Allow The Senior To Wash On Their Own
Some elderly people cant bathe themselves at all, in which case youll have to do it for them.
You can start with either washing their hair or cleaning their body. Assuming they want to begin by cleaning the body, a soft sponge or washcloth will be ideal for this.
Get the sponge soapy. The senior could possibly do this themselves, but maybe they cant get to every part of their body.
Begin with the face, then move onto the arms, the torso, then the back, the legs, and finally, end with the feet. Basically, move from the cleanest areas to the dirtiest. We recommend letting the senior take care of cleaning their anus and groin unless they absolutely cannot do so.
During this time, keep your eyes peeled for sores or rashes on the skin. If there are new lesions or sore that arent healing, or if you keep seeing more develop, get in touch with the persons doctor.
How Did I Convince My Mother In Law To Take A Bath
To help ease her mind, I stayed in the apartment but waited in another room. On the second bath visit, a different bathing aide showed up and my mother-in-law refused to let this woman in the house. She slammed the door and that was that. From there, bath visits were touch and go. Some days she would concede and others she would flat out refuse.
How Do You Help Someone With Dementia Shower
If the elderly person in your life has dementia or Alzheimers disease, theres a possibility that showering may become a big issue going forward. The seniors anxiety or fears around water can prevent them from showering, as can embarrassment of not being able to bathe themselves or having others see them naked.
You could find that weeks pass and the senior refuses to shower resulting in poor personal hygiene.
If the senior with dementia absolutely resists bathing, here are some tips to gently change their mind:
- It doesnt always have to be you who offers the assistance. If you have another member of the family, have them ask to bathe the senior instead. They may get a more positive reaction than you. Try not to take this personally and remember the goal that the elderly person in your life maintains their hygiene.
- Rephrase words like bathing or showering. You could try saying washing up, and this may have a better reaction from your senior.
- Make the bathroom as appealing and comfortable as possible. This could alleviate some anxiety about bathing or showering.
- Play soft music to relax the person.
- Keep it quick. This is especially important if your senior has become afraid of water. The longer theyre in the bath or shower, the more agitated they may become.
- Once you have successfully gotten the senior to shower or bathe, try to incorporate it into their daily routine. If showering becomes something that happens every day, they may accept it more easily.
Also Check: Ribbon Color For Alzheimer’s
Strategies For Bathing Someone With Alzheimers Or Dementia
Help the person feel as in-control and comfortable as possible throughout the bath. Provide encouraging statements and praise throughout the process by saying things such as This water feels so nice! or compliment the person on their appearance and scent. Be gentle and respectful, informing them what youre doing step-by-step or giving them careful, basic instructions on how to cleanse themselves, such as Lets rinse off your arm now.
Having the person hold the shampoo or washcloth can help them feel more involved, too. Additionally, using a bath blanket to cover the person as much as possible can make he or she feel less vulnerable. Its important not to forget to bathe hard-to-reach areas, even if the person is embarrassed. If the person becomes irritated or upset at any point throughout the process, distract them by talking or singing. Even offering them a favorite treat can help.
Why Do The Elderly Often Refuse To Bathe
With the aging process comes a weakening of the senses, especially ones sense of smell. Many seniors begin showering and changing less frequently because it is harder for them to notice the tell-tale scent of body odor or see stains on their clothing that indicate its time for a wash-up and a load of laundry.
You May Like: Diet Soda And Alzheimer’s
Tips To Improve Bath Time
Prepare First: Have the soap and shampoo ready, as well as a large, warm towel.
Offer a Choice between a Bath or a Shower: Some people might not have a strong preference, but for many, providing this choice can improve the outcome. A lot of water in a tub may cause fear for some, while the spraying of a shower can make others anxious.
Adjust the Time of Day: If you don’t know the person’s typical routine, find out from the family if he liked to start his day out with a shower or enjoyed a bath before bed. That’s an important routine for many people, so honoring that for a person with dementia can go a long way toward a good outcome for both the person and the caregiver.
Routine: As much as possible, stick to a routine, both as it relates to the time of day for a shower and the steps you use when helping the person bathe. Using a consistent caregiver to maintain this routine can also be very helpful to both the caregiver and the person with dementia.
Ensure a Warm Room Temperature: Ensure that the room is warm enough. A cold room plus water does not equal a positive experience.
Encourage Independence: If the person is able, ask them to wash themselves. Independence can restore a little bit of the dignity that’s lost when help is needed with bathing.
Offer a Caregiver of the Same Sex to Provide the Bath: If someone is embarrassed or becomes sexually inappropriate, offer a caregiver of the same sex to provide the shower.
