July 15, 2019 by
Of the many challenges pertaining to providing independent living and home health care for a senior loved one with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association indicates that the most prevalent challenge is with personal hygiene, for a number of reasons:
- Decreased sense of vision and smell
- Comfort found in familiarity (in other words, wanting to wear the same clothes over and over again)
- The difficulties of bathing, compounded by cognitive impairment and confusion
- Fear of falling, the sounds and feelings associated with the water, and more
Cajoling, arguing, and reasoning are seldom practical methods to employ with those impacted by Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia. Instead, consider these creative strategies if your loved one resists maintaining appropriate hygiene:
- Arrange the bathroom beforehand so the room will be comfortable and you won’t have to juggle gathering supplies in conjunction with assisting the senior. Warm up the room with a space heater. Put soap, shampoo, towels, washcloth, etc. within easy reach, and remove any throw rugs or any other tripping dangers.
- A shower chair and hand-held sprayer commonly make for an even more calming bathing experience for those with dementia. Position the chair away from the faucet, and utilize towels to cover areas of the body before and after they’ve been washed in order to keep the loved one warm and to prevent feelings of exposure.
- Have the senior loved one help with showering tasks as much as possible to promote independence. It could be as simple as offering a washcloth or even the shampoo bottle for the senior to hold on to.
- If hair washing is hard for either of you, forego that task during bath time, and set up regular trips to the salon.
- Arrange a special excursion with the senior, such as a dinner date with a friend. Center bath time around getting ready for the occasion.
- Bring in the recommendation of a healthcare professional, who can advise the senior in regards to the heightened risk of infection or skin problems without proper hygiene. Quite often hearing from a dependable third party holds more weight than from family members.
- Engage the services of a caregiver, allowing the senior the dignity of having personal care needs tended to by a professional, rather than a relative.
At Home Independent Living’s caregivers are proficient in safe hygiene procedures for older adults, with specialized training to aid individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in feeling safer with personal hygiene tasks, including creative approaches to safe bathing, skin, hair, and oral care, restroom assistance, and much more. Contact us at (315) 579-4663 to learn practical solutions to the concerns you and your loved one are facing!