Tips for Bathing a Senior with Dignity
July 5, 2017For many elderly adults, mobility issues, balance problems, dementia, and other issues can make bathing a tremendous challenge. Your aging parent might have difficulty bathing safely, might not understand how or why to bathe, or might struggle with issues that prevent them from going through the actual tasks of bathing. Helping them bathe might be one of the most important tasks that you handle for your senior, but it can also be very sensitive. Your parent might feel uncomfortable with you assisting with this type of task, or you might not feel emotionally prepared to handle this. Taking steps to maintain your loved one’s dignity while bathing them can help both of you get through this important task.Use these tips to help bathe your loved one with dignity:
- Offer a bathrobe. Encourage your loved one to change out of their clothing and into a bathrobe before going into the bathroom. If they are able to manage this safely on their own, it eliminates the discomfort of undressing in front of someone else.
- Wrap in a towel. Have your parent sit on a shower bench or shower chair wrapped in a towel. This way they can reveal one body part at a time for bathing, and remain covered for the rest of the process. Using a handheld shower head is the most convenient and effective means of accomplishing this.
- Cover your hands. Skin-to-skin contact can make the situation even more uncomfortable. Ease this by wearing rubber gloves or using a product such as a shower mitt to cover your hands while bathing them.
- Allow as much independence as possible. Even if your parent is not able to bathe themselves completely, they are likely to still be able to handle some basic tasks. Encourage them to do as much for themselves as possible. This might be as simple as using a sponge with a long handle to wash their own back or washing sensitive areas of their body themselves.
- Talk throughout the experience. Remain casual while bathing your parent. Carry on a conversation, let them know what you are going to do next, and keep them relaxed. This will help them to feel less uncomfortable or awkward about the situation, and more like you are doing this out of love rather than obligation.