Of the many challenges related to providing care for a loved one with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association reveals that the most prevalent difficulty is with personal hygiene, for a variety of reasons:
- Reduced sense of vision and smell
- Comfort found in familiarity (i.e., wanting to wear the same clothes over and over again)
- The complexities of bathing, compounded by cognitive impairment and confusion
- Fear of falling, the sounds and sensations of the water, and more
Cajoling, arguing, and reasoning are rarely effective tactics with those impacted by Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia. Instead, try these creative approaches if your loved one resists maintaining proper hygiene:
- Prepare the bathroom in advance so the room will be comfortable and you won’t need to juggle gathering up supplies in conjunction with assisting the senior. Warm the room with a space heater, and place soap, shampoo, towels, washcloth, etc. within easy reach, as well as remove any throw rugs or other tripping hazards.
- A shower chair and hand-held sprayer often make a more comfortable bathing experience for those with dementia. Face the chair away from the faucet, and use towels to cover parts of the body before and after they are cleaned to keep the senior warm and to avoid feelings of exposure.
- Have the senior assist with bathing tasks as much as possible to promote independence. It may be as simple as offering a washcloth or the shampoo bottle for the senior to hold.
- If hair washing is difficult for either of you, forego that task during bath time, and arrange for weekly trips to the salon.
- Plan a special outing with the senior, such as a lunch date with a friend, and center bath time around getting ready for the event.
- Bring in the recommendation of a medical professional, who can advise the senior about the increased risk of infection or skin problems without proper hygiene. Sometimes hearing from a trusted third party carries more weight than from a family member.
- Engage the services of a caregiver, allowing the senior the dignity of having personal care needs tended to by a professional, rather than a family member.
At Generations at Home, each of our caregivers is adept in safe hygiene procedures for older adults, with specialized training to help those with Alzheimer’s disease feel comfortable with personal hygiene tasks, including creative approaches to safe bathing, skin, hair, and oral care, restroom assistance, and much more. Call us at 727-940-3414 or contact us online to discover effective solutions to the concerns you and your loved one are facing!