Bathing is a common difficulty for caregivers and those living with dementia. There are several reasons why a person with dementia may seem to be resisting bathing. One common reason is the fact that he/she may not remember the purpose of bathing; they might not understand what bathing means. It may also be uncomfortable for him/her. Bathing is a private and intimate, and having help can be embarrassing. People with dementia may also have an increased sensitivity to water pressure and temperature. These factors could make the experience uncomfortable as well.
Before the bathing process begins it may be helpful to have the bathroom prepared. Gather all the supplies necessary and have them within reach. Make sure that the room is comfortable and monitor the water temperature. It is also important to ensure that the person is comfortable and try to provide as little assistance as possible in order to help the person feel empowered.
Present the person with options and tasks so they feel involved in the process. Try to protect the dignity and privacy of the person. Bathing is also sometimes easier if the individual assisting is a familiar person and/or of the same sex. Always be flexible with bath times: if the person is not willing to bathe, try again later.
After bathing it is important to check for rashes or sores. It may be best to seat the person while drying them off. Always be gentle on the skin. Caregivers might try patting the skin dry rather than rubbing it.
For more information regarding bathing, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 1.800.272.3900 or visit alz.org/dayton.