When someone has Alzheimer’s, many activities of daily living become more difficult or less important to them, even more than with normal aging. One of these main activities is bathing. If someone with Alzheimer’s won’t bathe, it becomes the caregiver’s role to assist with this personal care activity. But since the person may no longer like bathing, this activity can be a challenge for caregivers. These tips and strategies can help you make the process easier.
Why Do Alzheimer’s Patients Stop Bathing?
It can help you as a caregiver to understand the feelings and experiences of someone with Alzheimer’s. Many people who have it will stop bathing themselves completely. Why does this happen? Alzheimer’s and other dementias can cause people to find bathing disagreeable. This is because of some of the experiences they are going through, such as:
- A loss of remembrance on the purpose of bathing
- Sensitivity to water and air temperature when undressed
- Sensitivity to water pressure
Also, the person can have trouble with depending on someone else, a lack of privacy and having enough patience to get through the bathing process.
When does this happen? It’s common for people to bathe less during stage 5 of dementia. During stage 6, they tend to stop bathing when they no longer understand the need.
Tips to Make Bathing Easier
While bathing can be more difficult for people with Alzheimer’s, certain strategies can help make it achievable. As a caregiver, you should stay calm and adapt to different situations during the bathing process. Also, help the person have some independence by allowing him to do as much as he can and assisting when needed. You can do a full bath two to three times a week with sponge baths in between.
Always put safety first as well. You can make the bathroom safer with tools like grab bars, a bath chair or bench, a handheld shower head and floor mats that stay in place. Further, keep the water from getting too hot and make sure the room has enough light. Never leave the person alone in the bathroom during bathing.
Steps to Successful Bathing
This process can help you improve bath time:
Step 1: Prepare Before Bath Time
Start by preparing the bathroom so the bathing process can be more seamless. This step includes activities like gathering the needed supplies, such as soap and a washcloth. Also, create a comfortable atmosphere through a warm room and possibly relaxing music. When you’re ready to start, make the request for the person to bathe seem nonchalant.
Step 2: Take Measures During Bathing
The main technique during bathing is to let the person wash as much as she can. Even if the person cannot actively bathe, have her hold a washcloth to give her something to do and to help prevent hitting. Put a towel around the person, and gently wash with a washcloth in sections under the towel at a time. Tell the person what you’re going to do before you do it, and be sure to give choices and ask permission. Use positive reinforcements when everything goes well during the bathing process, and talk to the person to keep her calm.
Step 3: Following the Bath
When you are finished washing the person, gently pat his skin dry using a towel. Make sure all areas, including those between skin folds, are dry to minimize infections and skin rashes.