Remind Them Of The Doctors Orders
Your loved ones doctor is a great resource. Your physician can help you to discover if depression is a factor and if antidepressants may provide relief and increase your loved ones energy levels. Having a renewed zeal for life will make self-care more likely, and make him/her more aware of hygiene needs.
Also, your doctor can rule out other factors that may affect a dementia patients ability and/or willingness to care for themselves and accept assistance to do so. Your doctor can give you valuable tips on how to better care for your loved one.
Bear in mind that an elderly person often respects doctors and are more likely to follow their recommendations over your pleading. So use whatever works!
Read Also: Alzheimer Vs Dementia Vs Senility
What Do You Do If Someone Refuses To Bathe
Ask their healthcare provider. When a conversation doesnt help, contacting a healthcare provider may help you determine the actual reason someone refuses to bathe. He/she can help you understand the ins and outs of their medical condition and may provide you with alternatives to bathing such as a sponge bath.
How To Shower With A Shower Chair
Shower chairs or shower benches are often great for the elderly, but without proper use, they become another bath time hazard. This is because, while the senior may spend most of their shower sitting on the chair, they must stand at some point, such as to wash the lower half of their body or to exit the shower area.
For the most safety, we recommend that a shower chair have:
- a back rest for support
- arms to aid in balancing the bather
- adjustable legs
- non-slip feet or suction cups on the feet
- a frame that will safely hold their weight
To safely use one, you must double-check that the shower chair has both slip-resistant feet and a bath mat underneath to prevent the persons feet from slipping when they stand. The chair should not move, slide, or wobble on the shower floor or in the tub, if thats where it has been placed.
Recommended Reading: What’s The Difference Between Parkinson’s And Alzheimer’s
How To Support A Person With Dementia To Wash Bathe And Shower
Practical tips on topics including aids and equipment, skincare and nails, handwashing and dental care, washing, drying and styling hair, hair removal, and using the toilet.
Supporting a person with washing and dressing
For example, consider installing taps that are easy to use and clearly marked hot and cold. If the person with dementia can more easily find and use taps for themselves, they may be able to continue with tasks without too much help from you.
Tips On Helping Someone With Dementia To Wash Themselves
Weve got tips and advice on how to carry out this very personal activity with kindness and dignity
Bathing is a normal part of everyday life. Much like eating or sleeping, its something we have to do in order to feel comfortable and happy. But if youre living with dementia, bathing can become a whole new challenge. So if youre loved one needs help and support with washing and bathing or might need it in the future its important to know the best way to approach it.
Don’t Miss: What Causes Senile Dementia
Create A Comfortable Setting
Do what you can to make bathing a pleasant experience by preparing the factors that you can control. Its common for people with dementia to struggle with temperature, feeling cold more than others, said Brand. Setting the stage in the bathroom with a nice warm space will help. Use diversion such as music or delicious smelling bath soaps to create an inviting ambience. Lastly, try to schedule showers for the persons best time of day. To help them feel more in control offer choices for now or in a few minutes. You can walk away and reapproach as needed.
How To Help An Elderly Person To Shower Or Bathe
You shower every day, either starting your morning off in there or bathing away the days stresses at its end. For you, showering is something you dont really think about its just a quick but necessary part of your routine.
But thats not always the case for an older adult. They may struggle to get into and out of the shower stall, not to mention bathe themselves. How can a family member help them out?
Whether they need just a little help or much more these steps can help you to help them.
7 Steps on how family caregivers can assist an elderly parent or other senior in the shower:
Its a very good idea to install grab bars in the shower for safety. Well talk about this a little later in this article. Youll also learn why seniors, especially those with dementia, may try to avoid showering, as well as some tips for proper shower chair use. Keep reading!
Don’t Miss: Prevagen For Dementia
How To Identify That A Person Needs Help
Setting a diagnosis is the doctors task. But you may suspect that your loved one has signs of dementia if you notice that he or she:
- often loses essential things or puts them in strange places
- often asks questions again, forgetting the answer that was just received
- confuses time or is lost in a familiar place
- experiences difficulties with concentration and is mistaken in monetary calculations
- cannot learn simple instructions for example, how to turn on the washing machine or microwave
There are other signs of dementia: for example, if a person suddenly changes in character, behavior, or has mood swings for no reason. Already in the early stages of Alzheimers, an active person may suddenly become apathetic, lose any initiative, and stop enjoying even their favorite activities.
Later, as dementia progresses, some patients become irritable, impatient, or impulsive others become restless and even aggressive. A person can have delusional thoughts . Disruption of the brain processes leads to the fact that their behavior ceases to be conscious. The patient does not recognize his relatives and gradually loses the ability to understand speech.
