5 tips for bathing a person with dementia
Personal hygiene has always been a topic of much stress and concern among the caregivers of dementia. As care specialists too, we often hear instances of how making their loved ones bathe becomes a daily hassle causing strain and tensions. We all understand the host of infections and problems that can crop up with not maintaining proper hygiene. Our persistent effort in explaining and making them bathe is often met with strong resistance, often accompanied with them being aggressive: verbally and physically. Some of the tips that come handy in such times are.
1. For those with dementia, the world is now an extremely different place from what it was, and hence they may perceive the environment with a different perspective. Understanding what is leading to the withdrawal or refusal to bathe is crucial as that helps to properly address the cause of the behavior. Some of the commonly observed triggers for the behavior are:
- Underlying Pain
- Finding the room or water hot/cold
- Feeling Vulnerable
2. Our loved ones suffering from dementia are often adults who have lived a long life, enriched with experiences. Maintaining a sense of respect for them, as an elder helps in building a strong bond. Always first ask for permission to bathe and honor and incorporate their preferences in the bathing experience. Being less rigid with timings and more flexible in the approach to bathing helps in reducing the stress.
3. Make the environment warm and dementia friendly. Installing grab bars, non-reflective tiles, slip proof flooring in the bathroom helps the patient to feel safe and reduce the fear of falls. Additional add-ons can be made to make it more personal and comforting experience. Often elders tend to hallucinate or assume their reflection to be someone else. In such cases, it is suggested to remove the mirrors.
4. Bathing is always a very personal and intimate process. Having a person around them and through this can be traumatizing for many elders, causing much resistance. It may intimidate them and be a big blow to their self-esteem. Hence, bathing with a thin cloth covering their dignity, may help in reducing the feeling of vulnerability.
5. Instead of making bathing a mechanical process, engage the loved one in the whole procedure. Direct them in removing and wearing clothes, asking them to hold the shampoo, using hand held showers independently, describing the bathing process step wise are some of the ways that not only help in reducing the confusion, it also restores a sense of control in them.
Bathing is a very personal and inmost experience. Though the disease makes it a likely challenge, what we need to keep in mind is that none of this on purpose and they seek our help and guidance in making their world a bit more familiar and less confusing.
POINTERS TO KEEP IN MIND:
- Remove bathroom locks. Keep the sockets and pointed objects covered. Usage of all equipment like hair dryers, geysers should be supervised. There should be natural ventilation and sunlight in the bathroom.
- It is important to be completely organized. Keep everything ready and handy for use than having chaos at the last minute.
- Keep only essential items in the bathroom to avoid confusion. Toilet and shower seats, bathroom door and handles should be contrasting colors to enable differentiation.
- Being sensitive to their choices is important. Using the toiletries like soap, shampoo that are familiar to the person should be used. Gathering detailed history on their previous bathing process helps.
- Water should always be poured from behind. It’s important to be flexible. If they do not want to remove clothes, it’s ok. The water on clothing will probably cause them to remove their clothes.
We at Samvedna Senior Care aim to help seniors live happy, active and independent lives, in the comfort of their home and community through interactive caregiving.
Samvedna Senior Care was established in October 2013 with two complementary goals – firstly to provide quality home care services to seniors with limited mobility and social interaction due to various constraints, and secondly to facilitate stimulating community interaction and participation.
Our Dementia Care services are –