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Bathing a Senior Parent with Dementia

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Seniors with dementia often have difficulty with bathing, which poses challenges for caregivers. Your aging parent may suddenly develop a fear of water, or he or she may feel embarrassed at the prospect of having someone else help with bathing tasks. When bath time has turned into a major battle, try using these tips to make it a more enjoyable part of your loved one’s day.

Lay Out Your Supplies First

Older adults with dementia shouldn’t be left unattended in the shower, and it’s best if you’re always within arm’s reach in case your loved one tries to grab the hot water handle or starts to fall. Start your loved one’s bath before he or she ever comes to the bathroom, and place items such as shampoo and towels within your reach. Having the supplies ready can also help you finish the bath quickly so your loved one stays comfortable. 

Helping with everyday basic tasks such as bathing and toileting can be challenging for adult children of seniors with dementia. Luckily, there is dementia care Scottsdale families can rely on. Professional dementia caregivers help seniors with dementia stay safe and comfortable at home by preventing wandering, providing cognitive stimulation, and assisting with household chores.

Provide Simple Choices

Being bathed by someone else represents a loss of independence to seniors, even if they’re in the later stages of dementia. Offer your parent options that always have acceptable outcomes no matter what he or she decides. For instance, you could ask if your loved one wants to use a specific color washcloth. Alternatively, you could let him or her pick the scent of shampoo. Making decisions may help your loved one feel more in control of the bathing routine.

Choose the Best Time of Day

The evening is a time when many seniors exhibit behaviors that make bathing challenging. Try to plan your loved one’s bath for the time of day when he or she feels best. Whether the bath is after breakfast or first thing after lunch doesn’t matter as long as your loved one gets clean and goes along with the experience.

Adult children of seniors with dementia can easily feel overwhelmed by managing the responsibilities of caring for their parents, but help is available. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior home care Scottsdale, AZ, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Address the Fear of Water

The fear of water is difficult to overcome, but it helps to determine what it is about water that makes your loved one anxious. For instance, adding bubbles or color to the water makes it more visible to seniors with dementia and therefore less threatening. Other seniors may prefer to use a handheld showerhead so they can control how the water feels on their skin.

Establish a Relaxing Atmosphere

Take a cue from the spas and create a relaxing ambiance that alleviates your loved one’s anxiety. Try dimming the lights and turning on his or her favorite music. You can also add plants, pictures, and knickknacks to the bathroom to serve as distractions. If your parent starts to exhibit anxiety or resistance, simply shift his or her attention to a focal point and ask questions to distract your loved one from the task at hand.

Create a Sense of Privacy

Your parent may dread being bathed by his or her own child, especially if you’re of the opposite sex. In this case, try having a professional caregiver step in so bathing feels less personal for your parent. You can also use strategies such as covering mirrors in the bathroom and giving your loved one a bathing cape to wear. Using towels to drape your loved one can also work for respecting his or her dignity while also providing a sense of warmth.

In addition to assistance with bathing, a professional caregiver can help your parent with a variety of daily tasks. If your senior loved one needs professional in-home care in Scottsdale, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a trusted provider of respite and 24-hour care, and we also offer specialized Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, and stroke care for seniors. For compassionate, reliable in-home care, trust the experienced professionals from Home Care Assistance. Reach out to one of our dedicated Care Managers today at 480.448.6215 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.