Hair Care for Bedridden Individuals

Bedridden patient with grey hair
Most of us know someone who has at one time or another been ill and had to spend a significant amount of time with limited mobility and/or bedridden. The specific situations may vary – from broken bones and post-surgical situations, to long-term and terminal illnesses – but they always present a problem when it comes to grooming.
I, personally, have dealt with this particular situation often, having had a grandmother, sister, aunt and mother who were bedridden or similarly restricted in mobility at one time or another.
These experiences forced me to think of my profession in different ways. How do you properly care for an individual’s grooming needs (from an aesthetic as opposed to hygienic perspective) when the individual may not even be able to sit up unassisted?
Fortunately, there are some products available to help with certain situations, but even these are limited, and sometimes you need better alternatives. Our purpose here is to discuss some of the common issues you might face, and how to deal with them. I’ll give some basic tips for these common problems, and share a little of my personal experiences to hopefully, allow you to understand the restrictions and accommodations involved.
Preparation is Key:
The most important thing to consider when you need to assist in grooming someone who is bedridden is their specific limitations. Are they able to sit-up in a chair? How long can they sit in one place? If they can’t sit up, how mobile and adjustable is the bed in which they are lying? How much space do you have to maneuver around the person, and can he/she adjust to assist you in positioning?
Once you are familiar with the environment in which you must operate, you need to think of how what you need to do will affect the individual and how to prevent creating more problems for either you or the individual with whom you’re working.
For instance, if cutting the hair of someone who is bedridden, you need to make sure to have a means to confine or control the fall of the hair pieces that are cut away in order to prevent the hair fragments from getting down into the person’s clothing and bedding. Failure to do so can result in itch and irritations, and possible infections if the bits of hair penetrate delicate skin.
The other thing to remember as you plan and prepare is that it is more than likely that you will need to spend a lot more time to achieve the desired results than you would with a more convenient scenario. If you try to rush, you’ll just create more trouble for yourself. (The good news is that if you’ve been dealing with this type of situation for very long, you’ve already learned this lesson and are already thinking along these lines.)
So, with this in mind, in addition to addressing specific tasks, giving you specific tips and sharing personal experiences, I’ll let you know some extra preparation steps you can take to make this a much more successful endeavor.
The following articles cover some of the major situations for grooming an individual who is confined to bed or has limited ability to move about or sit up for prolonged periods. We’ve broken them down into specific tasks so that you can more readily find the information you desire:
How to Shampoo a Bedridden or Mobility-Impaired Individual
How to Cut Hair for an Individual who is Bedridden
How to Style the Hair of a Bedridden Individual
Photo: LightField Studios/Shutterstock