Refusal To Bathe

Caregiver Training: Refusal to Bathe

Caregiver Training:  Refusal To Bathe is transcribed from video and provides great insight on how caregivers can encourage their loved one to bathe without it being a battle every time.  By following these tips, bathing can be much less stressful for both caregiver and loved one.

“My mother used to shower every day.  Now if I don’t remind her, she refuses to bathe at all.  If I try to help her and courage her to take a bath, she argues with me and gets upset, so she’s afraid of the water.  What can I do?”  “Mom it’s 8 a.m.  Time for your shower.”  “Oh I don’t need it.”  “I don’t want one.”  “Mom come on.  Please, we’ve gone over this, over and over.  Watch, come on.  It’s been a week since your last one.  You need one.  Please get undressed.”

A person with dementia will often refuse, withdraw, or fight during a bath or shower

When you’re helping someone to bathe, it’s important to be sensitive, tactful, and to respect their dignity.  Remember washing is a personal and private activity.  Bathing can be scary for patients as dementia progresses.

“Okay mom, it’s noon.  It’s time for your spa treatment.”  “Oh, I don’t really want to go.  “But you love the spa.  It makes you feel like a queen.  Yeah, and after that, we’ll go to your favorite restaurant for lunch.”  “Well okay.  I guess, all right.”   “Good.  Let’s go.  So first, let’s start by unbuttoning your shirt.  I’m gonna undo the top button and then can you help, okay?”  “Okay.”

“Good job, mom.  Okay mom, I put a little water on your toes.  I’ll test it to see if it’s okay.  What’s it feel like?” “mmm it’s warm.”  “Good.  Now let’s wash down there.  Can you do that by yourself ?  Sweet!  Okay we’re almost finished.  I’m going to turn the water pressure on low and fill up this cup with some water.  I’m going to stand up, you just sit right here, okay? Just lean your head back.  I’ll pour a little bit of water on you.  We’re going to gently massage your hair with your favorite gardenia scented shampoo.  How does that feel?”  “Mm-hmm.”

Reassure your loved one that even though bathing is a very personal activity, you’re happy to help.  Ask how they feel and how they would prefer to do things.

Here are some additional tips on how to help your loved one bathe

  1. Be flexible on the time.  If your loved one doesn’t like to bathe in the morning, try a different time of day.
  2. If the word shower or bath causes anxiety, use a different term like “spa” or “get clean”.
  3. Make the bathroom inviting by using flameless candles, aromatherapy or soothing music.
  4. It’s important that your loved one feels safe.  Install handrails and use a shower chair.
  5. Limit bathing to twice a week and give sponge baths in between.
  6. Let them know what you’re about to do one step at a time.  And have them help as much as possible.
  7.   Use a towel to drape over them to provide more privacy.
  8. Consider installing a handheld shower head.  It makes it easier to aim the water which can be helpful and less stressful.  (End of transcription)

As a caregiver, getting a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia to bathe can be quite a challenge.  I hope these tips will encourage and help you making bathing less stressful for you and your loved one when helping them bathe.

Be sure to check out my podcast: Alzheimer’s Caregiver Radio.  Subscribe to be notified when new episodes are available.


As found on Youtube

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