It is best if you start an Alzheimers bath routine as early as possible in the disease process.
The routine should consist of the same days every week, the same time, and you should gather supplies the same way each time.
The closer you stick to a routine the easier it is for them. Most people bath daily, they either bath every morning or every evening most of their life.
Now is not the time to switch things around. If they were a night bather continue with that routine.
The minimum bathing for someone with Alzheimer’s should consist of daily washing of the face and their privates.
At least twice a week they should have a complete bath/shower.
Get the FREE Alzheimers Communication Guide
FREE Tips & techniques nurses use to communicate with Alzheimers patients
Send it my way
We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.
Keep the room nice and warm for the Alzheimers bath.
They may be more compliant if they are not undressing in a cold room.
Your goal is to make the experience as comfortable as possible.
Allow extra time for the task. Guide them through the undressing with short simple cues. It’s easier for them to follow 2-3 word cues than to try and follow a whole sentence.
“It’s time to get cleaned up”
I have found over the years it works best if I say this or it’s time to freshen up now when it’s time for the Alzheimers bath.. It also helps if you have a reason such as, we have to get cleaned up before we go to bed or before someone comes over.
If you offer them choices it can confuse them and most of the time they will say no.
It’s also in the approach. Remember to talk to them calmly, use a soft voice, and smile. Try to make bath time a pleasant experience. Don’t rush it. I have seen people when it is time for the Alzheimers bath to become very angry and aggressive simply because of the way they were approached.
Gather all of the necessary supplies for the Alzheimers bath
Before you take them into the bathroom, get everything you will need set up in the bathroom. This includes towels, washcloths, soap, shampoo, clean clothes, and underwear/briefs/pullup.This will help the process go smoother.
If you have to leave the room to get supplies, they may become distracted and try to leave the room. Once you take them into the bathroom to get cleaned up, you should stay in there for the duration.
Prevent embarrassment and maintain dignity!
Most people like their privacy and independence. Regardless of which stage of the disease your family member is in, you should respect their dignity at all times.
They may be embarrassed being undressed in front of you. Especially if this is your parent. If this is the case then only uncover the body area you are washing at that time especially if you are giving a bed bath. A large towel or bath blanket will help to keep the other areas covered.
Use a shower chair
Overhead showers and deep bathtubs can be overwhelming and frightening.
Using a shower chair if giving a shower instead of a bath, will make them feel more secure and can help prevent falls in the shower.
Sitting on a chair in the shower is not as scary as standing in one for someone with Alzheimer’s. It also makes the bathing process easier for the caregiver providing the bath.
It is easier to get to all of the body parts and much less awkward for them.
Showers are the preferred method for an Alzheimers bath for almost all caregivers. Baths can be more difficult getting them in and out. Especially if they are weak or unable to follow commands very well.
There are several different types of shower chairs on the market. I have found the tub transfer bench to work the best for homes that have a tub/shower combination. It allows them to sit on the bench before getting into the tub and just slide over. It is not as awkward getting in and out over the tub for someone whose balance may be a little off.
Tub Transfer Bench
Invest in a handheld shower sprayer!
I have seen many patients with Alzheimers patients physically fight bathing.
A hand-held shower sprayer is not as threatening to them as an overhead shower. They are usually quieter and It is much easier to control the water.
Keeping the water out of their face as much as possible will help keep them calm and cooperative, especially with hair washing.
This is the type of shower head I recommend. It works well for the household. The rest of the family has a regular shower to use and the handheld sprayer is easy to lift off for the Alzheimers bath.
Hand Held Shower Sprayer
Keep soap, shampoo, washcloths, and towels in easy reach.
You don’t want to step away from them while they are in the shower.
The shower is considered a very high-risk area for falls. If you step away even for a moment they may try to get up and fall.
Give them a washcloth to hold on to.
I have found that when I keep their hands occupied they are less fidgety and it can help keep them distracted. This works in many different situations also.
You want them to be involved as much as possible in their care. Have them wash as many of their body parts as possible.
This will also help them keep their range of motion. They should be lifting their arms up and down as much as possible because it keeps those muscles limber.
Tell them what you are doing as you go through the process.
For example, as you are washing their arm say “I am going to wash your arm now” . This will help lessen their fears if you keep talking and explaining what you are doing.
During the late stage of the disease, the Alzheimers bath will mainly be sponge baths in bed. These may be awkward in the beginning but after a couple of times, you will become an expert at it.
Maintain a calm atmosphere. Soft music will help keep them calm during the bathing process.