Alzheimer’s Disease and Bathing

Alzheimer’s Disease and Bathing

If you are a family caregiver, then you may have had to give your loved one a bath. As may know, this could be one of the most difficult tasks of caregiving. Because bathing is such a private matter, it may feel like you are encroaching on your loved one’s privacy. Unfortunately, there are no easy ways to get around this activity, and caregivers have to give their loved ones baths to avoid infections, UTI’s, and smelling bad.[1] In this blog, we want to try to make this task easier for caregivers by explaining what you can expect, strategies to help your loved one feel comfortable, and safety tips to be aware of so your loved one is not in a dangerous position.

Consider these tips

(1) Empower your loved one: Living with dementia strips much of the independence and control from your loved one’s life. So, it is important to give them as much choice in their day-to-day life as possible. For example, instead of saying “It’s time for a bath”, you should ask them, “Would you like to take a bath now or later?” This phrasing gives them the ability to choose the activity on their terms.

(2) Always respect your loved one’s privacy: If possible, try to have your loved one hold a towel over their body while you or a professional caregiver help them undress. This allows them to have at least some privacy and can help make them feel less nervous.[2]

(3) Establish a routine: To make bathing a normal part of everyday life, you must establish and maintain a schedule with your loved one. Set shower times for the same time every day if possible.

(4) Hire help: Bathing your loved one with Alzheimer’s can be a difficult task. In which case, it can be beneficial to hire a professional caregiver who is certified and trained to help out with this particular task. It is possible to hire a professional caregiver for an hour at a time if necessary.

(5) Give your loved one the control over their body: If possible, make showering easier by finding ways to simplify bathing. For instance, instead of using a bar of soap, put soap on the wash cloth for them so they do not have to fumble around with a slippery bar of soap. This allows them to concentrate on the activity and allows them to have more control over their bodies and the situation by not worrying about accidents.

(6) Practice Shower Safety: Protect your loved one from falls by installing anti-slip mats in the tub, putting carpets down on tiled areas, and installing hand railings and/or a shower seat so your loved one can find support. Showers can be extremely dangerous places, especially for those vulnerable to slips and falls. Additionally, make sure the water temperature is not too hot or cold as this may startle your loved one. A safe way to help your loved one shower is to use a hand-held shower head and make sure the temperature of the water is comfortably warm beforehand.[3]

(7) Talk to your loved one: Try to talk to your loved one during the shower to distract them as this may help avoid them from getting angry, aggravated, and frustrated.

If you need any other tips, please call ElderCare at Home or visit our website.

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