Tips for Bathing People with Alzheimer’s or Dementia
At some point in your career as a caregiver in a long-term care facility, you will need to care for someone who has Alzheimer’s or dementia. Caring for someone who may phase in and out of cognitive understanding is probably one of the hardest things you will do as a caregiver. After all, the resident will probably feel very uncomfortable as someone else undresses them or washes their body. Then to complicate things, with a lack of memory or focus, the situation can go from bad to worse. However, by following some simple advice and using best practices, this daunting challenge may result in an enjoyable experience for both you and your resident.
Setting Up the Bathing Area
In a previous blog post, we discussed ways to enhance the bathing experience for your residents. In summary, create a relaxing atmosphere with dimmed lights, soft music or sound-proofed room, and turn your bathing area into a spa. If you have an Advantage End-entry Spa from Apollo, you can also prepare the spa by filling the Rapid Fill™ Reservoir ahead of time. This will allow you to rapidly fill the tub so that the resident isn’t sitting in a cold empty tub for more than 60-90 seconds. It’s also important to never leave a person unattended.
The other advantage of the Advantage End-entry Spa is that residents can easily get in and out using the Level Glide™ Transfer System. No hoists or dangerous methods for helping them in and out so that they are relaxed and safe during the entire bathing time.
During the Bath
Depending on the condition of the resident with Alzheimer’s or dementia, allow them to do as much on their own as possible. Remember, they probably once cared for themselves and still want to maintain as much independence as possible. This will help them retain a feeling of dignity and self-worth.
It may also help to lay a towel across their shoulders so they don’t feel so exposed. Also, talk about a variety of things to help pass the time so that their mind can focus on something else while you assist with their bathing.
After the Bath
Once the bath is complete, be sure to dry them completely in order to avoid rashes and infections. Remember to also dry especially between the folds of skin. If the person is incontinent, then apply Apollo Cream around the rectum, vagina, or penis to protect these areas.
Bath time can be scary for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. By creating a relaxing atmosphere and being respectful at all times, the bathing experience can be something they look forward to and brighten their day.