It’s not uncommon for people with dementia to have some pushback when it’s time to take a bath or shower. Bath time for seniors with dementia can often cause fears of slipping and falling, embarrassment from bathing in front of someone else, or even the discomfort of a potentially cold, clammy bathroom. Although managing bath time for seniors with dementia can be challenging, there are ways to help make the process easier and more enjoyable for everyone involved!

How to Help Before the Bath

The first step to making bath time easier is to make sure that the aging adult feels as safe and secure as possible. That starts before the older adult even begins to get into the tub or shower. First, try to make the senior more comfortable by giving them the option of undressing themselves while seated and while you hold up a towel for privacy. Extending that extra consideration can help make the aging adult feel more comfortable with you, and they may be more cooperative in allowing you to help with the bathing process. Also, make sure that the bathroom is warm and welcoming so that it’s a comfortable experience. This may mean turning the heat up a few notches right before bath time or even offering the senior a cozy robe to use before getting in the tub.

As far as physical safety, there are small changes you can make to the bathroom to help ease the fear of slipping and falling for seniors:

  • Make sure the tub has grab bars for extra stability.
  • Purchase non-slip bathmats so that getting in and out of the tub doesn’t cause a fear of slipping.
  • Place bath time necessities such as soap, towels, and washcloths in a conveniently reachable area so that the aging adult doesn’t have to do any extra movement once they’re in the water.
  • If showering, make use of a shower chair and a shower nozzle with a hose extension.

What To Do During the Bath

Although much of the anxiety of bath time for seniors with dementia is before and after the actual bath or shower, there are helpful ways to put them at ease during the bathing process as well. Of course, ensuring that the water temperature is warm, but not too hot, is a big help. Additionally, if the aging adult gets nervous stepping into a deep tub, try only filling the tub a little bit and allowing them to get in and adjusted to the water temperature before filling it up all the way. 

Also, do your best to prioritize the aging adult’s dignity in the bathing process. Pay attention to what areas they are able to wash themselves, and allow them to do so. If they request your help, be sure to handle them gently, and be careful not to be too abrasive with your scrubbing. 

It’s not uncommon for people with dementia to get agitated during this process, so maintaining engaging conversation, playing some soothing music, or even having a sing along between the two of you can help disarm them and make the process less stressful for both the aging adult and you!

Bath Time Is Almost Over Now!

Once the bath is over, support them as much as they need as they get out of the tub, and ensure that the floor is dry so that they aren’t nervous about slipping. Then, give them the option of whether or not to use your help drying off, and do your best not to overstep their boundaries. 

And with all of these steps to make sure they’re comfortable and safe, hopefully they end their bath feeling renewed and relaxed!

If traditional bathing isn’t working for a senior you care for, there are still alternatives that can help! Try some of these different ways to maintain an aging adult’s hygiene: 

  • Seven-Day Bath – Instead of trying to do a full bath all at once, try washing a single part or area of the body each day to make the process quicker. 
  • Towel Bath – With this method, you can use a damp towel with no-rinse soap in or outside of the bathtub as opposed to the traditional washcloth and sudsy soap.
  • Recliner Bath – In some extreme cases, it may even be helpful to allow the aging adult to relax in a recliner while you bathe them with a washcloth and no-rinse soap. You can also use an incontinence pad to soak up excess water.

If you need help making bath time for seniors with dementia easier, Home Care Assistance of Raleigh can help! Our expert caregivers can lend a helping hand to ease the stress on you as a caregiver and on the aging adult so that bathing is a safer, more comfortable process for everyone involved. If you’d like to hear more about how we can help with our in home care in Raleigh and the nearby areas, contact us online or at 919-436-1871 today!