Giving on independence is hard on seniors, especially if they have to rely on a caregiver in their home for assistance. One of the biggest challenges that caregivers can face — especially for those caring for patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s — is bath or shower time. Bathing oneself is key for health and vitality, but seniors may feel reluctant or scared to bathe if they are physically or mentally unable to do so. If you are a person taking care of a senior who need help bathing, here are some tips that can help make bath time easier. By following some simple steps, you can ensure that bathing or showering is occurring regularly – and make the experience as pleasant and stress-free as possible for everyone involved.
Use Enjoyable Activities as Encouragement
Pair bath time with an enjoyable or favorite activity to encourage a senior to bathe. By following a bath with something they enjoy doing — like taking a walk, visiting friends, having a delicious meal, etc. — you can lower their resistance to bathing. Remind seniors that bathing is a necessary step to preparing them for the things they like to do, and they’ll feel more motivated to do it.
Give Them as Much Privacy as Possible
One reason some seniors don’t like to bathe is that they don’t want to be naked or vulnerable in front of a stranger (or even a family member). For that reason, you should try to give a senior patient as much privacy as possible when they’re going to shower. Try setting up the shower or bath in advance with all products they need if you’re caring for someone who is mobile, then allowing them to undress or get in themselves. Sit by and monitor to make sure they don’t slip and fall. If a senior isn’t mobile and needs help, try covering them with a towel or bath blanket while undressing — then hold the towel up to block them while they are getting out of the tub or shower so they’re covered, too.
Take Your Time Bathing
A bath or shower is something a senior should never rush through. Rushing can only result in a senior who’s not very clean — but also who is at risk of slipping and falling. Make bath or shower time a gentle, relaxing, slow, soothing experience. This not only makes it as stress free and enjoyable as possible, it also ensures that everyone stays safe. It can help to set a regular time for bathing when you know that there is plenty of time to be precise and careful — like at the end of the day before bed, when you don’t have to rush off to another activity.
Make the Bathroom a Warm, Comfortable Retreat
No one wants to feel cold or uncomfortable. So, make sure that the bathroom is a warm, inviting room for a senior. Make sure that the bathroom is properly heated and fill it with friendly, welcoming decor (like paintings, flowers, etc.) Make sure there are plenty of towels in the room to be used to dry bodies and hands, and consider covering cold surfaces like a vanity or toilet seat with a towel, as well. Consider making the room like a spa to make someone want to come in it — you may even want to play soft, soothing music or use delicious aroma therapy scents, too.