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Dementia Care: When a Loved One Resists Bathing

By Dian Brannen, 8:00 am on

Bathing can sometimes be a dreaded daily ordeal for caregivers of loved ones with dementia. While there’s no surefire way to eliminate the occasional battle of wills, there are ways to make bathing a more positive experience for everyone involved. Check out these tips from the experienced dementia caregivers at Home Care Assistance, a premier Lehigh Valley home care provider.

  • Associate Bathing with Enjoyable Activities – Associate bathing with pleasant activities like going for a walk or watching a favorite TV show. Once that activity is over, politely suggest that it’s time for a bath. You can even plan a special activity for after the bath like having a little ice cream or watching a movie together.
  • Make the Bathroom as Comfortable as Possible – Start with making sure the room is a comfortable temperature to minimize the initial chill that comes with getting out of the tub. Colorful bathmats can help create a feeling of safety and avoid confusion over not knowing where to step. Include a few familiar objects like family pictures or a favorite doll for added comfort.
  • Simplify the Process – By keeping the bathing process simple, you can avoid confusion that’s sometimes caused by reaching for different things or grabbing for washcloths and towels. Use as little water as possible and consider using soft sponges, choosing pump soap rather than bar soap and using 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioners to further cut down on steps.

Other tips for helping make bathing a more enjoyable experience for a senior loved one with dementia include:

  • Using bathing seats and handrails (to ease fears of falling)
  • Picking a pleasant topic of conversation while offering bathing assistance (to distract from the mechanics of the bathing routine)
  • Filling the tub or getting the shower to the right temperature ahead of time (to prevent any unnecessary agitation or shouting over the water that may be perceived as anger)
  • Acting like time doesn’t matter (appearing rushed or pushing your loved one to “hurry up” only sets up a possible confrontation)

If you find it difficult to help your aging parent or loved one with personal care activities, know that help is available. At Home Care Assistance we specialize in dementia care in the Lehigh Valley, and our caregivers are trained in how to ensure the safety and comfort of seniors while performing personal care activities. Along with help for bathing, dressing and grooming, you can count on our experienced caregivers to assist with daily activities, medication reminders, light housekeeping, transportation, and so much more.

To learn more about dementia home care in the Lehigh Valley, schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a friendly and experienced Care Manager by calling 484-350-3874.