Of the many struggles linked to providing care for a family member with dementia, one of the most prevalent challenges is with personal hygiene, for various reasons:
- Diminished sense of vision and smell
- Comfort associated with familiarity (for example, needing to wear the same clothes again and again)
- The complexities of bathing, compounded by cognitive impairment and confusion
- Anxiety about falling, the noises and feelings associated with the water, and much more
Cajoling, arguing, and reasoning are rarely practical tactics with those impacted by Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia. Instead, attempt these innovative techniques from the Alzheimer Society in the event your loved one resists maintaining appropriate hygiene:
- Organize the bathroom in advance so the room will be comfortable and you will not need to juggle obtaining supplies in conjunction with assisting the senior. Warm the room with a space heater, and put soap, shampoo, towels, washcloth, etc. within easy reach, plus clear away any throw rugs or other tripping hazards.
- A shower chair and hand-held sprayer usually make a far more calming bathing experience for individuals with dementia. Face the chair away from the faucet, and make use of towels to cover areas of the body both before and after they are washed to help keep the senior loved one warm and to avoid feelings of exposure.
- Have the senior help with showering tasks whenever possible to promote independence. It may be as simple as providing a washcloth or perhaps the shampoo bottle for the older adult to hold.
- If hair washing is difficult for either of you, forego that activity during bath time, and coordinate regular outings to the salon.
- Schedule a special outing with the senior, such as a dinner date with a friend, and center bath time around getting ready for the event.
- Bring in the guidance of a healthcare professional, who can advise the senior regarding the higher chance of infection or skin issues without proper hygiene. Sometimes hearing from a trustworthy third party holds more weight versus from a member of family.
- Engage the services of a caregiver, allowing the senior the dignity of having personal care needs tended to by an expert, as opposed to a relative.
At Amy’s Helping Hands, providing in-home care Windsor-Essex families trust, each of our caregivers is adept in safe hygiene procedures for senior loved ones, with specialized training to help persons with Alzheimer’s disease feel safer with personal hygiene tasks, including creative techniques for safe bathing, skin, hair, and oral care, restroom assistance, and much more. Reach out to us online or at 519.915.4370 to discover effective approaches to the concerns you and your loved one are facing!