July 10, 2019

Senior hygiene can be difficult when facing resistance from those with Alzheimer’s.

Out of all the challenges pertaining to providing care for a senior loved one with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association reveals that the most prevalent difficulty is with personal hygiene, for many different reasons:

  • Diminished sense of vision and smell
  • Comfort associated with familiarity (for example, wishing to wear the exact same clothes over and over again)
  • The complexities of bathing, compounded by cognitive impairment and confusion
  • Anxiety about falling, the sounds and sensations associated with the water, and much more

Cajoling, arguing, and logical thinking are seldom practical techniques with those impacted by Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Rather, try out these innovative techniques in the event a senior loved one resists maintaining appropriate hygiene:

  • Arrange the bathroom ahead of time so the room is likely to be comfortable and you will not have to juggle gathering supplies in conjunction with assisting your senior loved one. Heat up the room with a space heater, and put soap, shampoo, towels, washcloth, etc. within easy reach, as well as clear away any throw rugs or other tripping dangers.
  • A shower chair and hand-held sprayer may make an even more calming bathing experience for individuals with dementia. Face the chair away from the faucet, and use towels to cover up parts of the body both before and after they have been washed to help keep your loved one warm and to avoid feelings of exposure.
  • Have your senior loved one help with bathing tasks if possible to maintain independence. It may be as basic as providing a washcloth or the shampoo bottle for the older adult to hold on to.
  • If hair washing is challenging for either of you, forego that activity during bath time, and plan weekly visits to the salon instead.
  • Schedule a special excursion together with the senior, such as a lunch date with a good friend, and center bath time around getting ready for the event.
  • Bring in a healthcare professional, who can instruct the senior on the heightened risk of infection or skin problems if proper hygiene is not followed. Quite often hearing from a trusted third party holds more weight than from a relative.
  • Engage the services of a caregiver, enabling a senior loved one the dignity of having personal care needs tended to by an expert, rather than a relative.

At Continuum, each of our caregivers is experienced in safe senior hygiene procedures for senior loved ones, with specific training to help individuals with Alzheimer’s disease feel at ease with personal hygiene tasks, including creative approaches to safe bathing, skin, hair, and oral care, restroom help and support, and more. Contact us at (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 for the Alzheimer’s care St. Louis seniors and their families deserve!