Monday, December 2, 2013

Being a Cut-Up

Dad lets me give him a haircut at home.
Photo by Karl. D. Stephan
SpongeDad Haircut, or Getting More Than He Thought!

Dad loves personal attention (who doesn't?) and he is a bit of a tightwad when it comes to barbers. He is still shocked that a professional haircut costs more than $2.50, so if we visit Rudy the Barber, it's always my treat. 

My sister cuts her husband's hair, and for a while, she trimmed Dad too. So she showed me the electric clippers that they had - there were about four sets at Dad's house - I thought I'd give it a try and see how it went. My first challenge was his dirty hair. Like many folks with dementia, Dad isn't fond of baths or showers. But there are dry shampoos available, which just spray on, and those do a good enough job. 

I summoned my courage and told Dad I was setting up my Home Barbershop. His quick reply was, "Why don't ya just take me to the barbershop and let them work on me?" When he understood that they didn't do shampoos there, he agreed to be my client. He shucked off his shirt - a ritual in itself - and sat down so I could drape a towel over his shoulders. I warned him about how cold the spray-on shampoo would be, and off we went.

The dry shampoo leaves a deposit of cornstarch powder, but that makes it easy to trim his neck with the electric clippers. Once I had a base trim started, I brushed away the powder and picked up the scissors and comb. Now I have very little experience in cutting hair, so I go very, very slowly. Like, this one hair cut can take an hour. Over several years, I've learned to layer in a fairly reasonable way, so Dad doesn't look like he had a bowl thrown on his head and a razor run around the edges. He likes to look good, and I'd swear when he looks in the mirror and combs his hair, he does it as carefully as he did when he was 17 and competing for dates with young ladies. 

After some time, I was less happy with that dry shampoo, so I tried whipping up some foamy shampoo and washing his hair that way. That got his hair, head, shoulders, and collarbones very clean, especially during the rinse cycle. Rinsing was accomplished by pouring warm water over him and hoping for the best. At first, I felt bad about drowning his undershirt and I always got him a clean one.

Then the light dawned: I had a new opportunity here, for a sponge bath! As long as Dad would cooperate, I would routinely wet him down and sponge him off. This way, he got at least an upper body "bath" as well as a trim, clean undershirt, and new shirt. The combination of all these attentions resulted in good stuff for both of us. Dad came out feeling better, and smelling better. I came out with a sense of accomplishment and a new solution. Thus, SpongeDad Haircut!

1 comment:

  1. I'm sorry to see you leave and the breast cancer site, but so glad that you're blogging about your experiences with dementia and caregiving. My mom is also in her 80's and her sister had dementia. This seems like a site where I can learn more about this disease. Thanks for all the work you did on About. It meant a lot to me as I recovered-now 8 years from diagnosis of stage 2b.


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