Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate: Dr. Cynthia Speaks!

Topic: Scalp Massages & Hair Washing of Care Recipients

I’m still blogging while on vacation in Toledo, Ohio. Even on vacation, there are opportunities to impact the elderly. I have been very intentional on this vacation. I know caring for aging parents invites many new challenges. Learning how to manage the care of an elderly loved one can offer unique experiences every day. Some situations must be addressed when they present themselves. This is what I am sharing in this conversation. Learning new practices is a constant. Here is one example. Washing hair in the bathroom can be challenging, especially if mobility and energy conservation are warranted.

My cousin is caring for her mother, who is on home hospice. I got a chance to visit and spend time with them. Her mother enjoyed my presence and sat on the side of her bed as we exchanged hugs and conversation in her soft voice. As she sat up, I noted her full head of beautiful grayish-black hair. It was so full and fluffy that I could not help myself. I began to massage her scalp with my fingertips. Her shoulders relaxed, her facial expression changed, and I could tell how much she was taking it all in. She described how good it felt and did not want me to stop. Cousin mentioned she needed to wash her mother’s hair, but it takes too much energy out of her mother to get her into the bathroom to do it. So, what did I do? I offered to wash her hair and demonstrate how to do it at the bedside.

There are ways to wash hair when it is difficult to do it the old fashion way… in the bathroom. This may sound elementary, but the truth is, we are people of habit, so adjusting to new practices is not always a strong suit. One thing about caregiving, you must become lifelong learners. There will always be something new to challenge the caregiving enterprise.

I shared with her that there are waterless hair washing caps that you put into the microwave (caution…please manage temperature before use). The shampoo cap is a one-stop answer for cleaning and conditioning hair. They are game changers when loved ones can’t get out of bed or are challenged due to energy constraints. In-bed hair wash system is another option. It is made of hard plastic, which I do not like because it can be very uncomfortable. Both options can be purchased at an array of locations, including medical equipment companies.

As Your Proactive Caregiver Advocate, I am on a mission to help others become proactive in the caregiving space. The less reactive we are, the more ground we can travel in the caregiver’s landscape. Be safe! Be well!



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Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman

Dr. Cynthia J. Hickman


Dr. Hickman is the author of From the Lens of Daughter, Nurse, and Caregiver: A Journey of Duty and Honor and The Black Book of Important for Caregivers.