Safety concerns before you begin – is the elderly man on any blood thinners? If so you will want to use an electric razor. When using an electric razor – it should not be shared with other men for infection control reasons.

Assemble all of your equipment before you start getting the elderly man ready for the shave. Equipment you will need:
Razor – electric or safety razor (use the best/safest razor possible)
Shaving lather for safety razor or pre-shave lotion for electric razor
Towels – 2 small hand towels
1 large towel -to go under the man’s head and cover the pillow
Basin of warm water
After shave lotion

Procedure for shaving a bedridden elderly man: (encourage elder to participate as much as he is able to do)
Place all the assembled equipment on a bedside table close to elder
Raise the head of the bed so the elder is sitting up as much as possible.
Place the large towel under the elder’s head covering the bed pillow.
Place one hand towel over the elder’s chest.
Moisten face with warm water from basin with washcloth to soften beard. (heat, moisture and lather help to reduce surface tension and soften the beard)
Apply shaving lather (or pre-shave lotion)
Starting in front of elder’s ear, hold skin taunt with one hand, (during any part of the procedure if you are able to make the skin taunt you will get a closer shave) take razor and shave from ear down cheek towards chin.
Use firm, short strokes.
Shave in the direction of the hair growth.
Rinse safety razor in warm water after every stroke.
Repeat shaving cheek until all the shaving lather is removed.
Continue shave with other cheek.
Using short strokes, shave from under nose to lip.
Shave from under lips in downward strokes to chin in short strokes.
On the neck area the strokes go from the base of the neck -upward towards the chin. If the elderly man is able to put his head back this will help considerably in tightening up the skin and making it easier to shave.
Remove all remaining shaving lather with moist washcloth.
Apply after shave lotion.
If the man is nicked during shaving, applying pressure with a small piece of tissue will stop the bleeding. Several nicks will mean that you are not using the correct razor. Maybe the razor you are using is too inexpensive, look for a higher quality razor.

For shaving the elderly man with Alzheimer’s disease or another disease with agitated behaviors, please see blog:
January 22, 2009 – Assisting the Confused Elder with Alzheimer’s Disease to Shave

Virginia Garberding, R.N.
Director of Education, The Wealshire, Lincolnshire, Illinois
Author: Please Get To Know Me – Aging with Dignity and Relevance

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