Elderly and Bathing: Respect and Safety

elderly and bathing

Taking care of an aging parent, spouse, or loved one at home is challenging—some moments more-so than others. For instance, you and your elderly loved one may not agree on a bathing schedule. Often the elderly are resistant in this area. Bathing a parent or loved one can also be uncomfortable, and even embarrassing, for everyone involved. However, cleanliness is a crucial part of health for the elderly, and it’s important to approach personal hygiene with respect, dignity, and safety.

Preparing to Bathe

Dementia Today points out that while baths are generally safer and more acceptable to those with Alzheimer’s or other dementia problems, bath time can still be a struggle. Establishing baths as part of a routine may help, but beyond that, remember to respect your loved one’s privacy as much as possible. Imagine what it would feel like to have somebody else in the bathroom with you, removing your clothes and putting you into the tub. Uncomfortable, isn’t it? Who wouldn’t resist? Allow the elderly person as much privacy and control over the task as possible, bearing physical and mental capacities in mind.

Safety Preparations

Remember that, as with everything, safety always comes first. Make your bathroom as safe as possible by installing a tub that is easy to enter and that features handrails and non-slip surfaces. Also, remember that elderly people often have thin skin. Keep fingernails—theirs and yours—clean and neatly trimmed to minimize the risk of tearing their skin. Draw the water and check the temperature of the bath before helping your loved one into the tub.

During the Process

Staying calm, and encouraging the person being bathed to remain calm, increases safety and even contributes to making the bath more enjoyable. Consider playing some relaxing music or, if you know a favorite song of the person, you might hum or sing it to them. Engage them in an unrelated conversation to distract them from the situation. Keep conversation light-hearted and friendly. Keep the tone very ‘matter-of-fact’ to minimize embarrassment. You may even want to explain what you’re doing, if that makes them feel more comfortable.

Listen to Your Heart

If bathing or other tasks are becoming a physical or emotional struggle, safety is bound to become compromised and relationships may become strained. When you find yourself dreading bath time or simply being unable to handle the task, it may be time to enlist the help of a home health care provider.

At David York Agency, it is our goal to provide in-home health care services that support the health, safety, and dignity of your loved one. Whether you just need a helping hand to better manage certain aspects of the caregiving responsibilities or you’re ready to find a full-time caregiver who can provide the constant care and attention your loved one needs, we can help.

For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate home caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you with the assistance you loved one needs as he or she ages. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.