So, what to do with elderly parents that need help?
Where Do You Put Grab Bars In A Shower
Grab bars are a must in elderly peoples showers. They give the senior something to grab onto if they feel unsteady on their feet. The placement and installation of the grab bars is paramount, as improper installation could make the bars unsteady and thus not safe to use.
Okay, so where should you put the grab bars in a shower setting?
We recommend you have more than one grab bar in the shower if you can, and up to three or four for maximum safety.
- Youll want one grab bar nearest the faucet handles
- Another grab bar on the side wall in the shower
- And the third one right at the shower stalls entrance
Typically, grab bars in the shower should be installed 33 to 36 inches from the floor of the bathroom Standards). But I would strongly recommend to take into consideration the height and physical capabilities of the person you are installing these grab bars for.
If possible, go through a few simulations with them. Have them walk into and out of the shower / bathtub. Have them pretend to bath themselves, wash their hair, etc. Notice where a grab bar would be of assistance to them.
When installing a grab bar, be sure to use the mounting brackets that come with it and attach the wall studs with bolts.
Read Also: Alzheimers Ribbon Color
Paranoia Delusion And Hallucinations
Distortions of reality, such as paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations, can be another result of the disease process in dementia. Not everyone with dementia develops these symptoms, but they can make dementia much more difficult to handle.
Lewy body dementia, in particular, increases the likelihood of delusions and hallucinations, although they can occur in all types of dementia.
How Often Should Seniors Bathe
Because this is such a difficult task, one important consideration is how often seniors truly need to bathe. Since the U.S. is a melting pot of people and cultures from around the world, there are many different definitions of what constitutes cleanliness. Where I live in the High Plains, many seniors who are now in their 80s and 90s grew up with weekly baths, often because they lived out on remote farms and water was too precious to waste. For others, that routine was just normal behavior.
All of this is to say that if a senior wont shower every single day, its unlikely that their health will suffer. This may seem inadequate to younger generations who are used to showering more frequently, but a change of clothes each day or so and a weekly bath is usually enough for most elders who typically arent exerting themselves or getting dirty on a regular basis. However, if skin issues and/or incontinence are part of this equation, then more frequent bathing is crucial for preventing dangerous infections.
The priority is to find a frequency that is realistic for both you and your loved one and that will help them maintain their well-being. If you need some assistance with determining how often a senior should bathe, dont hesitate to ask their primary care physician for advice. He or she should be able to provide a ballpark answer, discuss the risks of poor personal hygiene and suggest alternatives to full showers or baths.
Read Also: What Color Is Alzheimer’s Awareness Ribbon
Seven Ways To Make Bathing A Comforting Experience
Bathing should be a relaxing experience so think about that before you start. Make sure the bathroom is warm enough so that when they remove their clothes, they dont get cold.
1. Have everything that you need to hand including soap, sponges and towels, so you dont need to leave them alone. If they can bathe on their own, make sure they can see where they are easily.
2. If youre washing their hair, look at whether a no-tears shampoo would be better if they dont like having soap in their eyes. Or you could gently rest a wash cloth over their eyes while you rinse the shampoo out.
3. Be gentle when washing as their skin may have become more sensitive. Think about this when setting the water temperature, too.
4. Use large, fluffy towels or a dressing gown that can easily cover them and keep them warm once youve finished bathing.
5. A bubble bath can be a useful addition to bathing if the person youre caring for doesnt like reflections on the surface of the bath water or seeing how deep it is. It can also make it feel more indulgent and relaxing if there are bubbles.
6. Dont forget your own safety. Helping people in and out of baths and showers can put a lot of strain on your back, especially if you have lots of lifting to do. You may be able to fit bath hoists or lifts in the bath.
7. If youre struggling to bathe someone that youre caring for, look into whether you can get a nurse or carer to come in and help.
Compromise Is The Key To Better Senior Hygiene
The hygiene issue is one of many instances in caregiving where compromise is essential. The thing to remember about cleanliness is that you may have to lower your standards. Undoubtedly, it is a difficult and undesirable adjustment, especially if you and your loved one live together.
Caregiving and aging are not glamorous, and there are some changes, such as incontinence, that both parties must simply learn to deal with as best as they can. Do not expect or insist on a pristine appearance. Its often unrealistic and will only lead to more frustration and tension between you. Taking a loved one to a doctors appointment or on an outing looking disheveled and smelling dirty is embarrassing, but do your best to encourage and help your loved one look nice and stay clean. If your current approach isnt working, then its time to consider trying something new.
Don’t Miss: Early Stage Dementia Treatment