When caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, managing bathroom activities can be difficult and uncomfortable. Lisa P. Gwyther, MSW, head of family support program at Duke University Medical Center, in Durham, N.C., “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.” In addition, bathing could be a frightening experience for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s Home Care: Bathing
The following are tips for bathing an individual with Alzheimer’s.
- Make bathing part of a regular routine: “Routines help people with Alzheimer’s disease a lot,” says Cheryl Woodson, MD, director of the Woodson Center for Adult Healthcare, in Chicago Heights, Ill. “Maybe you can bathe at regular times with regular cues, perhaps after a meal or a favorite TV show.”
- Remember privacy matters: It is important to remember that bathing may be embarrassing or frightening for the person with Alzheimer’s. Gwyther suggests letting them get into the bath with light clothes on.
- Make sure the bath is warm, but not too hot.
- Put safety first: Never leave them in the bath alone, install handrails and put down non-slip mats.
Alzheimer’s Home Care: Toileting
Some tips to help with toileting are:
- Establish a routine: This gets the person into the bathroom throughout the day.
- Recognize the signs of having to use the bathroom
- Stay calm: When accidents occur, stay calm so that the patient won’t get upset and you don’t make the situation more difficult to handle.
- Try preventative measures: Limit liquids before bedtime and realize that constipation can be a problem too. “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.