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Teaching Now Living: Part 6- The Challenge of Bathing

Ellie had a fall 3 years ago in the bathroom at her families’ lake house, resulting in her fracturing the shoulder of her dominate hand. She has not felt comfortable bathing independently since the fall, due to her fear of falling. Her daughter had worked with a wonderful personal care aide years ago named Lauren. Sarah was lucky enough to get Lauren to help with her Mother’s bathing 2-3 times per week.

The bathroom is now set up with a walk in shower, shower chair, hand-held shower, grab bars, non-slip shower surface and a non-slip bath mat. Lauren has made bathing a pleasurable experience for Ellie. She uses Ellie’s favorite soap and shampoo, warms her bathrobe and towel in the clothes dryer. Lauren massages Ellie’s shoulders, arms, back and legs with lotion and even paints her nails after showering. Lauren has made Ellie’s shower days an enjoyable spa like experience.

When Lauren goes on vacation, Sarah fills in and helps her Mom with the bathing. Ellie tells her daughter “you don’t do things right, you are supposed to warm my towel and robe and spend more time massaging lotion on my shoulders and back”.

Tip: Bathing is the number one activity where caregivers get hurt. Change the experience utilize music, relaxing scents, warm the bathroom, instead of bathe change the wording to freshen up, prepare for visitors etc. Many times as people progress with Alzheimer’s they don’t like to shower. It can be scary to have water rushing in their face. There are many ways we can bathe our loved ones-in a shower chair, standing at the sink, sitting on a chair, in a tub, etc.

Rules to guide bathing:

  1. Never bathe someone against their will

  2. Make bathing a pleasurable experience

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