Regardless of age, hygiene would remain the most important for any person. Older people however are of the utmost importance, given that we need to give them more attention and care. Without hygiene, they are more prone to diseases and health issues.
That being said, caretakers or caregivers, or any family member must be very careful while bathing the family’s elder members who need help bathing. Without doubt, many caregivers (both professional or family) probably believe that bathing an elder member is one of the greatest challenges they face but it need not be so.
Senior members dealing with a major health crisis like dementia or arthritis even feel uneasy while they bathe. Therefore they neglect and avoid taking a bath, which becomes all the more difficult for the caregiver to bathe them. One cannot blame them as most accidents occur in the bathroom when it comes to people over 65.
This is a vulnerable age, disabled or not, mostly older people and senior adults are afraid of falling or tripping on wet or uneven floors. They need support to walk, which makes them scared of bathing altogether, let alone entering a bathroom.
There’s no other way than to lead them and to support them because even supportive equipment and aids like wheelchairs and hand support gear in the bathroom cannot be much help when it comes to mobility, and therefore, this makes bathing really difficult.
So whether you are a professional or personal caregiver, it is crucial to know the basics of how to bathe a senior member. One cannot afford to be careless or be unaware of essential tips to keep in mind while bathing a senior member.
Following are Some Tips for Bathing Elderly Persons to Keep in Mind:
Take Advantage of Accessories and Equipment.
Before you start with anything, you should make sure that the bathroom is safe and convenient for the older person to enter. You can either get some bath aids and equipment or lend a helping hand to make sure they’re comfortable while they’re in the bathroom. You can protect your clothing by wearing a plastic apron, and instead of a bar of soap, you can use liquid soap for bathing a senior member.
It would be best if you install nonslip adhesives on the floor and grab bars around the shower or bathtub to eliminate the chances of your elderly loved one falling and slipping. If they like to soak in a deep bath, you can use a bath lift chair or an inflatable cushion to lift them in and out of the bath.
Use a Chair
As mentioned earlier, people in the age range of 65 and above are fragile, and they can have all kinds of fears while they’re in the bathroom. People who are more prone to falling or tripping or people who have fallen previously and therefore developed a fear of falling again should be given a chair to make them feel comfortable. It will also be easier for the caregivers as they will not be multitasking while helping the senior loved one during the process, and also, they will get less wet.
Be Gentle yet Casual
It would be best if you kept things natural and not make it obvious that you are bathing them. Be very gentle with them while you bathe them, but also make sure you maintain a relaxed composure while bathing them. The more calm and confident you are, the less conscious your senior loved one is going to get.
Keep them Comfortable and Entertained
The process of bathing an elderly loved one can become all the more tiring and confusing for them if they are dealing with cognitive disabilities. Such seniors would struggle more while bathing and the best thing that you can do as a caregiver is to distract them and entertain them as much as you can. Distract them by playing some relaxing songs so that they feel calmer or give them a waterproof toy so that they are amused.
Modesty and Dignity Should Be a Priority
Although the senior loved ones appreciate the help and the care that you are offering them, it can get a little embarrassing for them to involve another person in an intimate routine like bathing. Make sure you have a swimsuit or a small body towel wrapped around their body. Also they can hold it till the time they are being bathed. This will not make them fully conscious of the activity and would instead consider it as any other regular chore.
Communication is the Key
You can try a hundred things to make the elderly feel comfortable that may or may not work. The most effective way to make them feel safe and secure is when you talk to them gently and softly every day using a calm reassuring and friendly tone. Even if they act grumpy try not to get upset. Ask them questions about their daily routine, bath time preferences, hygiene products, etc. This way, they would feel connected to you and respected.
Having to bathe an elderly loved one is sure not easy for anyone. However, keep in mind that it is not easy for them as well. Whatever be the case, it is of utmost importance that they get to have a comfortable, dignified bath and be healthy and hygienic notwithstanding the hurdles.
Written By Traci Cole, MBA, MEM, and Co-founder & Caregiver at Dignity Bath, a business professional and entrepreneur with diverse experience in marketing strategy and branding, product development, consulting, and CAREGIVING.
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