Washing and bathing are some of the most intensely private activities in which we engage. Being washed and bathed by someone else can be embarrassing and make individuals feel shameful.
To respect the dignity of the person you care for, remind them that it is normal for people in their condition to need help. You’re there to be helpful, so don‘t hesitate to tell them that you don’t judge them or make them feel uncomfortable.
Some people become fearful of bathwater as they age, while others can feel overwhelmed by overhead showerheads.If possible, arrange to have their bathroom fitted with useful bathing and shower adaptations. These include specialised recliners and tub seats, which can go a long way in reducing anxiety around slips and falls. There are also shampoo caps available for people with a water phobia, which will wash their hair without the use of water.
In order to make the bathing experience as comfortable and pleasant as possible, follow these bathing solutions for the elderly:
- Ask them if they want and need your help and allow them as much independence/privacy as is safe.
- Play music or a radio programme that they enjoy, and that they are familiar with.
- Use a handheld shower nozzle to help them reach all areas of their body.
- If the person is confused or disoriented, gently explain what is happening as you go.
- If the person is extremely resistant, consider trying again in a few hours. If this does not help, you may need to give them a sponge bath or bed bath. Try to use, and that are pH balanced to prevent dryness.
- If appropriate, consider donning your own swimming costume and demonstrate some of the washing motions. This may help to jog their memory of bathing.
After their bath and/or shower, ensure that they are completely dry. Getting them dressed while they’re still damp or wet can lead to skin irritation. Towel dry them and then allow them to air dry for a few more minutes. If they have rolls of skin or fat, ensure these areas are fully dry. You can also apply lotions or powders, using skincare products designed for these unique needs.