At Home Helpers, we often come across clients who are resistant or hesitant to receive help with personal care. We stumbled upon this article from caring.com that might be of help to you or a loved one:
Caregiving is often an intimate business -- and the awkwardness about helping with personal care affects both sides: the helper and the helped.
You can help your loved one feel less embarrassed about being dependent during bathing, dressing, and toileting by trying tactics like the following. Bonus: They'll help lessen your uncomfortable feelings, too.
Put the situation in perspective. A caregiving adult child, for example, can remind a parent, "Just think about all those years you did these things for me." A spouse can invoke the "for better or worse" clause, reminding his or her mate that a partnership is meant to include these moments, too.
Give your loved one a little space to try. Even if you know the person can't manage a particular task without help, let him or her try, if an interest to do so is expressed. It can sometimes provide a measure of dignity -- and a lessened feeling of complete helplessness -- for a dependent person to at least make the attempt rather than having you rush in and do everything for him or her. Then when the struggle becomes obvious, you can gently say something like, "Here, let me help." Or, "Almost . . . try this."
Make a joke. Poke fun at a pair of absorbent underwear, the temperature of the water, the stubbornness of a sleeve that won't go on. Humor is not only distracting; it helps change the tone.
If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you may find it increasingly difficult to keep up with their personal hygiene. One of the biggest areas of concern that our clients’ loved ones have is the challenge of bathing.
Jumping in the shower may seem routine to you, but for someone with dementia, the experience can be quite the opposite. It’s very common for people with dementia to forget about, or even lose interest in bathing and changing their clothes. Understanding the cause may better help you determine your approach:
Lack Of Privacy
Many seniors were raised to think that washing and dressing should be intimate, private activities. Some have never dressed or undressed in front of others, which may lead to embarrassment or humiliation. They may refuse to change or bathe in front of others so they can hide incontinence issues.
- Pull down blinds, cover mirrors, and make sure the door is closed for added privacy.
- Approach the person with understanding and reassurance.
- Place a towel over the genitals and simply lift for washing if the person is uncomfortable with nudity.
- After washing, position towels over the person's lap and on the back of the wet shower chair for comfort and dignity.
- Keep them covered while you dress their top half first.
Remember that with dementia, your loved one’s depth perceptions may change, making them feel uncomfortable in small, dark places.
- Make sure that the bathroom is warm, well-lit, and inviting.
- Soft music may help make the environment more relaxing.
- Remove unnecessary clutter. Multiple bottles of shampoos and conditioners may be confusing.
- Keep water at a consistent, comfortable temperature.
- The sensation of water hitting your loved one in the shower may be perceived as painful. Try using a handheld shower wand.
- Spraying the head first can be frightening and cause an aggressive protective response. Start by showering the legs and move upwards to the chest and back.
- Try separating hair washing from bathing. Some people with dementia associate bathing with having their hair washed and become upset because water being poured over their head frightens them.
Remember that your loved one might not bathe as much as you do, nor do they need to. As people age, the body produces less oil, eliminating the need to shower every day. It is important that you do not impose your views about how often your loved one should bathe.
- Try to match your loved one’s bathing routine before the onset of dementia. If they always showered in the evening, set up an evening bathing schedule.
- Consider the time of day when your loved one is most relaxed and not exhausted.
Tasks are too complicated or confusing
Personal care (bathing, dressing, oral care) can be very confusing and complex with all of the steps involved.
- Break down each task into simple steps, while explaining each step. Use simple, respectful language.
- Try offering the person limited choices.
- Let your loved one feel the water before getting into the shower. Saying things like “The water feels nice” or “This feels so good”, can be reassuring and calming.
- Encourage your loved one to do as much as possible.
- Lay out the soap, washcloth, towel and clean clothes in a sequence so your loved one can use them as needed.
Always remember that patience is key. If your loved one shows signs of agitation, take some time to step back and regroup. Move onto another activity for a few minutes, then try again. If all else fails, sponge baths can be an option.
For help and information, contact the Alzheimer’s Association.
Home Helpers’ caregivers are trained and experience with Alzheimer’s and dementia. If you feel that you can no longer care for your loved one on your own, click HERE to learn how we can help.