Capable caregivers of seniors are well aware of the importance of patience. They know that the older adults they care for move a bit slower and think a bit differently. Naturally, with age, we endure mobility issues involving diminished strength and balance. As well, cognitive issues can develop, making memory loss more commonplace. Both physical limitations and emotional stress can cause seniors to despise bath time.
Of course, in such cases, a caregiver requires a lot of patience. What are some friendly ways to help an elderly loved one to bathe comfortably? Here are four:
1. Create a comfortable bathing environment.
Sometimes, it’s not the bath itself that seniors detest. It’s the bathroom. Is your cluttered? Be sure to put away every toiletry and cosmetic so that both the countertops and floors are clear. Clear floors are especially important as they eliminate tripping hazards. Are all showering necessities within reach? Install a shelf where soaps, body washes, shampoos, conditioners and wash rags can be stored. Avoiding any bending and stretching in the shower is an ideal way to prevent slips and falls.
“Shower stalls obviously become wet and slippery while in use,” Nebraska’s Home Instead reminds us, “Care professionals suggest improving the safety of these environments by installing equipment like grab bars and a large shower mat. In tiled bathrooms, you can consider adding safety treads or a rubber transfer mat to the floor to reduce slipperiness.”
2. Share in the bathing responsibilities.
Remember that your elderly loved one likely wants to bathe him/herself. A loss of independence usually tops the list of reasons seniors are emotionally stressed. If the senior in your life is capable of handling some of the bathing responsibilities, be sure to allow him/her to do so. He/she will feel a great sense of pride in knowing he/she isn’t completely dependent on your help to bathe.
“You may have to shampoo and condition the senior’s hair yourself, as they could have a hard time lifting their arms up to their head and lathering their hair,” notes Robin Schiltz for Senior Safety Advice.
3. Adjust your bath time technique.
Does your elderly loved one often have to wait long times before getting in the tub? Perhaps, this is because you get him/her to undress while you are checking the water’s temperature. Consider adjusting your bath time technique to make the process as quick and easy as possible for your elderly loved one. Filling the tub with warm water before getting him/her to undress will both shorten the process and make it more comfortable.
“Focus on reducing the number of times (if any) the person must stand or turn while in the wet environment,” adds Home Instead, “This means you should think carefully about all the steps involved in the current bathing routine and consider adjusting them as necessary. For instance, you may consider drying your loved one while they remain seated on a stool before exiting the shower.”
4. Increase safety in your bathroom.
At LifeCare Mobility Solutions, we provide a variety of home bathroom modifications. They are available to increase the safety of completing basic daily living activities in your home. Modifications can be as simple as changing water faucet handles from knobs to levers or as comprehensive as replacing the shower or bathtub with something more accessible.