Alzheimers Bathing may be one of the most difficult tasks you will encounter while providing Alzheimers care in your home. How difficult of a task it becomes will depend on what stage of Alzheimer's Disease your family member is in.
It is best if you start a bathing routine as early as possible in the disease process. The routine should consist of the same days every week, the same time, and gather supplies the same way each time. Most people bath daily. The minimum bathing for someone with this disease should consist of daily washing of the face and their privates. At least twice a week they should have a complete bath/shower.
In the early stage they will begin to forget they need to bathe and will need gentle reminders. In the middle stage they may become very resistant to bathing, this is when the routine becomes helpful. Overhead showers and deep bath tubs can be overwhelming and frightening.
I have seen many Alzheimers patients physically fight bath time. Shower chairs make it easier to get them in and out of the tub and helps to prevent falls. A hand-held shower is not as threatening to them as an overhead shower. It is much easier to control the water and keep it out of their face, especially with hair washing. Shower chairs or benches usually make bathing time easier and safer. These products are available at most medical supply stores.
Review the bathroom safety page to make sure your bathroom is Alzheimers bathing ready!
During the late stage of Alzheimer's Disease the bathing will mainly be sponge baths in bed. These may be awkward in the beginning but after a couple of times you will become an expert at it. Maintain a calm atmosphere. Soft music will help keep them calm during the bathing process. For many people bathing is a very relaxing experience.
Most people like their privacy and independence. Regardless of which stage of the disease your family member is in, you should respect their dignity at all times. They may be embarrassed being undressed in front of you, if this is the case then only uncover the body area you are washing. A large towel or bath blanket will help to keep the other areas covered.
Do you have Alzheimers bathing advice, something that works well for your family member? Share it! Other families would love to hear your ideas or suggestions.
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