For clients with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, baths and showers can be upsetting for several reasons. Understanding common facts for dementia clients can arm CAREgivers with the ability to resolve fear, reduce frustration, and elevate safety for their loved one.
Fact: Water is often scary for dementia clients, especially shower facets that extend from the wall.
Resolve: Many find that a flexible hand held shower head allows the client to control the water spay, returning some control to the experience.
Fact: Getting in and out of the bathtub is scary for most elderly people, and is only compounded with dementia.
Resolve: A sturdy shower chair often reassures the client and reduces much of the risks involved with lowering into and out of a bathtub. Adding shower bars for clients to hold onto is also helpful for resolving the fear of falling.
Fact: Many dementia clients retain a sense of modesty much longer than they can express this feeling.
Resolve: Helping a loved one maintain as much of their dignity as possible resolves frustration. Allow dementia clients to wash and dry as much of their own body as possible. Ask permission to assist, reassure with kindness and demonstrate sincere empathy.
Fact: Most physicians would agree that bathing your loved one twice each week is sufficient for healthy hygiene.
Resolve: Put away expectations for daily baths. Use sponge baths as a daily substitute for full baths, maintaining dignity within this process as well.
Fact: Most dementia clients cannot comprehend clarifications, justifications, or intellectual reasoning.
Resolve: Meeting resistance with love and compassion always beats a long explanation. Use eye contact and kind words to reassure and persuade. Say “please” and “thank you” as much as you say “I love you.”
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