Getting an elder to bathe is a challenge that many care providers face. It is even more difficult when the elder has Alzheimer’s. A person who believed in being neat and clean before the disease may start to display a change in their attitude towards bathing. There are ways that home care services can help ease the bathing experience for an elderly individual with Alzheimer’s.
Many times those suffering with Alzheimer’s become confused and think that they have already showered or they are fearful of getting hurt. The idea of having water poured onto their head can be frightening when they lack the concept of bathing.
For an elder who thinks they already bathed or doesn’t see the point, you can use the fun approach. Explain how you want to both get cleaned up and go out for lunch or some other fun activity.
An in-home care provider should do what they can to make the shower/bath safe and comfortable. If an elder dreads taking a bath because it is too cold in the bathroom, this can make it more of a challenge to get them to do so. Simply adjusting the temperature in the bathroom can make a big difference and be more enticing. Install grab bars or a shower seat for stability. Use a handheld shower head to keep the water from continually running down their head and face. Using a dry shampoo, reduces the number of times that you will have to wash their hair.
In the more advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, an elder may begin to express an even more fearful attitude towards taking a shower or bath. In this case, a different method is necessary. Giving the elder a sponge bath will get them clean and minimize their fear.
Always talk about what you are going to do next when helping an elder with a shower or bath. Speak in a low, calming tone describing your every move. By telling them what you are doing and what part of the body you will be moving and washing, reduces the element of surprise.
Even though a person with Alzheimer’s may not know everything that is going on, it is still important to respect their privacy and modesty. An elder with Alzheimer’s may be more comfortable hiring a person from an in-home care service instead of a family member or friend.
Cleanliness is important but it is not necessary to bath or shower every day. However, when you do have to assist with bathing, home care services should consider the approaches mentioned above.