Caring for a person with dementia can be challenging. Helping with bathing and personal hygiene can be increasingly hard as the disease gets worse. The person with dementia may be resistant to bathing or getting dressed. Each person should have an individualized plan of care related to bathing and maintaining good personal hygiene. Here are some general approaches to address resistance to bathing.
Use a soft voice.
Choose a time when the person is most rested and least confused.
Consider the person’s lifelong preferences:
Shower vs. bath
Morning vs. evening
Maintain a leisurely pace. Avoid rushing the person.
Give pain medications at least half an hour before bathing if pain with movement is an issue.
Allow the person to wear underwear or a loose-fitting housecoat/duster/gown if desired.
Avoid spraying water directly on the head or face.
Pantomime the desired hygiene activities.
Use distraction: conversation, snacks, or music.
When complete, give praise for clean appearance.
Adapted from Schwartzkopf, C. E. & Twigg, P. (2014). Nursing management of dementia. In K. L. Mauk’s (Ed.) Gerontological Nursing: Competencies for Care. Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. Used with permission.
Problems with Bathing in Persons with Dementia