When your elderly loved one has Alzheimer's or dementia, bath time can become a battle. Your loved one may not see any valid reason to bathe, or think that a shower already happened that day. The problem can become worse as your loved one's symptoms worsen. To help with the situation, there are a few tricks you can try to make bathing less of a battle.
Check the Bathroom's Safety and Comfort
For your elderly loved one to truly enjoy the bathing experience, it helps to have a safe and comfortable environment in which to do so. Do a safety check of the entire bathroom first. Look for places that are more slippery than others and make sure that there are grab bars installed in and around the tub as well as around the sink area. If the bathroom tends to be cold, make sure that you bring in a space heater a few minutes before bath time.
Is Your Loved One Afraid of the Tub or Shower?
Another common problem for loved ones who have dementia or Alzheimer's is that they become afraid of the tub, shower stall, or even of water itself. This can make bathing extremely difficult, if not impossible. You can talk to your loved one's doctor to determine if there are simple solutions that you can try, but increasing the safety features in the bathroom can sometimes be enough.
A Sponge Bath Is Acceptable
Sometimes family caregivers become so intense about showers for their elderly loved ones that they overlook the fact that there is a simple solution: A sponge bath. If a sponge bath can alleviate much of the anxiety and the fear that your loved one experiences when attempting a shower or bath, then that is an immense help on its own.
Try to Remove the Element of Surprise
Throughout the bathing process, try to remove any element of surprise involved. Let your loved one know that bath time is coming up in half an hour, for example, or that you're about to help your elderly loved one into the tub. Having that verbal reminder before something happens helps to ease the way and your loved one's nerves.
If bath time is a serious concern, it may be time to look into supportive in home care providers. They can perform personal care services, such as helping to bathe your loved one, when it's become difficult for you to do it yourself.