If you are on an elder care journey with a senior with Alzheimer’s disease, you are going to face a variety of challenges. One of the most difficult will likely be fulfilling the bathing needs of your loved one. For many aging adults, bathing is one of the most stressful and even frightening experiences that they have, and this resistance can lead to many problems for both you and your senior, including emotional distress, frustration, and even physical danger. By dealing with your parent’s resistance to bathing you can help make the process less stressful and upsetting for everyone involved, and ensure that your parent gets the personal care and support that they need to stay healthy.
• Acknowledge their needs are different. You likely bathe or shower daily or at the very least every other day. While this is what makes you comfortable and may be what you think is “right”, it may not be necessary for your loved one. It is important that you acknowledge that your parent’s needs are different when it comes to staying clean and healthy. Unless they are very active or suffer from incontinence, they do not need to bathe as frequently as they did when they were younger. Two full showers each week and intermittent sponge baths or “bird baths” is perfect sufficient for most aging adults. By accepting this you can reduce the number of uncomfortable situations that your parent encounters and take a lot of pressure off of yourself.
• Accept the reason. Your parent is not just trying to be difficult by being resistant to bathing. They are not just trying to make your care efforts more challenging or to frustrate you. Accept that your parent does not have control over their cognitive decline and memory loss, and is not capable of changing those behaviors. This can help you to shift your focus from being angry with your parent to feeling greater compassion.
• Address the reason. In some situations you may not be able to decipher a clear reason why your parent is being resistant to bathing. In others, however, there may be a motivating factor that does not make sense to you, but does to your parent. Try to find this underlying reason and do what you can to address it. For example, if your parent does not remember the need to bathe, explain it in simple, supportive terms such as “it will make you feel better” or “your skin needs to be clean for you to be healthy”. If they think that they have already bathed, consider making a calendar that marks when they last took a shower so that they can visually keep track.
• Get help. For many seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, the thought of an adult child handling bathing tasks is extremely embarrassing and distressing. They may be very modest and detest the idea of you being a part of this private care activity. Whether this is the case or it is you who feels uncomfortable with the process, an elder health care service provider can be a vital source of support, assistance, and personalized, respectful care that lets you step back from this situation and still feel confident your parent will get the care they need.
If you or an aging loved one who has dementia are considering in-home Elder Care in Oak Park IL, please contact the caring staff at Big Hearts Home Care today!