggests e-newsletter.


over 3 years ago, said...

#2 HUH? and why is it that many have comments about personal hygiene (as if it were the correct link) & others are alert enough to know THIS IS YET ANOTHER LINK THAT DOESN'T WORK)


over 3 years ago, said...

Uh...what were the 3 surfaces not to miss when housecleaning?


over 3 years ago, said...

I thought this was going to be an article about housecleaning.


over 3 years ago, said...

I would add being matter of fact and relaxed about it, not making eye contact if the person is uncomfortable. Sometimes just looking away gives the person a sense of privacy, even if in a small way. In the case of bathing, I always laid a small towel over breasts and bottoms... person get


over 3 years ago, said...

My husband and I try to put as much humor into his helpful hands as possible. My dependency is not only humiliating for my mental state but frustrating for me as an adult. After 44 years of marriage, we are still finding humor in some really big health problems!


over 3 years ago, said...

Every little helpful comment is appreciated. We don't feel so alone. 😌


over 3 years ago, said...

While I understand the comments below, some really don't answer the question as to what House Cleaning tips have to do with Personal care giving other than helping your loved one which IS a fine thing. My questions were addressed to Caring.com and I don't see where they have been addressed by the website other than to post others' personal opinions. Was the title of the article "Housecleaning Shortcuts: 3 Surfaces that Matter" merely a lead into the article "3 Ways to Ease Awkward Feelings About Personal Care", OR was it an error? While I appreciate people's opinions, I was just looking for an answer from caring.com website who posted the two titles that seem to be discussing two separate things. I don't believe that is an unreasonable request that should elicit implied sarcasm. It is merely a request for clarification


over 3 years ago, said...

I guess I'll find the three surfaces somehow.


over 3 years ago, said...

The straight forward approach coupled with great sensitivity and compassion towards the person requiring help. You people are so wonderful!!! God Bless You Always!!! Thank you very much for your insight and advise.


over 3 years ago, said...

What in the world does this have to do with HOUSE CLEANING!!!


over 3 years ago, said...

How the situation is handled is entirely dependent on the person and the handler - if given a little thought, most everything can be worked out to everyone's mutal satisfaction.


over 3 years ago, said...

I agree with all the above statements. I was interested in the housecleaning shortcuts, but instead was directed to places that care for loved ones. Does the term 'Bait & Switch' ring a bell.


over 3 years ago, said...

shall I delete these emails....they are misleading and wasting my time.


over 3 years ago, said...

It has nothing to do with House Cleaning Shortcuts... 3 surfaces not to miss.


over 3 years ago, said...

Too devious by half. Credibility has been hammered!


over 3 years ago, said...

Wrong body copy for this article


over 3 years ago, said...

When I click on "House Cleaning Shortcuts: 3 Surfaces that Matter", I get directed to an article titled "3 Ways to Ease Awkward Feeling About Personal Care." Is this an error? What does one subject have to do with the other? House Cleaning is house cleaning. Personal Care is personal care. The title of what I thought I was going to get information on doesn't make sense with the link I was directed to


over 3 years ago, said...

I clicked to see an article on cleaning, but got one on how to bathe a parent.


over 3 years ago, said...

As I look forward to my impending old age/always potential dependency, I want my caregivers to be comfortable. If I am fortunate enough to maintain my physical and mental health to care for others in the future, I want to be prepared. Right now I am still a working mom with grown (and almost out of college) kids, no grandkids. Dont know where I might wind up.


over 3 years ago, said...

This article was supposed to be about cleaning but when I clicked on the link it was about intimate care.


over 3 years ago, said...

I have recently turned from the helper to the helpee. It happened faster than I thought at my age. Making a joke about certain things does help to ease tension, and putting things in perspective is good too. I live in an ALF so my situation may be different. I have no relatives to take care of me. Also, wearing gloves makes me feel better than if the aides didn't wear them. They let me try to do certain things myself so they/I know what I really am able to do. I love the aides I have, they are like family to me.


over 3 years ago, said...

First of all, the topic should be INTIMATE, not personal, care. Combing my hair is personal, but cleaning/washing my private areas is intimate care. Putting the situation in perspective is relevant, but 'giving your loved one a little space to try' and 'mak(ing) a joke are simply tacky.


over 3 years ago, said...

Makes helper aware that this is uncomfortable territory for us too. Always been the helper entire life, the tables turned completely and very rapidly. Adjustment has been difficult for both.


over 4 years ago, said...

A joke is fine, poking fun at absorbent underwear, is not funny and often humiliating. Adult disposable underwear is a Godsend, also a fact of life, but it is never funny. Not to the person disposing of it and especially not to the person wearing it. Thank you to reliantrobin for the suggestion of wearing gloves for the sensitive areas - that's an excellent idea.