Helping Your Loved One Shower

Today’s insight discusses helping your loved one shower. Let go of all your pre-conceived “rules” and use there techniques to improve success.

Transcription of Video:

Hi, I’m Deb Nygaard with Arthur’s Residential Care with today’s Insights from Arthur’s.

I’m here with Kate Jabe. Kate is the Residential Supervisor here at Arthur’s and she’s helping me to demonstrate today’s tip which is about helping a person with dementia to take a shower.

Now, one of the things that you need to do is let go of all the rules. If it takes four bath towels to give a person a shower, so be it. You can do laundry. If the shower time is a combative issue, you’d much rather do laundry if it means having an easier time giving someone a shower.

If your loved one thinks that they don’t need a shower, or if the whole bathing process is very frustrating for them, recognize that a few factors might be coming into play:

First of all, if the bathroom floor is really shiny, it could be triggering a glare that’s uncomfortable for their eyes. They might think, on any given day, that the floor is wet and be frightened to move. You could take a bath towel and cover the floor. (Lays out towel) So now this doesn’t look shiny and it’s not so threatening.

Another thing that you might use a bath towel for is covering the mirror. If Kate looks in the mirror and sees an old lady, and in her mind she’s a young woman, that can be very, very frightening.

If a person is time-traveling in their mind and feel that they’re younger, a stranger in the mirror, when they’re in the bathroom, is a terrifying thing. So you could take another bath towel and cover up the mirror. Hang that up and take care of that problem.

Now, Kate is a very modest woman and she doesn’t like this whole bathing process so another thing we can do for Kate is to cover her with a towel. (wraps Kate in towel) Now, she already feels less vulnerable in the bathroom because some of her private parts are covered.

With a man too, especially if it’s a female caregiver, we’re going to cover up that private area too.

If you take the handheld shower and start to get her towels wet…does it matter? Does it matter if the towels get wet if she feels more comfortable? No. So let some of that convention go. You can also recognize that sometimes a wet towel is uncomfortable so you can say, “Oh here, let me get that off of you.” You could actually start the shower by getting her clothes wet. Wet clothes are uncomfortable too. You could say, “Oh, let’s get those wet things off of you, that looks uncomfortable.”

For the next step, I want Kate to feel as comfortable as possible with me and so I want her to be involved with the showering process. Now, we talked before about approach and holding someone’s hand and having her hand be on top. (demonstrates hand holding) If I take the washcloth in my own fingers and I’ve still got her hand but I’ve got the washcloth, I can fool her mind into thinking that she’s in control while we wash her face.

I can give her some other visual cues like (rubs her own face) “Let’s wash your face first” and then, her hand is going along so she’s in control. (rubs underarm) “Let’s just get under here, ok? Should we do the other side too? Oh, that’s great, isn’t it?” Then, we can move down to some of the other areas.

I heard one time the phrase called the “week-long shower”. The idea was, today we’re going to do the arm pits. Tomorrow, we’re going to do another private area. You do what you can to keep a person fresh and clean and dignified.

I’m Deb Nygaard with Arthur’s Residential Care.

Contact Deb Nygaard
Director of Development
Arthur’s Residential Care: 651-429-4798