People with dementia often have trouble keeping up with everyday hygiene. They may forget to bathe or to change their clothes. Or they may become confused or overwhelmed by the sequence of steps involved in personal hygiene. They may even become anxious or defensive when reminded to bathe or shower.
Establishing a hygiene routine is important to ensuring all residents receive the care they need. There are several things caregivers can do to help residents with dementia maintain their hygiene. Try these tips:
- Establish a consistent bathing routine. For example, have the resident bathe at the same time each day. Then break down the tasks into simple steps. Lay out the soap, washcloth and towel in the order they will be used so it is easier for the resident to follow.
- If the resident resists bathing, avoid giving too many choices. Rather than asking if he or she wants to take a bath, simply prepare the bath and invite the resident to begin.
- Provide privacy and as much independence as possible. Have the resident participate by holding the soap or washcloth, and washing as much as he or she is able.
- Use natural lighting so the resident feels comfortable in their surroundings. Use high-contrast colors on the outline or frame of the bathing system, doorways, and benches, so they are easy to see.
- Make safety a top priority. Have the resident sit on a shower or bath bench while bathing and drying off. Keep disinfection and cleaning liquids in a locked cabinet.
Above all, it’s important to approach residents with dementia about hygiene with reassurance and patience to preserve their dignity and minimise resistance.