Finding Dementia-Friendly Approaches To Bathing Care Recipients

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Dementia-friendly approaches to bathing care recipients

Many people unknowingly refer to dementia as a disease. In actuality, it’s a term that describes a number of symptoms related to a decline in memory and other cognitive brain functions. When a person suffers from dementia, he/she experiences difficulty thinking and performing routine daily activities. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases.

A dementia-friendly approach to dementia services involves a lot more than simply catering to the physical needs of individuals who are contending with the condition. It’s an approach to providing care that involves as much attention to a patient’s emotional well-being as it does to his/her physical needs.

Also Read: 3 Ways to Help Seniors Overcome Their Fear of Falling

For Caregivers of Dementia Patients, the Bathing Process Can Be Especially Difficult

As Carol Bradley Bursack explains on, the memory loss suffered by dementia patients can lead them to believe they just showered when, in reality, they haven’t bathed in weeks. As a possible solution for caregivers, she suggests offering care recipients incentives for taking their baths.

“If you feel that the reason a senior isn’t bathing is that they think they’ve already done it, or they just don’t see the importance of it, try associating the process with something they enjoy,” Bursack advises, “Give them a fun incentive to cooperate. For example, say, ‘Let’s both get cleaned up and then we’ll go to your favorite restaurant for lunch.’”

Senior care with dementia

Use a Pre-Existing Opportunity to Begin the Bathing Process

Another dementia-friendly approach to bathing care recipients is to begin the process at a time that is most convenient for them. Are they cranky in the morning? If so, perhaps it’s best to wait until later in the day. Are they particularly fatigued before bed? Maybe morning baths are better options. The Family Caregiver Alliance suggests that you try to bathe your dementia patients shortly after they begin undressing for other reasons, such as when someone is sitting on the toilet and has clothes partly off anyway.

“Or in the morning when changing out of sleeping clothes,” they continue on their website, “However, sometimes you will be more successful if you wait until the afternoon when you might not have other things to do, and you can approach bathing in a slower, calmer manner.”

Also Read: Working To Prevent Slips And Falls In The Bathroom

Senior bathing

Communicate While Helping the Senior Bathe

Talk through the process. Communicate everything you’re doing. It’s also important to make sure your dementia patient is given the confidence to ask questions. Being transparent and giving your care recipient the opportunity to speak his/her mind is often an excellent way to ensure understanding.

“The senior may not understand exactly what you are saying, but it will help keep them calm and included in the process,” writes Bursack, “Surprises can lead to agitation, anger, and confusion. Describe your every move in a low, soothing voice. For example, say, ‘I’m going to wipe your face with this warm cloth, okay?’ Or, ‘I’m going to lift your arm and wash, but I’ll keep you warm and comfortable under this blanket.’”

Also Read: Is Your Elderly Loved One Refusing To Bathe?

At Forward Day, we were highly motivated to create our Shower Bay portable showers to help seniors who battle with dementia. Learn all about them by calling us at 1-877-593-4461 or emailing us at

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