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1/10/19 I was just talking on the phone with a potential client who said, "We battle with her regarding getting a shower..."
Unfortunately, this is common for Elders with dementia. Fortunately, there are some tried and true things for you to try before becoming frustrated:
(Remember: The Elder is incapable of changing how they feel about something, may not be able to communicate well with you and cannot change how they do something. So who is the one who will need to change? (Right. You.)
One person in the bathroom with Elder
Quiet, soft, non-demanding voice
Do not be in a hurry. Leave yourself an hour for the shower and dressing routine, if at all possible.
Allowing the Elder to feel cold or exposed will backfire on you.
1. Warm up the bathroom with a space heater until YOU are uncomfortably warm (+/-80degrees)
2. Warm up 2 dry towels in the dryer and bring them in to the warm bathroom
3. Provide a seat for the Elder
4. Kneel down to look at them eye-to-eye
5. Use non-threatening therapeutic touch and a gentle voice
6. See if they will hold your hand palm to palm (their dominant side)
7. Let them know that you are going to help them "get cleaned up."
8. "Would you like me to help you take your shirt off, or would you prefer to do it yourself?" Or: "Can you take off your shirt so we can get you washed up?"
9. Make sure that warm towel is going over the client's back before, or immediately upon them taking off the shirt. Allowing the Elder to feel cold or exposed will backfire on you.
10. Make sure to get the shower water on warm, not hot and not cold.
11. If they don't want to take off bra or underwear - that is okay to bathe them with the clothes on, isn't it? We are working on gaining trust. Once the underwear get wet, they may decide it's okay to remove them.
12. Place the other warm towel on their lap to respect modesty
13. Allow them to go into the shower with the towels on, if they feel more comfortable (If you've been battling so far, please try this.)
14. Don't start with the shower on the head or face. Start with the feet, legs or back to get them used to the water.
15. If your client can stand up for some part of the shower, get the wet towels out of their way to prevent a trip hazard.
16. Use a hand held shower device to rinse the perineal (diaper) area well.
17. Make sure to allow them to have as much independence as possible. (ask, "would you like me to wash your back?" - I've learned most Elders will accept this for help.)
18. Keep the heat on (I know, you are really sweating,) while the Elder gets dried and dressed in the bathroom.
Let me know how this works for you.
There are some excellent teachers out there. My favorite is Teepa Snow.
I recommend her video:
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