Bathing is a constant struggle for many caregivers of seniors with Alzheimer’s. While some people with Alzheimer’s don’t mind bathing, it can be a frightening, confusing experience for others. Trying to get them to take a bath or shower often ends in arguments, hostility, crying, or even screaming. So, what can be done to help overcome their resistance to bathing?
1) Establish daily routines.
Try to establish a regular daily routine that includes bathing at the same time every day. A predictable daily routine reduces stress, anxiety, and may reduce resistance.
2) Make the bathroom warm and comfortable.
Turn up the heat in the bathroom 5-10 minutes before entering the bathroom. Lay a towel on the chair or toilet seat where they sit to remove their clothes so it won’t feel cold and hard. Playing soft music and a warm bathroom will create a spa-like atmosphere.
3) Talk to him or her about each step of the bathing process.
Tell them what you are going to do and when, such as, “I’m going to wash your hair now.”
4) Use positive reinforcement.
Say something like “Let’s go shower and afterward we will have a yummy snack and do something fun.”
5) Remember dignity and privacy.
Bathing in front of a caregiver or family member can be embarrassing. Consider shielding with a towel as they undress, and let them cover themselves with a towel or robe after stepping out of the bath.
Bathing is often the most difficult personal care activity that caregivers face. For more information about helping a loved one with Alzheimer’s at bath time visit https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/daily-care/bathing.