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Teeth, hair and nail care

Daily routines, such as brushing hair or teeth, can become tricky in later life. We show you how to make it easier, with tips on helping others wash their hair.
4 min read
In this article
Tooth care Hair care Nail care
Shaving

Tooth care

 

Good dental care is a very important part of staying healthy at any age, but the daily routine of teeth cleaning can become more difficult in later life. If you have dentures, these also need to be maintained properly for good oral hygiene.

Managing a toothbrush and toothpaste

Electric toothbrushes are very effective for teeth cleaning and require less effort than a normal brush, so if you find it an effort to look after your oral hygiene, switching to one could be a good move. Use the Which? Home & garden guide to buying the best electric toothbrush to help find the right one for you.

 

However, if you wish to continue with a manual brush but have difficulty holding the handle, a toothbrush with an angled head or larger grip handle could be a good alternative.

 

If lack of strength in your hands means that you find it hard to squeeze the toothpaste, there are tube squeezers that may be useful to you.

Going to the dentist

Regular visits to the dentist for a check-up are important as it’s always best to find and treat any dental problems as early as possible. The dentist will also be able to give more tailored advice and recommendations about dental products that you may find useful if your medical conditions have changed since the last visit.

 

You can find out about NHS dental services in your loved one’s area by visiting the NHS website.

Community dental services

The NHS runs a special service for people with disabilities or medical problems who find it difficult to get to the dentist. If you think this is something you would benefit from, talk to your dentist to see if you can get a referral to the community dental services in your area.

 

If you’re referred for the service, it means that a dentist will be able to come to you instead of the other way around. For example, to a nursing or care home if that’s where you live, a mobile clinic near the home or even make a home visit if necessary.

Hair care

Hair washing in the shower or bath

You may be able to wash your own hair if you’re still comfortable using a shower. If you struggle to raise your arms to massage the shampoo in, a long-handled hair massager will help. A shower seat can also be useful if you find it hard to stand for a long time.

 

It can be trickier to wash your hair if you only have a traditional bath. Adding a stool to sit on may mean you can wash your hair over the sink instead, or you can consider making adaptations to the bathroom, such as fitting a walk-in bath, which will make it easier.

 

Getting help to wash your hair

If you can’t manage to wash your hair independently, there are a number of pieces of equipment that can make it easier for you or someone else to help you wash your hair. 

  • Washing trays can be used by the sink: these allow your hair to be washed while you're leaning backwards, whichmeans you can sit down the whole time.
  • As a complement to showers, non-rinse shampoos make it possible to wash your hair without the need for any water. 
  • Inflatable shampoo basins can be used on the bed by a carer if you need to keep lying down while your hair is being washed.
  • For hair styling, you can get holders for hair dryers and longer handles for hairbrushes.

Nail care

Keeping fingernails and toenails clean and trimmed is an important part of a healthy grooming routine and can help you to feel confident in your appearance and sense of self.

 

However, small nail clippers can be fiddly and difficult to use if you have arthritis or other physical problems. The good news is that there are a number of products available to make nail care easier.

  • For lack of strength: nail clippers mounted on a base could help.
  • For lack of mobility: look for long-handled toenail clippers.
  • For restricted eyesight: choose nail clippers with magnifiers.

In addition to regular nail maintenance, you may appreciate the occasional professional manicure or pedicure which, as well as being an enjoyable experience, can also help to boost self-esteem.

Shaving

For many men, the regular shaving routine is a familiar and comforting one, and usually something you can continue well into later life if there are no physical problems.

 

Small adjustments to the routine can be helpful if you’re beginning to find shaving difficult, such as sitting down rather than standing and switching to an accessible or magnified mirror. If wet shaving is no longer possible, an electric razor is a good alternative.

 

It’s important to make sure the lighting in the room you choose to shave in is of the best quality. Lighting over the mirror is particularly helpful. Ideally, the light should be defused by a cover to minimise any glare and produce a lighting level of 200 lux. Our guide to safety around the home offers more tips about improving your home lighting.

Further reading

Bedroom safety

Find out about useful equipment to help you get into and out of bed, such as bed risers, bed rails and leg lifts, plus ...

Bath seats, boards and mats

Are you finding bathing or showering more of a challenge? You may find additional support useful, such as a bath board, ...

Choosing the right chair

We explain why it’s important to sit comfortably and be able to rise easily from a chair, especially as we get older ...

Last updated: 18 Sep 2018