The Reef for Male Caregivers – Overcoming Battles in the Bathroom
Hello and welcome. Most family caregivers already know that it’s not uncommon for a loved one with dementia to refuse to shower or bathe. Finding a way to encourage them will take some trial and error. The following tips will help you to overcome bathing battles and help keep your loved one’s hygiene in check.
- Find ways to simplify the routine
Make sure all your necessary items are already set out. For example, shampoo, soap, towels and clean clothes. If your loved one uses a shower chair then make sure it is secure and ready for use. Additional things to think about to make the experience as pleasant as possible for your loved one include:
- Is the temperature of the room too cold for my loved one?
- Is the water too hot or cold for my loved one?
- Are there throw rugs or bath mats I can remove for safety purposes?
- Is this a relaxing environment?
- Respect your loved one’s dignity
Most of the time, arguments about bathing stem from feelings of loss of dignity and/or modesty. Very few people feel comfortable being exposed in front of others especially when bathing. Bathing, showering and overall hygiene are activities of independence, so when a caregiver needs to step in to help, the person may become frustrated or even agitated. Sensitivity and compromise will go a long way in reducing anxiety and frustrations.
Start washing the person from head to toe. You want to start at the top with the head/hair and work your way down the body. You should be quick with washing and scrubbing. You want them to be clean but you must be fast. You don’t want the person to get cold or frustrated while bathing.
Similar to washing a person, you also start to dry the person from head to toe. Sometimes the patient has a robe to be wrapped around them for warmth but if they do not have a robe a big towel or beach towel should cover most of the body. Next you’ll stay as close to the patient as possible and guide them out of the shower/bath.
- Safety is key
The best advice I can give is to make sure your loved one is always safe. Always check the water temperature, make sure things are secure and never leave your loved one alone in the bath/shower if they have a cognitive impairment.
To contact us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center
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