Personal hygiene becomes harder as people grow older and health conditions such as arthritis make it harder to maneuver safely in the bathroom. However, you should also be aware that dementia causes symptoms that can increase the challenges of bathing and brushing their teeth.
As a family caregiver, your loved one depends on you to help them prevent illnesses and infections through proper hygiene care. You can use the following tips to help your loved one take care of their hygiene needs so that they always look and feel their best.
1. Determine an Appropriate Schedule
Seniors who resist bathing may not need to have a bath every day, provided that they are able to clean themselves properly after going to the toilet. Switching the bath to every other day may reduce the agitation that your loved one experiences while also preventing issues such as dry skin.
2. Stick to a Routine
People with dementia tend to rely upon routines to get through their daily activities. Try to handle hygiene care tasks using the same procedures each time. For instance, you could always have your loved one brush their teeth at the same time each day or start their bath each morning after breakfast.
3. Use Effective Communication
The symptoms of dementia may cause your loved one to refuse to bathe. If your loved one is being difficult, use effective oral communication strategies such as making a statement rather than asking a question. Try to use positive language. For instance, you could tell your loved one that you just filled up the tub with warm, bubbly water.
Forgetfulness is another symptom of dementia that poses challenges for your loved one’s personal hygiene. Try using visual aids to serve as reminders. Use pictures to help your loved one remember the steps for handwashing, or point to an image of a toothbrush to remind them to brush their teeth.
4. Simplify the Process
Everyone has different reactions to close personal contact. While some seniors with dementia enjoy the soothing effects of having their hair washed, others may find it uncomfortable. Always respect your loved one’s preferences as much as possible during their bathing routine.
If lengthy baths agitate your loved one, then choose products that shorten the time. For instance, threein-one products can work as shampoo, conditioner, and body wash so that you can shave minutes off of helping your loved one get clean.
5. Implement Safety Measures
A senior with dementia may not be able to tell you if the water is too hot, so you can use a bath thermometer to make sure that the water stays between 98 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. As you bathe your loved one, watch for signs of discomfort such as skin redness and respond accordingly.
6. Protect Their Dignity
Personal hygiene tasks should always be handled in a way that protects your loved one’s dignity and comfort. Sometimes, a senior refuses assistance from a family member out of embarrassment.
If you suspect that your loved one is uncomfortable being seen nude by a family member, then arrange for a professional caregiver to assist with the task. Home health caregivers know how to use techniques such as covering up private parts to protect a senior’s dignity during baths.
7. Generate Positive Associations
Once a senior has developed negative feelings about hygiene care, you need to help them build positive associations with the routine. Consider planning something special for after their bathing times such as a soothing hand massage or a favorite snack.
Our caregivers at Caring Inc. understand the importance of helping seniors with dementia achieve their optimal health. Contact us today for assistance with your loved one’s personal hygiene routine that always involves a compassionate approach.