Making a Trip to the Hairdresser’s Easy

by Jane Verity © dementiacareinternational

A simple trip to the hairdressers can be a challenge, especially if the hairdresser  is not used to dealing with a person who has dementia. As a carer, use the following tips to ensure everyone has a positive experience.

Visit the hairdresser before the appointment and have a brief discussion about the best way for them to approach the person with dementia. It may be helpful to explain that dementia is not a disease in itself but a disability of certain parts of the brain. Tell the hairdresser that the person may appear confused or anxious but, with the right approach, the experience can be positive for everyone involved.

  • When making the appointment, ask the hairdresser to allow an extra five or ten minutes, as the person with dementia may need more attention while they are settling in.
  • Remind them to speak in a normal way and  to avoid using a child-like approach.
  •  Minimise conversation between yourself and the hairdresser in front of the person with dementia, as this will undermine their confidence and self-esteem.
  •  If you think the person with dementia may have trouble remembering the hairdressers name, ask them to consider wearing a large print name badge for the appointment.
 Useful Communication Tips For Your Hairdresser
  • Ask the person with dementia one question at a time and wait for the answer before you ask the next.
  • Avoid saying, ‘What are you going to do or have you done today?’ which may cause confusion.
  • Offer only two choices. Say, ‘Today are you having hairdo A or hairdo B?’
  • Avoid the phrase, ‘Would you like to …’ in any form or combination. Instead say, ‘May I make you…?’or ‘What if…?’ or ‘How about…?’
  • Ask questions beginning with ‘Are you…?’ ‘Do you…?’ ‘Have you…?’ as these only require a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer.

When it comes time to pay the account, if possible allow the person with dementia to complete the transaction. If they become confused about providing the right money, suggest that you count it out together. Always allow the person with dementia to retain a sense of independence and dignity.

A person with dementia often loses the ability to distinguish clearly between what is theirs and what is not. When they see something that they like, such as a magazine, a colourful hairclip, or curlers, they are likely to claim it as their own. If this happens at the hairdressers do not confront them as an unpleasant episode may develop. A simple tip is to return the item at a later time.

A trip to the hairdressers can provide a wonderful opportunity for the person with dementia to have their self-esteem boosted and receive a little well-deserved pampering, so take the extra time to ensure the experience is positive for everyone involved.