One of the most stressful tasks a caregiver has is giving a bath. This is especially true for those caring for a senior at home. Emotions related to dignity, loss of independence and embarrassment are all barriers to completing this important activity. If the senior you are caring for has Dementia it seem nearly impossible.
This blog will provide some tips to make bath time for the senior and caregiver go just a little easier. If these tips are used as part of a regular care giving schedule it will help seniors and their families establish a more productive care giving environment.
Don’t Avoid It
If a senior you care for isn’t bathing, it probably has less to do with laziness and more to do with some kind of physical or mental deficit.
There could be a number of reasons a senior avoids taking a bath. Of course emotions play a role as seniors adjust to having a normally private activity turn into a one shared with a stranger or family member. Mobility issues can make senior apprehensive about bathing for fear of falling in the bathroom. If the senior has dementia, there might be fear associated with remembering how to accomplish the task of bathing.
Bathing on a regular basis is an important part of a maintaining good health. This is important for everyone but very important for the senior. As we age our skin becomes thinner and more fragile, so taking care of it is key to preventing skin breakdown. Regular bathing helps to clear the skin, relieve pressure, and stimulates circulation. It also helps with a seniors mental well being.
If you think the senior you are caring for is having trouble bathing, don’t avoid the topic because of embarrassment. Doing so could have a long-term negative effect on their health.
Understand The Feelings/Ask Questions
The most important part of establishing a bath routine is understanding how the senior feels about suddenly needing help with this very private and intimate activity. The only way to understand it is by asking questions.
Think about the things you like when taking a bath or shower. Things like the water temperature, wash clothes, soaps and shampoos are important to anyone and they are just as important to the senior.
Fear of falling may be another issue for the senior. Maybe they just need help getting in an out of the shower but are afraid to ask. Understanding what they like and dislike about bathing can help you better plan for bath time and make the process less stressful.
Establish a Schedule
Waiting until the odor becomes unbearable and then rushing to the shower is not going be effective. Establish a regular bathing schedule. Find out when the senior likes to take their bath and schedule it at that time. If time is a concern, schedule it when the caregiver can help without rushing through the process but make sure it is on the same time and day every week.
Establishing a schedule will not only keep the senior clean but it will also make the process more efficient and less time consuming, reducing stress for the caregiver as well.
Set the Scene
Before attempting to give a bath make sure everything is set-up. The seniors favorite soaps and wash clothes should be in the room, easily reached and ready to use. A bathrobe and towel should also be within arms reach so the caregiver does not have to leave the room.
Getting everything set-up prior to the bath will not only make the process less stressful but also reduce the chances of a fall.
You don’t like to be rushed in the shower and neither does the senior. This is especially true for patients with Dementia who have trouble understanding what is going on around them. If you rush the bathing process you could not only get resistance but also cause a senior to become startled and have an accident.
Remember the senior you are caring for as the same feelings and emotions as everybody else. A bad bath experience could adversely effect the rest of the day. Rushing through might save time during the bath but will cause more problems later. It’s not worth it.
It is important that the senior do as much of the bath process as they can for themselves. Hopefully you have asked questions and discovered the barriers the senior has to bathing independently. Try helping the senior overcome those specific barriers and leave the rest to them.
For example, if the senior is having trouble getting in an out of the shower, help them accomplish that and then let them do the rest. It will make the process less invasive and help the senior feel more independent.
Nobody wants other people to see them get in and out of the shower. If you properly set the scene, as suggested above, you will have the a towel or bathrobe near by to help the senior cover-up before getting out of the shower.
Doing this will help the senior protect the seniors privacy and maintain their dignity. And probably make you feel more comfortable too.
If you use these tips and plan ahead you bath time will become less of a stressful battle of wills and become more of a relaxing activity. These are the types of tips available from our Certified Elder Care Coordinators everyday. They can help you develop a senior care plan for everything from bathing to choosing a home care company. For more information on our senior care planning packages that include unlimited phone support CLICK HERE. Our Certified Elder Care Coordinators are standing by to assist you.