Washing hair and using the toilet

Helping someone with dementia to wash their hair and use the toilet.

Washing hair

Most people like having their hair washed regularly. While many people enjoy the feeling of having their hair washed and feel better when it is done, others don't enjoy it at all. If this is the case, balance the advantages of clean hair against the disadvantages of creating tension between you and the person you are caring for.

Washing someone's hair: tips for carers

  • If you are washing the person's hair yourself, a hand-held shower may work best.
  • Think about using a shampoo which will not cause stinging if it gets into the person's eyes, or using a hair wash shield to prevent water running onto the person's face. Alternative options include a 'no rinse' shampoo that can clean the hair without using water, or dry shampoos.
  • If the person prefers to have their hair washed by a hairdresser, either arrange regular trips to the salon or find a hairdresser who will come to the house. This may be a time when you can have your hair cut too.
  • Be mindful of the person's post-washing routine. Respect their preference for certain haircare products (shampoo, conditioner, hairspray etc), make-up and perfume.
Buy no-rinse shampoo in the Alzheimer's Society shop

Try to ensure that the person wipes themselves properly after using the toilet, or help them to do so if this feels appropriate. This will depend on your relationship with the person and the amount of support they need.

Tips for toilet hygiene

  • Wiping from front to back, rather than back to front, helps to prevent infection.
  • Moist toilet tissues, available from most chemists and supermarkets, can clean more effectively than dry toilet paper, and can also be useful to keep around in case the person has an accident.
Read more about toilet problems and incontinence

As dementia progresses people may find it harder to use the toilet and may experience accidents or incontinence.  Find out how to support them.

Toilet problems
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Further reading