Bathing and Alzheimer's
We hear it all the time, "My loved one with Alzheimer's refuses to bathe." The daily personal care struggle may be so great that the act is deferred. Unfortunately, this practice could lead to unpleasant odor or infections (UTIs are common among the elderly).
Understanding why someone with dementia may be reluctant to bathe is important. The resistance can be due to fear and discomfort; modesty; loss of control; or even depression. With cognitive impairment, the bathroom can be a scary place. For example, not understanding where the water from a shower head is coming from is common and can be disconcerting when one feels vulnerable.
The best results come from understanding the reluctance, advanced preparation, encouragement, and allowing the resident to participate (and feel that they have some control).
Convincing the Need for the Shower
Initiating the bath can be the most challenging step. Each person is different and responds to different techniques. Residents can be convinced that a doctor has required regular bathing; incentives have worked for others; framing bathing as a "spa day" where loved ones get special attention can also work.
Incorporating devices such as hand-held shower heads, shower chairs and grab bars can add comfort, assuage fear and
reduce the risk of falling.
There are many tips to assist a caregiver with getting the resident to bathe. We have identified a few great resources for you. From Dementia Today, here's a great overview:
Alzheimer's and Washing/Bathing