And why should you care about it as a caregiver?

In today’s post, I will share why perineal care for elderly adults is important and how to perform this care as a caregiver.

What is perineal care?

The perineal area or the perineum is the area of the body that surrounds a person’s genitals and anal area.

It is an area that is in the rough shape of a diamond.

Perineal care therefore refers to the care and cleaning of the area especially in people who are unable to do it for themselves.

If you have a loved one who is bedridden and or unable to perform most of their own daily care activities, perineal care is essential for them.

Why perineal care?

  • The genitals and anal area are both prone to infections mainly because this is where waste – feces and urine- pass through.
  • For a person who has an indwelling catheter, proper perineal care reduces the risk for infection.
  • Perineal care also protects the skin around the genitals and anus from breaking down. For bedridden loved ones, the risk of bedsores is high. Proper perineal care helps to keep that at bay.
  • Cleaning the perineum helps to keep your loved one comfortable.
  • For a person who is bedridden and who is unable to clean their own perineum, proper perineal care represents an opportunity for them to maintain their dignity.

How to perform perineal care

You can perform perineal care as a separate event or during bath time.

And you can use the commonest cleaning products -soap, water and a washcloth.

There are products that are marketed as “peri-wash” items. You can get these too. But they are not always necessary.

  • Make sure to wash your hands first before you start providing perineal care.
  • Wipe your hands and wear gloves.
  • Prepare your cleaning materials. You will need:
    • You will need a 1-2 washcloths (take more if you need it)
    • A container with warm water
    • Soap or a “peri-wash” product – don’t use too much soap as this can also kill the good bacteria that live in and around the perineum. You can combine the soap or wash with water to create a cleaning solution.
  • Provide your loved one with privacy during this time.
  • Explain to them you will be cleaning their perineum. If this is the first time you’re doing this, have the conversation and make sure they understand what will happen during this time. Understand that this may be embarrassing for them so make it as comfortable as possible.
  • Wet washcloth that has been with your warm wash solution.
  • For a woman, wipe from the front of the vagina and back towards the anus. This prevents the carryover of feces into the vaginal area.
  • For a man, wipe from the scrotum towards the anus. With men, you may need to lift up the penis and the skin around the scrotum to get a proper clean.
  • Use a second wet washcloth if you need to.
  • Use a dry washcloth to wipe the area of excess moisture.
  • Help them put clean underwear on.
  • If their sheets need to be changed, this is the best time to change the sheets so you don’t have to bother them for a while.
  • Make sure to wash your own hands after you are done with the cleaning.

After perineal care

During perineal care, it’s important to make sure you respect the dignity of the person.

Pay attention to them if they mention that something hurts and make sure you are performing care in the most comfortable way possible for them.

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