Dementia Care: When a Loved One Refuses to Bathe

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Getting Dementia Patients to Bathe

Dementia affects the mental state of a person and can drastically shift the way he or perceives reality. As a result, it is common for seniors with dementia to refuse to perform regular daily activities such as bathing. If you have an aging parent or loved one who refuses to bathe, the professional caregivers at Westport Home Care Assistance offer a few strategies for helping him or her be more comfortable with personal hygiene activities.

Understand Dementia Symptoms

The first step in helping your loved one is to understand how they have been affected by dementia. Seniors living with this memory condition experience loss of memory, independence and self, an inability to focus or remember, and depression. These symptoms can lead to reactions ranging from simple stubbornness to complete refusal of care. It’s important to understand how your loved one may be feeling so you can provide care that is comforting, helpful, and non-threatening.

Provide Incentive

It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly why a senior loved one may not want to bathe, however, in some cases, a bit of incentive goes a long way. Explain to your loved one that it’s important to bathe before doing the next task. For instance, bathing is important in the morning so fresh clothes can be put on and breakfast can be served, or bathing is important at night your loved one can brush teeth and get into bed.

Create a Calm Environment

Noises, bright lights, and other distractions can make the symptoms of dementia more difficult to manage and can, in turn, make bathing seem like a frightening or stressful experience. Try to make the bathroom as comfortable of a space as possible by adjusting lighting, turning the heater on so it isn’t cold getting in and out of the shower or bath, and removing any clutter that may be distracting to your loved one.

Encourage Independence

Seniors with dementia may resist performing activities where they feel like they’re being controlled. Do your best to encourage your loved one to do as much as safely possible on their own. For family members who have a bit of trouble determining how much help to offer, professional in-home caregivers are a great option for help as well. These individuals are trained to assist seniors with personal care activities, ensuring as much independence as possible while providing help with the utmost dignity and respect.


Control Your Emotions

It can be difficult and frustrating when an aging parent or loved one becomes combative, but keep in mind that seniors with dementia often base their own emotions off of those they trust. By controlling your emotions and staying calm and level headed, you are more likely to encourage your loved one to do as you ask.

If you feel your loved one’s symptoms are more than you can care for independently, call (203) 955-1915 and request a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a friendly Care Manager from Home Care Assistance of Fairfield. We are a trusted, local provider of senior home care, offering specialized dementia care for seniors in Westport and the surrounding communities. Learn how our trained caregivers can enhance safety, maximize comfort, and promote your loved one’s quality of life.


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