Wednesday Workshop – Overcoming Showering & Bathing Challenges
Hello and welcome to Wednesday Workshop. As a person’s dementia progresses, they will need more assistance with everyday activities such as showering and bathing. For nearly all adults, bathing is a personal and private activity and so it can be hard to adjust to this change. When you are helping someone with dementia to wash, it is important to be sensitive and tactful and to respect their dignity.
Here are some of the reasons why showering and bathing can become difficult for people with dementia and gives practical tips for helping a person get clean.
Talk positively and sensitively to the person about how you feel about bathing them. Reassure them that even though it is a very personal activity, you are happy to help. Ask how they feel and how they would prefer you to do things. Try to find ways to help them remain independent in as many ways as possible and offer support as unobtrusively as you can.
Here are tips for helping someone wash and overcoming bathing challenges:
• Make sure you have everything you need ready before you start – shampoo, conditioner, body wash, a warm towel, etc. Being organized can help reduce stress and get the job done faster.
• Before you begin, quiet the room and make sure there are no distractions that could upset your loved one.
• Try to make the experience as pleasant and relaxed as possible. A nice smelling bubble bath or relaxing music can make bath-time feel like a treat rather than a chore. Make sure that the room is warm enough for the person to be comfortable.
• Be sensitive to the person’s preferences to avoid combativeness.
• Explain what you are doing step by step.
• Drape a wash cloth over private areas when not being washed to preserve the person’s dignity.
• After the shower or bath, make sure the person is thoroughly dried – especially in the skin folds. This will prevent the skin from becoming chafed and uncomfortable.
• Try to be flexible. You may find that different approaches work at different times, depending on the person’s mood and the severity of their dementia.
• After the person has washed, consider styling their hair in the way they like to wear it. The person may also like to moisturize and put on perfume or aftershave after they have washed. This can boost the person’s self-esteem and help create a feeling of well-being.
If washing is becoming too difficult, you might find it useful to install some helpful equipment such as bars, handrails and/or a hand-held shower head. This equipment can help the person feel more independent and more in control of their situation, and can make washing and bathing easier and safer.
To speak with us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center, feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop and we’ll see you again next week!