14. Washing Hair

If the person is able to wash his/her own hair, it is okay if the person would like to do it for himself/herself.

How often to wash

Ask the person if they would like to wash their hair. Pay attention to the how the hair looks, how it smells, and if it seems dirty. If you see redness, a lot of dandruff or have concerns about lice, report this to your supervisor.

If the person does not like having the hair washed, once every week or every two weeks is okay. Brush or comb the hair daily.

Dry shampoo can be used in between.

Sitting the Bathtub

Have plenty of clean, dry towels available. Use a cup or shower hose to direct the water away from the face. Many people do not like water in the face. Water in the face may be more upsetting for anyone who is not healthy, has dementia, Alzheimer's disease or a cognitive deficit. Make sure you test the water temperature first and rinse the hair.  Shampoo the hair and rinse.  Dry the hair with the towels. Comb or brush the hair.

Standing in the shower

If the person you're caring for is able to stand in the shower, make sure the person is steady and is able to stand long enough to shampoo the hair. The person needs good balance to do this. If the person is not steady, offer to help and make sure a tub chair or a shower chair is available. Do not leave the person alone.

Sitting at the sink

If the person does not want to have her/his hair washed in the tub or shower, you can ask if the bathroom or kitchen sink would be okay. Bring the supplies to the sink.  You should have either a kitchen hose or a cup. You will need shampoo and plenty of towels.

The person can either face toward the sink and lean the head forward over the sink or sit facing away from the sink and lean the head back over the sink. Leaning back is the best way to keep water out of the person’s face. Make sure you test the water for temperature. Rinse the hair with a cup of water or a small sink hose, shampoo and rinse. Cushion the neck well with towels. Dry the hair well with towels to prevent a lot of water dripping on the floor.  Comb or brush the hair.  Wipe up water that has dripped on the floor.