For many of us, grooming and nail care are activities we often do mindlessly. However, today we're diving deep into the world of grooming, not as mundane tasks but as meaningful activities that have long been overlooked for their inherent value, especially for individuals living with dementia.

What Does Grooming Encompass?

Grooming covers a vast range of activities, from the basics of brushing our teeth and washing our faces, to putting on makeup and shaving. Beyond the obvious aesthetics and hygiene, these activities play a pivotal role in maintaining our daily routines, promoting cognitive stimulation, and upholding our self-esteem.

The Benefits of Grooming:

Cognitive Stimulation: Grooming tasks require attention and can stimulate the brain. This helps maintain cognitive functions and engages retained abilities.

Physical Well-being: Activities like combing your hair or shaving can enhance one's range of motion, strength, and coordination.

Social Interaction: When done in groups or with loved ones, these activities serve as an avenue for social interaction, nurturing bonds with family or friends.

Upholding Self-esteem: Achieving independence in familiar self-care tasks bolsters self-esteem, making individuals feel better about themselves.

Safety First:

While the benefits are plentiful, it's crucial to prioritize safety. Setting up the environment before beginning, being near a sink or mirror when necessary, and ensuring the use of familiar and safe items can make a world of difference.

Special attention is needed when using sharp items, and supervision is recommended for activities that might pose a potential hazard.

Grooming Activities for Dementia Patients at Different Stages:

Early Stages: Individuals can understand the purpose of the tasks and remain engaged for about 20 minutes. They can make choices and will need minimal supervision. However, it's best to have them use familiar products and supplies.

Middle Stages: Understanding the purpose of grooming might become a challenge, but the activity can still be enjoyable. At this stage, more supervision is needed, and tasks should be made simpler. Repetitive actions, like brushing hair, can be comforting.

End Stages: The focus should be on sensory stimulation. Introducing them to different sensations – the sight of a hairbrush, the sound of a hairdryer, the feel of a massage, or the scent of their favorite lotion – can be calming and therapeutic.


Grooming is more than just a daily task. For those with dementia, it's an activity that can be adapted to be meaningful and beneficial. Whether it's the early or the end stages of dementia, grooming and nail care can provide comfort, a sense of routine, and a touch of normalcy.

Next time you find yourself immersed in your grooming routine, take a moment to appreciate the depth and significance of these seemingly simple activities. It’s a reminder of how even the most ordinary tasks hold value and meaning in our lives.

Let me know in the comments below if you have questions about dementia that you need answered.

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About the author

“Think Different” Dementia’s owner, Lizette Cloete, OTR/L graduated as an Occupational Therapist from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1992. Lizette has almost 30 years of experience as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of settings, the latest being in the home health environment. She enjoys teaching on the topic of dementia, most recently presenting at a national conference on the topic “Dementia Made Simple”.

Disclaimer: These blogs, videos and any work done by Lizette Cloete OT, as a Member of Think Different Dementia, LLC, is given only as educational content and consulting work. This does not create an Occupational Therapist-Patient Relationship. The educational content and consulting work performed should not be considered medical treatment as an Occupational Therapist. The consulting work does not take the place of medical work normally performed by a licensed Occupational Therapist. Please consult a licensed Occupational Therapist for medical advice.

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