How Do You Bathe an Aging Loved One with Dementia?

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Tips for Bathing an Aging Loved One with Dementia in Roseville, CA

It’s important that seniors with dementia bathe on a regular basis. If your senior loved one has cognitive deficits, he or she may also have incontinence problems, which can lead to skin excoriation if irritating urine and stool aren’t thoroughly cleaned during a daily bath. Here are some tips that may make it easier to bathe someone with dementia.

Explain the Steps

Dementia can cause fear, uncertainty, and apprehension. To effectively bathe your loved one, gently explain each step of the bathing process. When your loved one knows what you’ll be doing while you bathe him or her, he or she may be able to relax more so you can finish giving the bath. 

Caring for seniors with dementia can be challenging for family caregivers. Luckily, there is dementia care Roseville 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. 

Allow Participation

Giving your loved one choices may make him or her feel more in control and reduce bath time stress. Allowing your loved one to use the washcloth to wash his or her face may provide a sense of accomplishment that instills more confidence. Giving some control to your loved one may also make him or her more amenable to receiving help with other activities of daily living, including dressing, grooming, and eating.

Give a Bed Bath if Needed

In certain cases, a senior with dementia may be unable or unwilling to get into or stay in a bathtub. For this reason, you may need to consider giving your loved one a bed bath. A bed bath may also be a better option for seniors who experience limited mobility, chronic pain, or impaired vision. 

Taking a tub bath can be stressful for people who have dementia or are too ill to sit in a tub of water. For example, if your loved one has an infection with a fever, sitting in a bathtub may cause shivering and chills, as will drying off when getting out of the tub. A quick but thorough bed bath can alleviate some of the anxiety that may be associated with a tub bath. 

Family caregivers can sometimes be overwhelmed by managing the responsibilities of caring for loved ones with dementia, 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 elderly home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Be Gentle

It’s extremely important to be gentle when giving a bath to a senior who has dementia. For example, when washing your loved one’s hair, don’t scrub his or her scalp vigorously, even if the hair is greasy. Instead, gently rub the scalp with your fingertips and reapply shampoo if necessary. Use copious amounts of water to rinse the hair clean so all traces of shampoo will be removed. Scrubbing the scalp or using a rough washcloth may cause your loved one to become agitated. If you believe a washcloth may be irritating to the skin, simply bathe your loved one gently with your hands. Dementia and other forms of cognitive impairment can increase the perception of pain or irritation in certain people. Seniors with dementia may also be more sensitive to things that rub against their skin, such as rough fabrics.

Bathing is just one of the many everyday tasks a professional caregiver can help your elderly loved one perform. If your senior loved one needs professional in-home care in Roseville, 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. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (916) 226-3737 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.


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