If you are a caregiver to someone with Alzheimer’s disease, managing bathroom activities can be difficult and uncomfortable. “Even though the person with Alzheimer’s disease may not be able to take a bath or go to the toilet safely by themselves, they may still be embarrassed about being undressed and ashamed of needing help. The experience may be just as uncomfortable for the caregiver. Especially if the caregiver is a child or relative,” says Lisa P. Gwyther, MSW.
Here are some tips that may help when bathing a loved one who has Alzheimer’s:
• Make Bathing Part of a Regular Routine: Routine is very helpful to a person who has Alzheimer’s, so pick a time of day that is quiet and calm, and stick with it.
• Remember that Privacy Matters: Gwyther suggests that you should let your loved one get into the bath with some light clothes on and always try to be calm, gentle, and respectful while you assist.
• Make Sure the Bath is Warm, but Not Too Hot: The bath should be a comfortable temperature.
• Put Safety First: Always think of safety first. Never leave your loved one alone in the bath, and consider investing in handrails and nonskid safety mats.
Many people who have Alzheimer’s have problems going to the toilet, often lacking bladder control. Here are some tips that may help with toileting issues, for those with Alzheimer’s:
• Establish a Routine: Put together a routine that gets your loved one into the bathroom frequently during the day.
• Recognize the Signs: You should tune in to behaviors that signal that your loved one needs to go to the bathroom–such as pulling or fussing with clothing or squirming around in a chair.
• Stay Calm: Accidents will occur, so stay calm. If you get upset, it will just make your loved one upset as well, and the situation more difficult to handle.
• Try Some Preventive Measures: It may help to limit fluids before bedtime; and also be aware that constipation is a problem among people with Alzheimer’s. “When a person with Alzheimer’s is constipated, it can really affect their mood and behavior. Medication to promote regular bowel movements can help,” says Gwyther.
• Be Prepared: Accidents are likely to be more frequent as time goes on. If you are away from home, make sure you know where the nearest bathrooms are. Bring an extra set of clothes in case of accidents.
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