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Bathing and Dementia

Wednesday October 16, 2013

We’ve all done it – stepped into a shower at a hotel or a friend’s house and not been able to immediately figure out just how to turn it on! When individuals with dementia clearly have difficulty with linear thought processes (If I do A, then B should occur.), it should come as no surprise that even the most simple tasks can at times seem overwhelming.

Think with me, if you will, how many steps there are in taking a bath or shower: Getting into the bathroom, removal of clothing, turning on the water, adjusting the water temperature, remembering that you haven’t actually bathed yet and getting into the tub or shower, getting wet, deciding which product is supposed to be used, rinsing, finding a towel, drying off, dressing in clean clothing…

Can you see how this is a difficult process for someone who has difficulty remembering more than one request at a time or who simply can’t remember that they just asked a question that you’ve answered 3 times in the last 10 minutes?

The key to all care for those with dementia is to simplify.

Bathe or shower at a good time for your loved one and attempt to do that consistently.

Also, attempt to eliminate all products that are not needed. Sometimes, we have so many products in the shower or by the tub that it is confusing for the one with dementia or limited vision to know what to use.

It may be easier to bathe or shower with the individual as their dementia increases, which is much easier for spouses to do than for an adult child caring for a parent.

Sometimes as the disease progresses, relationships are confused, particularly if someone believes themselves to be much younger than they are, and they object to disrobing in front of that ‘old’ woman or man who is likely their spouse. At Page Robbins, we provide personal care services and can provide bathing for your loved one to assist you and to take that one issue off your plate.

Written by: Herbie Krisle, Executive Director