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DEMENTIA, BATHING & SHOWERING: CHALLENGES & TIPS

For people diagnosed with dementia, the everyday tasks that we take for granted can become a real challenge. Take showering for example: dementia can cause a person to experience a range of sensory conditions, such as hypersensitivity to sound or touch. This can make the experience of showering incredibly unpleasant, with the sound and feel of water causing significant distress.

elderly couple sitting the sofa together

Here are just a few of the challenges that people with dementia may face when it comes to taking a shower:

Discomfort with the sound of running water: For some people with dementia, the sound of running water can be incredibly disorienting and distressing. This can make it difficult for them to feel comfortable taking a shower, and can lead to resistance or refusal.

Sensitivity to temperature: As we age, our skin becomes thinner and more sensitive to temperature. This can make the sensation of warm water on the skin uncomfortable or even painful for some people with dementia. This can lead to resistance to showering, or to a preference for showers that are cooler than what they need for hygiene purposes.

Fear of falling: Dementia can cause a range of physical challenges, including a greater risk of falls. For people who are afraid of falling in the shower, the experience of getting clean can be incredibly stressful. This can lead to avoidance of showering altogether, or to a preference for bathing or sponge baths.

Confusion or forgetfulness: Dementia can cause confusion and forgetfulness, which can make it difficult for a person to know how to take a shower, or to remember the steps involved in getting clean. This can make the experience of showering frustrating or frightening, and can cause a person to avoid it altogether.

If you are caring for someone with dementia, it’s important to be patient and be mindful of how they might be feeling when it comes to showering.

Here are a few tips that we’ve found can help:

1. Try to create a calming environment: For some people with dementia, a calming environment can help them feel more comfortable with the idea of taking a shower. This could involve playing soothing music, lighting candles, or using aromatherapy to create a relaxing atmosphere.

2. Use a shower chair or stool: If a person with dementia is afraid of falling, a shower chair or stool can help them feel more secure and alleviate their fear. These types tools can also make it easier for a carer or loved one to help with bathing activity.

3. Be aware of water temperature: Make sure the water is not too hot and be mindful of how the individual feels both before, during and after the shower. If they complain of feeling cold, make sure the room is warm enough for them too.

4. Consider alternatives: If a person with dementia is resistant to showering, consider alternatives like sponge baths, bath wipes, dry shampoos, waterless shampoos and body wash. These may not be as effective as a full shower, but they can help maintain hygiene and avoid stress in a worse case scenario.

In the end, the challenges of showering for people with dementia can be overcome with patience, understanding, and a bit of creativity. It’s important to focus on the person’s comfort and well-being, rather than trying to enforce a specific hygiene routine. By being patient and flexible, care professionals can help make showering a more tolerable experience for everyone involved.

If your loved one is suffering from dementia and your like to speak to an experience care professional about the support available, please feel free to give us a call on 020 8610 9778 or email at info@comfortcareathome.co.uk.

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