Senior Hair Washing

Tips to Wash an Older Adult's Hair
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To help an older adult manage hair care, here's the long and short of what you need to know:

How often does hair really need to be washed?

Less often than you might think. Although daily washing of the face and hands are important for hygiene, once or twice a week is usually sufficient for hair. In fact, the natural oils and skin cells that accumulate actually serve to moisturize the skull. Many people with thick or curly hair find that it holds the oils especially well and becomes easier to style. In the 1950s, most American women had only a weekly shampoo and styling at a salon.

What's the best place to wash hair?

Many caregivers prefer to handle the chore during bathing, but some older adults find it less stressful to have their hair washed at a separate time, while fully clothed.

Are there any shortcuts that make hair-care easier?

  • Try so-called "dry shampoo." It uses powder to absorb some of the natural oils that accumulate on unwashed hair. You apply the powder, then brush or blot it out. Some people swear by baking soda, baby powder, and cornstarch (mixed together or used separately) as an inexpensive alternative.

  • Go short. For someone who has difficulty with mobility, an easy-care, no-style short haircut may be simplest, and it will feel comfortable with less frequent shampooing.

  • Ask if a stylist will come to your home. Many make house calls for shampooing, cuts, permanents, and/or styling. A standing monthly appointment can become a real treat for your loved one to look forward to.


over 3 years ago, said...

67 year old male with long, fine hair has a time-consuming, hair losing washing with organic shampoo and conditioner in water. Upon seeing in the sugges- ted "Dry shampoo" options. Baking soda and i have been 'friends' since the 70's on my teeth. Fresh squeezed O.J. means no-grayhair. Now it's gonna be dry hair 'wash' with that great 'friend'...Baking Soda.


over 3 years ago, said...

I am 71 and have lovely silver hair, naturally curly and not dyed. I am finding that it becomes brittle and dull when I wash it too often. I used to wash it every day; but because the hair oils have diminished, now it works best simply washing it every other day.


over 3 years ago, said...

I have found that my hair and scalp does better the less I wash it. I usually wash it about every 5-6 days. Have even found that showering does not have to be done daily, as long as underclothes, socks and outer wear are changed daily. My skin is happier. When it gets above 85 during the day, though, I will have to shower daily....


over 3 years ago, said...

VERY INTERESTING! NICE TO KNOW HOW TO CARE FOR ELDERLY PEOPLE!


over 4 years ago, said...

Aloe Vesta no-rinse foam! For sale on Amazon. One bottle lasts a long time. Foam, puffed onto a hot, wet, facecloth washes the scalp gently and thoroughly, then is rubbed dry with a clean towel. It leaves the hair full, clean and shiny. It's also meant for use on the face and all parts of the body. Used between showers, I find it easy and pleasant with no anxiety about residue to irritate the skin.


over 4 years ago, said...

Question. Whether shampooing 2 week, 1 week or few days apart, 91 yr old M-I-L gets dry flaky skin in front of ears slighty higher like sides of temples, where sideburn hair grows from, like dandruff. I tried applying a little sweet oil to the area, but it seems like if I do then I have to give her a shampooing by the next day because of the oil. Is this problem caused by the oxygen nasal cannula that comes across the cheeks and goes over the ears? Been on O2 for 10 years, but problem occurs intermittently, not continually. Maybe from changing types of cannulas?


over 4 years ago, said...

I was looking to see if I could find solution different from what I already knew. This is just the things I have heard or read before. Thanks!


over 4 years ago, said...

I AM ILL WITH A DEGENERATIVE, AND AUTOIMMUNE DISORDER. SOMETIMES I CANNOT BATHE FOR WEEKS, MY HAIR IS PARTICULARLY OFFENSIVE TO ME AFTER ONE WEEK. I AM GLAD TO KNOW ABOUT THE POWDERS, REMEMBERING THEY WERE AROUND WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER.


over 4 years ago, said...

As I just read all the postings I realized right or wrong only applies to what works for each person in the situation they are dealing with. If it works it's right, if it doesn't it's wrong. My mother really doesn't care how often her hair is washed, she is 73 with severe COPD, she cares if she can breath. Truth is she often doesn't smell clean, but this is the way it is, so we get to it when she feels she can do it. What is the priority, is the question I ask myself when I feel frustrated. Life as it is, not as I would wish for it to be, is what I have to remind myself!


over 4 years ago, said...

I recently washed my mothers hair and when she realized I had put conditioner on her hair not shampoo for another washing she was beside herself upset. I told her ONE good scrubbing with shampoo was all that was necessary. She said her hair was not clean.... it needed 2 washings! I read many years ago that washing your hair twice as the Shampoo manufacturers suggest on their bottles only serves to dry out your hair and causes you to have to purchase shampoo twice as fast! One washing is sufficient and two really serves no purpose. I wonder if this is true or does it even matter one way or the other?


over 4 years ago, said...

Mine getz washed about every 6-8 months, whether it needs it or not!!! It costs $5 @ the salon and it only takes her five minutes... I just cut 27" off and it feels a whole lotz cooler..


over 4 years ago, said...

I have found that the less it is washed the less often it needs to be washed. Mom's hair isn't washed more often than every week, sometimes two weeks between. i usually wash according to scheduled out of the house activities. Do not go over two weeks though. It still looks good and I have not noticed an oder. BTW, none of my Mom's friends have their hair done more often than once a week.


over 4 years ago, said...

yes.


over 4 years ago, said...

My mom has very long, thin hair, worn up in a bun, covered by a prayer cap. She is 90 and as far as I know, her hair hasn't been cut since she was 14 years old! Cutting it short is NOT an option. I wash it in the shower, as it is easier than using the sink. However, it is such a big job, I only wash it once a week and sometimes it goes two weeks between washings. She is in stage 6-7 of Alzheimer's. I figure that "dirty" hair is not life-threatening so I don't stress out about it if it doesn't happen every week. Eventually, I will try taking her to a hair salon (just to have it washed): right now she would think I wanted to have her hair cut off!


over 4 years ago, said...

just by knowing when to do it. Thanks


over 4 years ago, said...

It cemented my thoughts about the necessity of daily washing. My mom is 88 yo, goes to the hairdresser when she wants (we drive her there and pick her up), and promptly snoozes while the hairdresser does her work. We actually convinced mom to get her hair "cut" not just trimmed and it is so much easier to tend on a daily basis. The woman has a gorgeous head of hair. Also, she has never smelled 'musty' in between hair appts.


over 4 years ago, said...

Yeah, but what about that musty smell after a day or two? Years ago ladies who went to the salon each week to have their hair done had so much spray to hold their styles in place it "sealed in" any musty smells.


over 4 years ago, said...

Just the fact that one does not have to wash hair all that often