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Bathing an Alzheimer's Patient

Bathing an Alzheimer's Patient

One of the more challenging tasks of caring for Alzheimer’s patients is bathing. It is often met with resistant behavior because the client may feel threatened or uncomfortable because she may no longer have the patience or memory to handle the immodesty and other discomforts that come along with this activity.

Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairment may also feel a loss of independence and privacy. Many adults with dementia are also faced with increased sensitivity to water pressure and temperature.

Before Bathing

To make an Alzheimer’s patient more comfortable when bathing, let her do as much as possible. A care provider can assist if necessary, but it all depends on what stage of the disease your loved one is facing. More assistance is needed as it progresses. You can prepare for a bath by:

  • Gathering supplies ahead of time
  • Making the bathroom a comfortable temperature
  • Monitoring the temperature of the water
  • Placing all supplies within reach

Bathroom Safety

Staying safe during a bath or shower is another challenge care providers can have with Alzheimer’s patients. Some tips to remember include:

  • Installing grab bars
  • Placing non-skid mats and rugs on floor
  • Cleaning up puddles as they happen
  • Turning down the temperature on your hot water tank
  • Never leaving the patient alone in the bathroom
  • Installing a shower seat

Coping Strategies

The best way to overcome the challenges of bathing an Alzheimer’s patient is to come up with some coping strategies. While they may not work for every person every time, care providers can try different situations until she finds what works best. Some of the coping mechanisms include:

  • Setting up a routine so bath time is the same time and days of the week
  • Creating an environment of privacy with closed shades, blinds, and doors
  • Offering a reward system such as a favorite activity or food once the bath is done
  • Using dry shampoo or shampoo a patient’s hair at a salon
  • Using a hand-held shower attachment to make washing and rinsing easier

Preparing bath ahead of time with appropriate water level in the tub



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