Senior Hair — Color or not?

senior-hair-colorDear Francy; My mom is 82 and she insists on coloring her hair…I think with all the meds she takes and her age, the hair color should stop. How can I break it to her?

UM, well you don’t. My mom had Auburn hair when she passed at 100 years of age. It really is a thing for the senior to decide. That may make the trips to the salon a bit much for support family or friends, but the tradeoff of losing another piece of her life…her hair color, is not worth the “put your foot down”.

There are so many things you can do these days that are easy and even the bath lady can quickly put a color rinse, in senior hair, to give it some lift. You can find easy products for color and more moisture at the drug store. Or you can go into a beauty supply and ask them for help. There are also some small tubes of fun color that could really be a great thing to give your mom a couple weeks of a slice of orange for Halloween. Or blue to highlight a special outfit. Just try to be open.

Getting older does not mean that fun has to leave your life. Sometimes hair color or nail color really gives a senior a snap of fun and their friends a giggle. So even if they are at a retirement facility…their hair, nails and lipstick can be color filled and enjoyable. Or if they are home, on their own…with few visitors…that hair color and a monthly well-deserved mani/pedi – makes a big difference in their personal view of who they are.

When I talked to my mom about her color and asked if she thought it was time to let it go gray she said; “I watched all my girlfriends go gray and when they did…they only saw their older self. So I told my brain to think young and stay red. Now, I’ve outlasted them all.”

Everyone has their own inner voice. But to me, that voice that tells a gal she is still a woman with beauty and love to give – that voice needs to always be supported, not silenced, no matter what her age. I agree with mom, when you start to think of yourself as only “old” there is a downward spiral in your mental and physical health. I have a good friend that told me that wearing make-up and doing her hair was no longer what she wanted to worry about. Yet, she always talks about how she has outlived “her time” when she begins a conversation with me.

I think keeping your hair in a style that is comfortable and still attractive and putting on moisturizer and lipstick is what keeps you feeling like you matter. Not to mention, those around you see and react to how you “care” for yourself and mirror those emotions back to you.

I have taken note of the older men in grocery stores with angry faces. They are wearing clothes from twenty years ago, tummies hanging down low and baseball caps to hide their unruly hair and their beards are not trendy…just unkept. I feel for them and wonder who is caring for them at home? I never let my George get into that rut. I kept his hair and facial hair in good order. I always kept a simple face moisturizer with SPF ready for his morning wake-up routine. I also made sure if his teeth got yellow that he had a few of those whitener strips to perk the teeth up. I updated his clothes so he looked attractive, yet comfortable and he responded by feeling good about his own self. All through his Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s downslide; I kept his daily routine of meds and light exercise to include his “look”. Everyone always told me how great he looked even well into his eighties before he passed.

I know that caring for seniors is very overwhelming with the many things that have to be done to keep them well and functioning each day. But personal grooming is just as important as it ever was in their life. And maybe even more important. Because when you start to have very little in your life ~ when you are away from your old friends, your old spouse, your old home and car…the senior’s own life seems so empty and pointless. That’s when highlighting ones own personal self-care is even more important…so the senior always feels like they are worthwhile and their current life may be different but it’s still a quality life, each day.

I know it is more work for the care giver…but it’s just so important to remember pills and exercise are only a part of a person in care. The person’s smile and personal “look” needs to have a place in the daily routine. Finding that inner joy completes the package.

I appreciate all you are doing for your senior in care. I have a sweet neighbor that is starting to replace my light bulbs…I giggled to myself the other day when he had left. You see I always remember thinking that was the beginning of the care I gave to my mother. When she asked George to stop by and change her light bulbs. I guess I’m on the same path. Aging is scary when you are not of means and have no children, I can’t help but worry about my own future as I age. But I have mother’s example of not giving in to fear and walking forward through all the times of change to help me keep going. Blessings, francy



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