One of the challenges in caring for someone with dementia can be bathing time and establishing a bathing routine. It’s common for dementia patients to resist taking a bath or shower for a variety of reasons, including: not liking the sensation of water, modesty, feeling cold, disorientation due to the hard surfaces and monotone color of the bathroom and thinking they bathed recently. They may also be resistant to bathing if they have a new caregiver.
Assisting Hands Dementia Education Program is designed to help families and caregivers better understand and meet the needs of those living with dementia. We published three other pertinent articles:
- Mealtime and At Home for Someone with Dementia
- Dressing, Grooming and Toileting for Someone with Dementia
- Sleep, Sundowning and Wandering
Now, let’s take a look at bathing and measures you can take to help make the process easier.
Help With Bathing
For someone with dementia, it’s important to make the bathing experience as inviting as possible. Here are some suggestions to help:
- Play music they enjoy.
- Have several large, comfortable and colorful towels nearby.
- Make sure the bathroom is warm.
- Use brightly colored non-skid bath mats.
- Install grab bars and a tub/shower bench.
- Talk about something they enjoy as a distraction.
If bathing has become particularly challenging, remember that washing up at the sink is better than not bathing at all. Getting a loved one to bathe twice a week is optimal. On some days, this
might be a battle that’s not worth fighting if your loved one’s safety (or yours) is at risk.
Adopting a bathing routine, such as setting the same time for a bath or shower and using the toilet beforehand, is also helpful for dementia patients. It’s also a good idea to find out what their routine for bathing was in the past and continue to follow that pattern. Here are some other ideas that can assist in the bathing routine:
- Provide privacy when getting undressed and hold up a towel if necessary. In the bath, place a small towel over their private areas while they’re sitting on a bench.
- Consider allowing them to bathe in their underwear if they refuse getting completely undressed.
- Check the water temperature and pressure.
- Promote independence by providing a washcloth and allow them to wash areas themselves.
- Give simple directions in small steps and demonstrate what you mean, if needed.
- Don’t leave them alone.
- Use a hand held shower if preferred and be sure to check the water pressure.
- Start by washing the feet as it helps someone become more comfortable with the bathing process. Slowly move up the body, but never spray water in the face.
- Rinse with a cup of water.
- Help with visual difficulties by using colored bath salts in the tub.
As a caregiver, bathing someone with dementia can sometimes be a challenging and tiring process. Assisting Hands specializes in Alzheimer’s and Dementia care and provides professional in-home personal care services to offer caregivers a much-needed break. Call us at 301-363-2580 and let’s discuss how we can help.