Caregiver You Are Not Alone: Joy’s Story

Bath Time in Dementia Land

Being a dementia caregiver means choosing one’s battles. One that people often struggle with is getting the person in care to shower or bathe. They will refuse day after day, sometimes for weeks. Odor becomes a problem and we become concerned about the effect on their health.

Why does someone suddenly avoid feeling clean? There can be many reasons when the dementia brain is involved:

Fear of the bathroom. It’s often very white and sounds echo. There are usually mirrors in there.

If dementia has taken them back in time and they believe they are in their 40’s, seeing a 70 or 80 year old looking at them when the enter the room can be frightening.

Water suddenly hitting their sensitive skin can hurt. And because it’s clear, they can’t see it. So, there we are insisting they enter a scary place, naked, where their body is pummeled by an unseen source.

They may have body issues and not want to be seen naked. Or, they may not remember how to remove their clothes.

So, what does a caregiver do?

Suggest, don’t insist that it’s bath time.

If the answer is no, let go and try again later.

Cover the mirrors and lower the lighting.

Make sure the room is warm.

If they refuse to remove their clothing, leave it on. Soap and water go through fabric. They can wash through the cloth. It won’t be perfect but it will be an improvement and maybe next time it won’t be so difficult for either of you.

And one more thing, when you have an opportunity to get in the shower, make the most of it. Enjoy the warmth and comfort, you have earned it.

I look forward to hearing from you.

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