When it comes to elderly personal care, the most challenging tasks for caregivers are often bathing and personal hygiene. Not only are these tasks physically demanding for everyone involved, but they also tend to be embarrassing for the elderly person being cared for. This is often the case whether the caregiver is a family member or a professional caregiver.
Thankfully, there are many ways you can make personal hygiene and bathing easier for everyone involved, including following these tips:
Tip: Promote a Maximum Amount of Independence for as Long as Possible
While it may be hard for the patient to bathe themselves and it may take a lot longer than you might like, preserving as much independence as possible is always desirable. Anything the patient can safely do for themselves, they should be encouraged to do for as long as possible.
Sometimes, this is as simple as gathering up all of the necessary bathing supplies, towels, and clothing and then giving the patient plenty of time to care for themselves.
Other times, you can utilize some assistive tools to help with independence, including:
- electric razors
- shower chairs
- walk-in bathtubs
- grab bars
In addition, if burns are a concern, then you should also lower the hot water heater's temperature.
Tip: Find a Balance Between Desired Bathing and Necessary Bathing
Although your life is very busy and you need to bathe every day or every other day, this typically isn't necessary for someone who is homebound or has limited mobility. Since they aren't moving around too much, they just don't need to bathe as often and might need some encouragement in this area.
Sit down with the person in your care and ask them how often they would like to bathe and what form they want that to take. For example, do they want to bathe a couple of days each week in a walk-in tub or shower, or are they fine with a sponge bath between more comprehensive showers or baths?
By setting a flexible schedule, you can make everyone's life a bit easier.
Tip: Distract the Patient by Encouraging Them to Talk About Something That Has Nothing to Do with Caregiving, Disability, or Illness
When an elderly person becomes homebound and requires bathing assistance, their life is typically very small. This means they often don't have a lot to talk about or think about other than their medical condition and all of the things they can no longer do. And, this leads to depression.
To lift the mood and avoid focusing on all of the things the patient can no longer do, encourage them to talk about something that interests them such as politics, current events, or their grandkids.
If you can't care for your loved one yourself, find elderly home care services that will do these things for your loved one.