Bathing and the Alzheimer’s Patient

By Pete Lane, 8:00 am on

As your loved one’s Alzheimer’s progresses, bathing may become the source of frequent conflict if personal care activities are routinely refused. When this conflict arises, instead of tearing out your hair in frustration, try to find the underlying cause of your loved one’s refusal, and work around it if possible. Some common causes for an Alzheimer’s patient’s refusal to bathe and ways to cope with such objections are discussed below.

1. Discomfort Centennial Alzheimer’s care specialists say that discomfort is a common reason resulting in the refusal to bathe, particularly if the senior is someone who gets cold easily. If this is the case, make sure that the house and the bathroom are warm. As soon as your loved one is undressed, slip them into a soft, furry robe. Bring them into the bathroom and have the warm water already drawn so that they can slip right in without getting the shivers. When the bath is finished, help them to dry quickly and get them back into their robe again so that they will not be chilly or uncomfortable.

2. Need for Control – Your loved one may be refusing to bathe because they feel like they are not in control of the situation. To help alleviate their concerns, try to give them back as much control as you can. Sometimes giving a simple choice like “Mom, do you want to take your bath now or have your coffee first?” can make a senior more willing to bathe. When they get into the bath, let them do as much as they can for themselves. If they cannot do much for themselves, have them help you by holding the shampoo or the soap. These simple activities provide a sense of calm, while helping them enjoy some level of control and independence.

3. Fear – This is one of the most common reasons for a refusal of bathing. Alzheimer’s patients can be afraid of the noise or the feeling of water hitting them from the showerhead. Because of this, a removable showerhead which they can hold and control can be a good way to calm this fear. Playing soft music and having the bath ready when your loved one enters the bathroom can make it so they do not have to deal with the noise of the water, maximizing their comfort level.

Safety is also an extremely important component of helping an aging parent or loved one with Alzheimer’s bathe. If you feel that you need help carrying out personal care responsibilities, consider hiring an hourly home caregiver in Centennial who can assist your loved one with bathing, dressing, grooming and more.

For more information about Alzheimer’s care for an aging parent or loved one, contact Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of in-home care for south metro Denver seniors. Call 303-957-3100 to speak with a Care Manager and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation today.

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