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Patient Guide by Mid Stage

Tips for Bathing Someone with Dementia (Part 1) : Making Bathing Easier and More Comfortable

14 Apr 2023 0 Comments
Tips for Bathing Someone with Dementia (Part 1) : Making Bathing Easier and More Comfortable
Bathing someone with Alzheimer's disease can be very challenging because helping with this intimate activity can be repulsive and uncomfortable. Sometimes, even stepping into the water can be very scary for them. Or they may think they don't need a bath. If older adults perceive bathing as scary, awkward, unpleasant, or uncomfortable, they may resist it verbally or physically. In some cases, there are many ways to make bathing easier and more comfortable, but what works for you varies from person to person. Caregivers need to combine skills to adapt to the elderly.

In the early stages, the person may just need reminders to take a shower. As dementia progresses, he or she will need more help.

Here are some tips to help make bathing easier and safer for older adults:
1. Prepare the bathroom in advance: Before you tell your partner it's time to take a shower, have a large towel (that can completely wrap around your partner for privacy and warmth), shampoo, soap, and a bath stool/bench ready.
2. Make the room comfortable: Cover shower seats and other cold or uncomfortable surfaces with towels. Check that the room temperature is suitable.
3. Test the water temperature in advance: If it is raining, the water needs to be adjusted in advance to ensure that the elderly will not catch a cold while waiting for the temperature adjustment. If you take a bath, you should put the bath water in advance.

Note: The elderly have a low perception of high-temperature water and are prone to burns due to too high water temperature. They may also refuse to take a bath if the water is too cold. So even if the elderly can take a bath independently, the caregiver should check the water temperature.

Make the bathroom safer:
1. Caregivers need to take care of the elderly to take a bath and avoid bathing alone. If the elderly resist, consider changing the bathing time, or increase contact with the elderly during the bath, such as massage, touching, language communication, etc., to reduce the resistance of the elderly. It can also create demand and convince the elderly that he will take a bath more comfortably if you are there.
2. Lower the thermostat on the water heater to prevent burns.
3. Place a non-slip mat in the bathtub or shower.
4. Install grab bars and use the seat in the bathtub or shower.
5. Make sure there are no puddles on the bathroom floor.

Help older people feel in control:
1. Give the elderly a choice. For example, ask if he wants to take a shower now or in 15 minutes? Bath or shower? Try saying "Shall we take a shower?" instead of "Go take a shower!".
2. Make sure the person plays a role in the bathing process. For example, have the patient hold a washcloth, sponge, or shampoo bottle (small).
3. If the person is resistant, distract him or her and try again later.
4. If the elderly are excited during bathing, they can play soothing music or sing together.
5. Always protect human dignity, privacy, and comfort. Consider covering the person with a bath towel while undressing to reduce feelings of vulnerability.
6. Try to get familiar people of the same sex to help you take a bath. Protect the dignity of the elderly and improve their acceptance of bathing.
7. Try different ways to coax the elderly into the bathtub or shower. For example, asking people to bring a towel into the bath or shower to reduce embarrassment or to help people feel warm.

To be continued...

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