l68514-bathtub-icon-24924 Written by: Gail Shaw, Care Coordinator –

Bathing is something we all do, but as we age we may need some assistance with this daily activity. We may need assistance getting into the tub or shower. We may need help to actually do the bathing. For those with memory loss, there may need to be some coaxing, followed up with reassurance that the bathing experience will be quick and painless. Others may just feel more comfortable with having someone in the home while they take their own shower.

As a licensed home service agency, St. John’s caregivers are able to assist clients with activities of daily living and bathing is one of those activities. Bathing oneself may seem straight forward but bathing another can be a challenge, especially if the one in need has memory loss. To help our caregivers out, they receive training on how to make the experience less challenging and more pleasurable for the client.

Family caregivers may find themselves in a new position of having to bathe their loved one. Sometimes that works out well, but others may find this hard to accomplish for a variety of reasons. It’s not uncommon for a family member to have problems getting their loved one with memory loss to bathe. St. John’s Home Services may be the answer. Our caregivers assist many dementia clients and frail clients with successful bathing routines.

Several things may help make the bathing experience more pleasurable for all concerned. First, it is nice to know what the preferences are of the one needing a bath. Staying close to the client’s long-time held routines makes more sense than trying to reinvent how they should bathe. Some clients do not like showers but are very willing to just have a sponge bath. One client with memory loss stated she did not like having a shower because she felt like she was being assaulted by the water. Being able to use a hand-held unit was more acceptable to her. Next, having appropriate bath equipment makes it much easier for the one who is giving the bath/shower. This may include having a hand-held shower unit, grab bars and a bath bench. The Medical Loan Closet at St. John’s Community Care has bath chairs or bath benches to loan out, along with other items to help.

Some other suggestions that make the job easier include decluttering the bathroom. Individuals with memory loss may find a cluttered bathroom too distracting. Keeping it simple is the best. Always have bathing/grooming supplies and clothes in the room, close at hand. Caregivers have mentioned that removing the glass sliding doors is helpful. It is very hard to transfer and bathe someone when the tub has sliding doors still attached.

Individuals like to do as much of the bathing process as they can. Our caregivers are always respectful of the client’s needs and wants. I have had many of our female clients mention they truly enjoyed having their hair washed by a caregiver who massaged the scalp. It is also not uncommon to hear about how the caregiver will get into the shower along with the client since it makes it easier to shower some individuals.

Bathing is beneficial in many ways—mentally, physically and emotionally. We always seem to feel better after it is done. If you are experiencing any difficulties with getting your loved one to bathe, call St. John’s Community Care at 618-344-5008. Together we can work out a plan to bathe your family member on a regular basis or help you find out what bath equipment is best for your home needs. Maybe all you need are some suggestions to address your challenges.