You might have already tried a lot of different techniques to convince your senior that bathing is something that she needs to do and that can be enjoyable. But seniors with dementia have some very valid fears about bathing, and that can cause the experience to become a bit of a battle.
Avoid Arguing Before a Battle Even Starts
If you’re trying to use reasoning with your senior, that’s more likely to cause an argument. If you let it get to that stage, you’re going to “lose”, and the situation won’t get better. The better path is to focus on keeping the conversation as positive as possible. Offer rewards along with the information about bathing. You can distract her with statements that let her know what you’ll do together after the bath or shower. The promise of something more enjoyable can help to redirect her.
Make Some Form of Bathing Part of Every Day
People who are dealing with dementia like to have a structure to their day. It helps them to feel as if they know what to expect and it’s comforting. If you’ve got a schedule now where your senior bathes every couple of days, that might be more troubling for her than simply bathing every day. When something is part of her regular routine, she may be less likely to be upset by the activity.
Avoid Surprises as Much as Possible
Surprises and sudden changes just don’t work well for seniors with dementia. If you’re not giving her much warning about bathing or you’re surprising her during the bath, she’s going to experience that as a negative experience. Give your senior choices whenever you can, even in the middle of the bath and be sure to let her know what’s happening next.
Keep the Bathroom and Towels Warm
One reason that your senior may not like bathing is that she gets cold and uncomfortable when she disrobes to get into a warm bath or shower, then she’s uncomfortable again when she gets back out. Keeping the bathroom warm can help a bit with that. If it’s at all possible to keep the towels warm, that can help, too. Not everyone has the space or the budget for a towel warmer, so another option might be to run the towels in the dryer for a few minutes and then fold them to hold in the warmth. They’ll be warmer at the end of the bath than if you hadn’t taken a few minutes to do that.
If you and your senior still aren’t seeing eye to eye about bathing, it might be time to let someone else help her with the task. Home care services providers are experienced in helping with personal care tasks while reducing angst about them.